November 24, 2010 by Stacy McDonald

A Future and a Hope

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“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Every time I’ve shared portions of my life story with others, I’ve been told, “You should really write a book.” I guess in some ways it’s true. My life has seen a bit of drama. I was born to a 16-year-old unwed mother and, because of birth complications, spent months in the hospital before being placed in foster care. I wasn’t adopted until I was two years old because my birthmother refused to sign away her parental rights, hoping to find a way to keep me.

I was born with spina bifida, and because of complications from this, I spent my first 3 months alone in a hospital before being placed in foster care.

In God’s providence, my birthfather’s mother, who was a Christian and worked as a volunteer at the hospital where I was born, checked on me regularly and made sure I had good care. This was the same hospital where my late grandfather, Dr. Michael DeBakey, worked as a cardiovascular surgeon.

Finally, at 18 years old, after 2 years of refusing to sign over parental rights, she and her boyfriend (not my birth father) approached her parents with the hope of marrying and getting me back from foster care. But my grandparents convinced her that it would be better to give me up for adoption and pursue nursing school.  She signed the papers and I was adopted a few months later. Three years after that, my birth mother died in a tragic accident.

Nineteen years later, I had the privilege of meeting my birth family…both sides: grandparents, great grandmother, aunts, uncles (my birth mother had six younger siblings), cousins, birth father, and half sister.

My adoptive parents saw my picture posted on their church bulletin board. Catholic Charities was letting people know about children who needed a home. I was a “special needs” child…a toddler who had been born with a severe spinal deformity which would require years of surgeries and medical treatments. God laid it on the hearts of my adoptive parents, a couple who had recently experienced the tragic still birth of their first daughter, to adopt me. In their minds they weren’t sure if they’d ever have anymore children. Despite my looming medical bills, they chose to take me in and call me their own.

My mother described months of wondering if I loved her. I was emotionally unresponsive and quiet. My father, having been raised by a strict military man, sought to instill discipline in my life early on. One of the rules he gave me was that after dinner, I was to put my booster chair in the corner—my very first “chore.” Once, however, unknown to my father, my mother had told me she had made dessert, so I should leave the booster in my chair until it was ready.

When my father walked into the room and discovered that I had not put away my booster, he told me I had disobeyed and needed a spanking. For whatever reason, I said nothing and took the spanking. My mother later shared how baffled she was that I hadn’t explained to him what she had instructed me to do. I’m sure he felt horrible when he discovered the whole story. I could detail many similar instances throughout my childhood–times when I sat in silence instead of speaking up (of course, I made up for it when I got older!).

There was the time when I was five, at home, recovering from back surgery—a surgery that had been required due to some sort of bone cutting through my spinal cord. Without the surgery, I would have been paralyzed. This particular morning, I woke up to find my bed, as well as my surgery dressing, drenched. My mother found me and thought I had wet my bed (I was five). Shortly after correcting me, she realized the liquid had come from another source—I was leaking spinal fluid from my incision. My mother felt horrible. Again, I had said nothing. Back to the hospital for another surgery.

Note: I have since been informed by various adoptive parents that, for some reason, this silence is common in young, adoptive children. So if you are an adoptive parent, please keep this in mind as you minister to your children.

My birthmother and I (age 3).

There is no doubt that my early years were characterized by occasional harsh words and strict discipline. My parents tried very hard to raise me the way they thought best. In an effort to teach me gratefulness to God, I was often told how fortunate I was to be adopted, since older children with handicaps were sometimes forgotten. They were right, and I was thankful; yet, somehow, in my mind, it made me feel like I was nothing more than a “good deed.”

When I was about four years old, my mother gave birth to my little sister (my youngest sister was born when I was in my teens). I imagined that since they had their “own baby” now, they were simply “stuck” with me. I always viewed my sister as the beautiful and “perfect” one. I was the awkward, ugly, burdensome child. I owned that identity; and, for years, I allowed it to define me. I’m sure I was a hard child to figure out and I am grateful for my parents’ consistent selfless efforts to love, protect, and care for me.

In first grade, I began wearing a metal back brace. It was an awful device that fitted around my neck and went all the way down to the bottom of my hips. It had a plastic chin rest on which, for some reason, I was told to never rest my chin. I would wear this brace 24 hours a day for seven long years. I was allowed to take it off to bathe, to swim, and to go roller skating. I loved roller skating.

Stock photo from www.onmilwaukee.com

I recall the day I was first fitted for this horrible contraption. I was six years old. The doctor put my head in a harness that was attached to a strap hanging from a metal frame several feet above my head. I was allowed to hold on to the side bars, while he raised the strap so that I was forced to stand on my tip toes. Then, as I stood in my underwear, covered only by a long piece of cloth tubing, he wrapped hot plaster around my torso. I cried. My mother cried too, as she watched.

Of all the physical and emotional pain I endured: surgeries; humiliating medical procedures; embarrassing medical “photo shoots”; sleepless nights with a brace that left bloody sores on my hips and back; back pain; suffering from the heat of the Texas sun under all that metal and plastic …none of it compared to the pain of being an outcast. I recall crying myself to sleep at night, asking God to just make me “normal.” I didn’t need to be smart or beautiful or popular; I just wanted to be normal.

I remember asking my mother why my brace made people so angry. I don’t recall her answer, but I remember from that point forward trying to avoid notice. I always tried to leave for the bus stop in just enough time for the bus to arrive. Otherwise, as soon as I got close enough to see my classmates waiting at the bus stop, the jeering would begin…so I would walk slower. “Here comes brace butt!” “Look, it’s an Erector Set!” “Do you have a metal bra to go with your metal body?”

This is an image from uihealthcare.com of the Milwaukee Back Brace

I remember wondering why people were so mean. Looking in the mirror, I decided it was because I was so ugly and worthless. Twisted and deformed. Pitiful. Everyone seemed to agree. I recall lying in bed at night naming off all the things that were “wrong” with me. I mentally listed all the reasons I thought my parents had for hating me (for years, I truly believed they hated me); then I would add to that list all the reasons I hated myself. And it was confirmed each day by children at school.

As I got older, the cruelty at school became more painful…and personal. Puberty and public school can be a horrific combination—especially when you’re ugly and worthless. I was followed home from the bus stop, cornered in school hallways, and harassed at play grounds. Once, my dad found me lying on the ground at a park where two boys were getting ready to run me over with their bikes.

I recall once, how a kindly old bus driver, after overhearing the plans several kids had for me when I got off the bus, drove me all the way to my doorstep. Sobbing hysterically, I ran to my back yard.

When I think back, my parents must have felt so ill-equipped to handle all my problems. My father had no patience for tears, so I desperately tried to hide them. One day, after having been followed home from school by some older children who had walked behind me poking me with their umbrellas, threatening me, and calling me all sorts of horrible names, my father found me in the back yard crying. I had stayed there trying to control myself before going inside the house, fearing that my tears would make my father angry.

However, he wasn’t angry with me. He was angry with the kids who had harassed me. Still, despite my pleas, he (rightly) called their parents. Of course, this made things worse for me the next day at school when no parents were around.

Two month prior to my thirteenth birthday, I had my final major surgery, which would mean a two-week-stay in the hospital and a 3 month recovery. My spine would be fused and my brace would finally come off for good! I began to think that perhaps all my problems would be over once the “brace that made everyone angry” was gone. After the surgery, I would need to wear a body cast for nine long months, but then I would be free!

Yet, just before “freedom” came, I experienced another emotional trauma. Though I had many negative hospital experiences, some of the worst for me were the “photo sessions.” When I was younger, it wasn’t so bad (at least not that I remember).

Sometime before the surgery, I was taken into a section of the hospital where some sort of teaching was going on. At the peak of puberty, I was led to the middle of the room in my underwear and a hospital gown before a group of doctors or medical students (I’m not sure which), while they discussed my medical condition. I felt like a specimen. I suppose, in a way, I was.

At some point, I was told to untie my hospital gown and hold it in front of me because they needed to take pictures of the (82 degree “S”) curve in my spine. While a panel of men watched, I was asked to bend over in various positions for each photo. Especially in light of my insecurities, it was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life.

X-rays, photo shoots, surgeries, braces…all this would finally be behind me! However, I needed to get through the next nine months. My body cast was heavy and thick. In some ways, it was much worse than my brace. Picture a really, really long tube top made of thick plaster. It was awfully hot—and it didn’t come off for roller skating or other special events the way the brace did. And, of course, it still drew attention—attention I hated. Couldn’t I just hide under a rock for nine months?

Eventually, the cast came off, but to my disappointment, many of my same problems remained. I had grown up as the “Erector Set,” so the fact that my brace and cast were gone physically didn’t change much of anything. I decided that perhaps it wasn’t the brace that made people angry; it was something that was inherently wrong with me—it really was my own worthlessness that made people hate me. So, I spent my time trying to desperately hide my worthlessness.

I entered high school insecure and anxious. Desperate for acceptance, terrified of rejection, and loathing my twisted self image, I got caught up with the misfits—the drug crowd. I learned their language, adopted their “look,” and joined them in the smoking area at school. I learned to curse; I learned to flirt; I learned what it took to attract boys; and I learned how to be “cool.” However, my parents were too strict for me to actually get too involved in their lifestyle. Most of these kids had (cool) parents who smoked pot with them, who allowed them complete freedom to roam, and who lived a life absolutely foreign to what I knew. I still had a 9:30 p.m. bedtime.

In their own desolation and despondency, my new friends seemed to accept me. Misery really does love company. However, I didn’t care why they accepted me; I finally fit in somewhere. For a short while I enjoyed the illusion that I was loved.

One day, it all came to a screeching halt. My parents found a stash of letters to and from my new friends. I had pretended to be “one of them,” so the written evidence against me was pretty incriminating. “Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll,” after all. Conscientious parents that they were, they delved deeper and discovered the new beginnings of my secret life of rebellion. The most painful part was the fact that I had lost my parents’ trust. However, to me, even this was “their fault.” In my mind, they didn’t love me, and now they didn’t want anyone else to love me either.

At this point, a strange and deep rebellion began to take root in my heart. My parents were keeping me from the only people who in my mind had ever truly accepted me. The unhealthy comradery I shared with those whose names I now can’t even recall seemed to me a healing balm; though, in reality, their friendship only deadened the sense of emptiness I felt. It was a false “fill” to a real void.

Ironically, as my parents kept me from my friends (I was “grounded” for a year), these same friends who had so readily accepted me, and seemed so loyal, quickly turned on me. A false rumor was spread about me and believed; so, almost immediately, I was once again an outcast.

Looking back, this was actually a mercy. I can see, even then, God’s hand was on my life. He was restraining my sin and protecting me…from myself. I was on autopilot for total destruction. In fact, many nights I cried out for God to please just kill me. I learned to cry silently in case anyone might hear me. I recall, on more than one occasion, being grilled on why I was crying. I always refused to admit anything was wrong. Pride, fear, hopelessness, and anger ruled my soul.

Many nights I contemplated different ways of suicide, but I was convinced by my Roman Catholic upbringing that suicide would send me straight to Hell. While to me, life was a close second, I was still terrified that Hell would be worse. So, I was afraid to live and afraid to die. I was in total despair.

In the years that followed, I seemed to temporarily come out of my despair. Graduation was coming and a new life would begin. If only I could get out on my own, away from the restraints of my parents, and the stigmas of my past, maybe then I would finally be “normal.”

Though my parents had expected me to go to college, I couldn’t wait to be on my own – free from their rules and their criticism. In rapid succession, I graduated from high school, moved out of my parents’ house, got a job as a hair dresser, and went crazy. With no one to restrain my sin, I sunk deep into a destructive life style that on more than one occasion nearly cost me my life. I became entangled in abusive relationships, harmed my own body, rejected my upbringing, and pursued sin full force. Within months I was nearly unrecognizable.

But God. In 1988, my precious Savior called me into His Kingdom. I was a bloodied, bruised, and broken soul. God’s Hand had been on my life all along, but as I shared in the book I co-authored with Jennie Chancey, he used one faithful family to reveal to me His love:

A simple family living a quiet life in the heart of Virginia noticed me in the midst of their everyday living. No fanfare, no sales pitch—just real-life Gospel-living. God providentially placed me in the path of Jack and Brenda at just the right moment—and I discovered the hands and feet of Christ living out the day to day.

This faithful wife revealed to me her true King, Jesus, by esteeming her earthly husband as “lord,” in the way she lived out her days (1 Peter 3:6). She did not live her life as if it was her own, and as I watched her, I was utterly amazed. The joy that permeated her every nurturing act of service to her family confounded my selfish heart—and melted it. Not only was I ready to listen, but I begged for answers!

Her faithful husband, by mirroring the sacrificial love of a King for His Bride, revealed to me in living color Christ’s sacrifice for the church. I was able to understand, at least in part, the mysterious love of the Gospel from this man living it out in his home with his wife and children. Love never fails! (1 Corinthians 13:8)!

No one handed me a tract or told me I was going to hell if I didn’t repent. No one stopped me in the street to point to the burden of sin I carried and of which I was already painfully aware. All those things could have been said; they were certainly true enough. Yet, I was shown the gospel by the winsome scent of hearth and home—and one true-to-life family living it out in all of its “everydayness.”

I was finally free from the powerful chains of sin and death that had defined my life up to this point (Romans 6:18). He who had known no sin had become sin on my behalf; He died the death I deserved (2 Corinthians 5:21). He took my punishment and ransomed my soul (1 Timothy 2:5-6). It took me a few more years, and finding a solid church, before my life truly began to heal and move forward; but He who had began a good work in me, proved Himself faithful (Philippians 1:6).

I have given you only a very tiny glimpse into some of the painful parts of my past. And, my struggles certainly didn’t abruptly end when I became a Christian! There is much more I could share that would show that, perhaps like you, I have known deep hurt, rejection, and even abuse. But my goal is not to dwell on the past; it is to give you hope…to testify to you that you don’t have to allow past hurts to identify you – to own you. There is freedom in Christ, and part of that freedom comes from acknowledging that God is in control.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

As difficult as it is to understand, those painful parts are all part of His orchestrated plan. While God is not the author of sin, He uses even sinful situations for our ultimate good and for His glory because we’re told in His word that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

This excerpt from my personal journey, part 2 of His Bottle of Tears, demonstrates our need to walk in the only Truth that sets us free:

Fear torments—fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of being hated, fear of being unwanted, unloved…even just being tolerated. Those who have known deep rejection know how difficult it is to articulate the irrational fears that plague you—that chase you down in the dead of night—and sometimes in the day. There is One who knows better than any other—He knows it all.

Rejection was my foe. He stood over me with a gleaming dagger, mocking me—imminent victory gleaming in his eyes. My heart pounded. I closed my eyes and turned my head to the fate I knew I deserved. “I wouldn’t want me either,” I thought.

Yet, suddenly, with each beat of my heart, the footsteps of my Beloved pounded in my head. Could it be?

A voice charged with passion and authority thundered through the air, “She is Mine.” It is all He said.

From where I lay, I could see the nail marks in His feet.

I looked up and realized my foe was gone. All that remained of him was the dagger in my own hand.

Lord, save me from myself. You rescued me from Your own wrath and from the tormentors who had laid claim to my soul. Why then do I secretly struggle to live in victory over the very bondage I loathed—even when I see and know the truth? Why do I so often see myself with worldly eyes? “Oh God, I believe; help my unbelief!”

“But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?” (Galatians 4:9)

Lord, help us all to see ourselves the way You see us—to know and remember that You have orchestrated our steps. You have walked in and experienced our pain. You have loved us in our ugliness, and washed us clean. Remind us that regardless of who lets us down, You never will. Regardless of who may forget us, you will never forget.

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” (Isaiah 49:15-16)

We may not be able to understand all the reasons for the trials and tragedies in our lives, but we can be assured that none of it is “wasted.” If you feel you “just can’t get past” your trials; if you struggle to forgive; and if your past seems to haunt you even during the day, throw yourself at the mercy of the Savior. Confess that you can’t do it alone. Lay it all down at the foot of the cross—the offenses, the verbal tirades, the physical attacks, the sexual assaults, the humiliation—all of it. Let it all go. Don’t hold anything back. If you are a Christian, remember to Whom you belong and look in hope to the lover of your soul.

If you are not a Christian – if you know who Jesus is, but, you do not “know” Jesus, cry out to God now (Romans 10:9–13; 1 Tim. 2:5; John 3:16-18). Jesus is your only hope. Without Him, your eternal future will be filled with misery, death, emptiness, and despair.

He gathers together the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:2–3

To read more of my spiritual journey and the hope God gave me visit the following links:

His Bottle of Tears Part 1

Beauty for Ashes: A Testimony

I shared my heart here in the hopes that it will help someone who is hurting to move forward and not to allow their past hurts, abuse, or trauma to define them. I pray that if you have been hurt by others, that you will learn as I am still learning to view those times as part of the intricate design of an amazing God – a God who loves you and has for you a future and a hope!



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61 Responses to “A Future and a Hope”

  1. I love you, Stacy McDonald. My prayer is that God will use the challenges of your past to help many others in the future. You are a great blessing to me.

  2. Jamie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your testimony. Your testimony blessed me tonight. God is using you in a mighty way.

    Blessings,
    Jamie

  3. Christine says:

    Stacy,

    Thank you so much for sharing part of your story. God has been glorified!

    My heart aches for my own sweet autistic son. But I rejoice to know that he has been loved well over the years, and that he is secure in God’s love.

    Blessings to you (and happy Thanksgiving!!),
    Christine

  4. Nicole says:

    Thank you for sharing. I am sorry that you had to endure so much as a young child. It must have been difficult. I can recall some simular problems in my high school years and going the wrong way. I would love to read more about your life. You are a great writer.

  5. Anne says:

    Thank you for sharing this testimony. I am one of those who has a past filled with rejection, abuse and wrong choices. But, the Lord captured my heart 4.5 years ago, and He is intent on healing me. What an awesome God we have! :-)

  6. Jennifer says:

    I can’t believe those doctors treated you that way. They had no right, and I’m glad patient rights are taken more seriously now. Thank you for your beautiful testimony, Stacy. Had I known you as a child, I would have wanted to pick you up and tell you that you were beautiful and very loved. What a balm it must have been to know your birth mother fought for you even knowing the medical complications.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Your story would be a great book, Stacy, but no pressure; your testimonies here could be more than enough and painting the past can be hurtful. On this topic, there are so many books, some fiction and some not, that deal with myriad kinds of abuse; my friend Hillary received many mixed messages as a child as to how her parents saw her. There are also numerous young adult books that deal with teen heart issues: bullying in school, young girls dealing with pregnancy, love at a young and tender age (and which feelings are the real and lasting kind of love), divorce in the family, spiritual abuse, eating disorders, drug/alcohol abuse, and different kinds of depression. I highly recommend Melody Carlson as an amazing author of Christian YA fiction. Her True Colors series especially is a collection of teen girl issues, told with brutal honesty and hope. The subjects include friend desertion, jealousy, sex out of marriage, homosexuality, divorce, greed, popularity, drinking, teen suicide, the harmful lure of Wicca, the practice of self-cutting, and parental abuse. I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m using this as an advterising board, your story just reminded me of the vital need for such guidance for young people! :)

  8. Diane says:

    ;_; tears….

    and then my favorite part… “But God.”
    Bless you, bless you for having the courage and selflessness to share this Stacey~?~

  9. Janet says:

    Dear, sweet Stacy,

    What a glorious testimony of the grace of God. He chose YOU – a wicked, rebellious, ungrateful sinner – and brought you out of darkness into His marvellous light! He did the same for all of His children, including me.

    The pain you suffered as a child was part of His plan, and He is good.

    I’m so glad you shared. I believe that your testimony will be used as an instrument of grace in the lives of many.

  10. What a powerful testimony, Mrs. McDonald! And you are so very right; there is such freedom in Christ!

    My husband has quite a life story as well, and in some ways it reminds me of yours, but without the health difficulties. He was passed from home to home, had an abusive mother, ran away from his foster home at the age of 15, and was never permitted to even meet his father, despite his father’s many attempts. His father ended up committing suicide when my husband was a teenager, and that was the first time my husband was ever allowed to see his face – at the funeral, where he was pallbearer, strangely.

    Recently, I shared a bit of his story here: http://likeabubblingbrook.blogspot.com/2010/11/when-life-is-full-of-obstacles-god.html

    It’s such a blessing to know that God really can – and does – give us a new life and a future, when we offer it to Him!

    Warmest Thoughts,

    Jaime @ Like a Bubbling Brook

  11. Jane says:

    Thank you, Stacy. I am weeping. I had a similar growing up experience, though not to the extent you had. An emotionally distant set of parents, never feeling I was good enough for them, my rebellion and subsequently falling in with the wrong crowd. I am 51 years old and still have issues.

    But the Lord in His great mercy, used the death of one of my children (about 16 years ago) as a starting point to draw me to Him and I can look back and see His hand in it now. He saved me. I still have a long way to go, but I feel He is still drawing me up out of my pit. Could you pray for me?

    Love,
    Jane

  12. dawn says:

    Your stories of your life move me like no one else. There are so many similarities to my life (with out the special needs), you describe my feelings of rejection so well.
    I am so sorry you felt these things, but so very glad the the Lord used you to help others know they are not alone.

  13. Theresa says:

    Thank you for sharing this Stacey. I can relate to a lot of what you wrote, unfortunately I was one of the mean kids picking on you. Well of course it wasn’t you, but in an effort to defend myself and not get picked on, I tried to be tough. I went to school with a bunch of rich kids. They had a way of making you feel like you were never enough. Your house wasn’t big enough, your clothes weren’t nice enough, you didn’t have a maid or a jacuzzi or a BMW, and we were what is considered upper middle class. I deceided I was going to hurt them before they hurt me. I was mean to other kids in the same way. Since becoming a Christian I have often wished I could apologize to them and ask them for forgiveness. So, Stacey in God’s goodness he led me to you and this post. Please forgive me for being mean and heartless to those kids the same way those kids were mean to you.

  14. Florence says:

    Stacy I so appreciate your sharing and your heart for those who are hurting. One very difficult thing about abuse is the terrible feeling of alienation when one has to keep a shameful secret. I am praying that God would use your post to cause hurting people to open up and get needed help.

    Jesus was sent to “heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”

    If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed! I am so very grateful for our God who loves us and sets us free.

    Florence

  15. Stacy McDonald says:

    Thank you, Janet. That is my prayer. God takes our tears and doesn’t waste a drop!

  16. Stacy McDonald says:

    Thank you, Jaime, I’ll look forward to reading your husband’s testimony!

    Jane – I have prayed for you. May the Lord continue to bless you as you glorify Him!

    Theresa – thank you so much – your apology was very touching, even though it was not me you hurt. And, on behalf of those you did hurt, I am honored to forgive you, as our Father forgives (though I hope you have the opportunity to meet those people in person one day). I have forgiven those from my past as well; I am thankful to have laid these things at the foot of the cross. May God richly bless you!

  17. Dana Renda says:

    Stacy, you are an inspiration to all of us! My heart aches thinking of your childhood. Children can be so cruel. I felt tears of sadness, then tears of joy for all you have overcome. I’m so glad that God intervened in your life. I don’t know you, but I wish I did. I wish I had someone like you living near. I believe you were put here to counsel us. I believe God is using you to lead us to Him. You are beautiful.

    Blessings
    Dana

  18. h. rae says:

    I am sitting here with tears streaming. As I read your whole testimony I felt intense anger at the way you, as a child, were treated, and deep thankfulness to God for drawing you close to Him after all that you had been through. What a testimony! God is so good. I understand how this would have been difficult to write. Memories can be the most painful things. But praise God for deliverance. Thank you for posting your story. It has brought a new strength to me in the midst of my own trials. All we really ever need is Jesus; only Jesus.

  19. CourtneyK says:

    How bold and brave of you to share this part of your walk with the rest of us. Thank you. Your boldness and vulnerability will no doubt work alongside God’s Holy Spirit to draw others into his light and truth. Many blessings to you, Stacy!

    In Christ,
    Courtney

  20. Ana says:

    Thank you.

  21. Becky says:

    What a wonderful testimony. Thank you for sharing with us.

  22. Erica says:

    What an amazing testimony! Praise the Lord for His faithfulness. And thank you so much for being so open and vulnerable–for His glory.

    May God bless you and your ministry!

  23. Rachel says:

    Beautiful story. I relate somewhat. And, I love how you really came to know the love of Jesus through the “simple” act of a loving family… what an awesome testimony. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Stacey, You don’t know me, but I want to share how much you and your husband are impacting me. I still haven’t heard you speak in person, but have read many of your thoughts and views. I am inspired by what your family represents. It gives me a clearer picture of what I long to have. When God lifts you up out of Satan’s darkness I feel it is a sin not to share it. I actually used to believe that I was the only messed up, hurting one. That everybody else had it together and God has opened my eyes to see there are soooo many hurting souls out their and they all can use His love. You can serve as one person who is able to share a piece a God with those who desperately need Him. Amen to what you are doing! Don’t ya feel that when you are speaking His truth for His purpose that the fear subsides?
    May God continue to bless your amazing works,
    Carolyne

  25. Just thank you.
    For boldly, bravely sharing the story, to give Him all the glory.
    I can only imagine but a pit of you pain… and only a bit of your oceanic love for Jesus, for she who hurts deep, loves deep.

    God used your story to minister to bruised places in me today…

    I am grateful for you…

    All’s grace,
    Ann

  26. Jen says:

    Stacy, thank you for sharing your testimony, and all that you had to endure. I was so sad reading all the hardships you had to go through as a child. It was especially sad to read how children can be so cruel to other kids who are considered “different”. You endured so much, and I am sure that you have really been able to minister to others who are hurting. I was thinking, as I read your post, that your children are very blessed in that they won’t have to go through the same things as you did when it comes to bully kids. Because you homeschool, your kids are sheltered (for the most part) from that kind of pain and humiliation. My dd would be considered “different” because she was diagnosed with sensory issues and adhd. I homeschool her partly for that reason, and I am so thankful that she doesn’t have to go through what many kids go through at school.

    Something else you wrote really got me wondering. You wrote about how you felt when your parents had biological children, and I got the feeling that you felt like you didn’t fit in after that into the family. Maybe I read into that wrong. As the mom of an adopted daughter, I have many questions. She is our only child (except for babies in heaven), and we have talked about trying again for a biological child. I will start to warm to the idea of trying again, then I will think about our dd. I don’t want her to ever feel like she is adopted. She knows she is, but I don’t want her to FEEL like she is. I don’t ever want her to feel like she is inferior compared to any biological child we could have. I have always heard stories of how adopted kids feel when biological kids come on the scene, and it always seems to be negative. It has made me want to adopt again instead of trying again, but the cost of adoption has gone up so dramatically since we last adopted almost 9 years ago. I would just like to know, from another adoptee, what your thoughts would be on this issue.

  27. Kat says:

    “The pain you suffered as a child was part of His plan, and He is goodYOU – a wicked, rebellious, ungrateful sinner – and brought you out of darkness into His marvellous light!

    The pain you suffered as a child was part of His plan, and He is good”

    If it were me, I must say I would not find these words comforting. We are all wicked of course, but people in such a pit of pain already feel alone and ugly, so my first step would hardly be to tell them that they were wicked, ungrateful and that God wanted their pain. My first actions would be to tell them they are loved.

  28. Mrs. Q says:

    Thank you so much for this, Stacy. You are a treasure.

    Blessings to you,
    Mrs. Q

  29. Kerimae says:

    Wow. I haven’t been around reading blogs for a while and I re-stumbled onto yours tonight. I just wanted to tell you that over the years I’ve read some of your blog, heard you speak in WA (and watched how you carried yourself), and read your Maidens and Housewives books. I’ve always thought you were one of the most beautiful women I *knew* and now I know it for a fact! I’m so thankful for your life and how Jesus used it all to draw you to Him, and still uses it all to glorify Him. You are a treasure. Thank you for sharing; I’m glad I read this tonight. Hugs to you, sweet sister.

    With love
    Keri Mae

  30. Jennifer says:

    Stacy, I’m sure that was hard to share with the world!! The Lord certainly DID have a plan for you! He has used you in so many ways for so many people.
    You have most assuredly been a blessing in my life (wish we lived a little closer to “y’all” ;)

    “Look to the Lord and His ways, seek His face always”

  31. Mary R. says:

    So sad, especially about your birth mother trying to keep you and then dying young. Very sad story all around, although I know your adoptive parents did the best they could and loved you. Oh, where would some of us be if not for the grace and mercy of God, and His hand upon us all of our lives!

  32. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Kat,

    I do find these words comforting. Janet’s words were not spoken to me in the midst of my pain – she was rejoicing with me that He brought me out of the pit of despair into His marvelous light.

  33. Donna says:

    Thank you for sharing and being so open.

    I tried the links at the end of the post to read the other parts of your story, but the links are not working.

  34. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Donna,

    Thanks for letting me know. The links should be fixed now.

  35. Stacy McDonald says:

    Keri Mae – thank you for the encouragement. :-)

  36. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Jen,

    My emotional problems were very unique. I’m sure your daughter would be thrilled to have younger siblings. If you’d like to contact me privately, please feel free.

  37. Stacy McDonald says:

    Thank you, Ann. It is an honor to know that God used my story to minister to your hurt! To God be the glory!

  38. Stacy McDonald says:

    Carolyne,

    Yes, it is true that something happens when we serve. When we take our eyes off ourselves and seek to minister to others, our own fear subsides. Praise the Lord! HE is amazing!!!!

  39. Stacy McDonald says:

    H. rae, Shelley Gehman, Dana, and others,

    Thank you!! Your words have been an encouragement to me. It is amazing to see how God can take the ugliness of the past and transform it into a beautiful tool of healing! Praise the Lord!

  40. Shannon says:

    Stacy, I am so very sorry for the abuse that you endured as a child. The times that you were punished for no reason, leaves scars. I drove by a church recently with a billboard that read, “Scars prove that there is healing.” I wish you healing and peace.

  41. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Shannon,

    Thank you for your kind words. I’ve been contemplating this subject a lot lately. My parents were not abusive; that was really my point. They never intended to “hurt” me. Yes, they made mistakes, and at times my father especially was overly harsh, but his heart was to do the “right thing.”

    Yes, there were times I was punished for things I had not done (hasn’t that happened to everybody?); but, there were plenty more times when my real sins went unpunished. And usually, for whatever reason, the times I was disciplined for things I didn’t do happened because I refused to speak up.

    My parents loved me, they sacrificed for me, and they did the best they could with a troubled child. And I am grateful to God for them and for their diligence.

    In my younger years, I viewed their parenting weaknesses and indiscretions with bitterness and judgment. But God has shown me that I was not extending to them the same grace I hoped to receive. God spared my life so many times – I deserved His wrath. But instead He gave His Son’s life…for me…in all my ugliness.

    There is no need for me to go into details, but my point is that the only perfect parent is our Heavenly Father. I don’t have to be critical and angry because Jesus has shown me what a wretched sinner I am – a sinner saved by Grace and forgiven much against a Holy and awesome God. How can I dare dwell on the sins of others when I’ve been forgiven so much?

  42. Jennifer says:

    But Stacy, wrong actions are wrong regardless of what the heart means. Your parents were good and no one needs to dwell on sin, but we also need to call it what it is. Your parents ought not to have let you be treated the way you were by those doctors.

  43. Stacy McDonald says:

    Jennifer, I don’t recall my parents being present during those incidents.

  44. Martha Artyomenko says:

    It is amazing how even when things can be so wrong in your life, and you can let it make you better. Experiencing that can really help you in understanding other people who go through hard things and make lots of mistakes too.

  45. Jennifer says:

    I didn’t think they were, but I thought they would have known. If the doctors didn’t even consult them either..well, that says even more about those practitioners, doesn’t it. Wow.

  46. darci says:

    oh stacy, thank you for sharing this. And oh….”But God.” Those two little words…But God. I was so blessed reading this. Thank you.

  47. Kim W says:

    God’s richest blessing to you for sharing so faithfully. And bless your sweet husband’s confirmation of his love & support towards you.

    Blessings from Ohio…Kim<

  48. Clara says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for sharing this! This has helped me so much! I too was a difficult (rebellious, headstrong, sinful) child dealing with scoliosis and a myriad of ugly emotions.
    God bless you for sharing this.

  49. Kristal says:

    Stacy,
    Thank you so much for your courage and vunerability. I’ve been blessed by your testimony. Thank you.

  50. Elizabeth Sue says:

    Oh Stacy, my sweet sister in Christ! Your words came at the right time for me to read this. I just had my fourth misscarriage and was feeling very low. Thank you for being so strong and glorifying God.

  51. Dana says:

    Thank You again and again,
    Your boldness in sharing your testimony
    of God’s love in your life has blessed me
    today.

  52. Dianne says:

    Amazing testimony. It affirms my thankfulness for homeschooling. I know a large homeschooling family with a young child with the same types of spinal problems/surgeries and although he has been tried physically to his limit, he has been enormously loved by his family and those around him. Thank you, Lord!

  53. Teresa says:

    Thank You Stacy,
    My husband and I have adopted a behaviorally special needs child who is now 10. He had a very difficult first 8 years of his life, in and out of foster care, and with birth parents who were drug addicts. He did accept Christ a few weeks back, and we have seen a huge change in his frequent defiance. However, he has been very defiant and pushing everyone away the last couple days, and it has been a hard day for me. The Lord led me to read your story, I wasn’t looking for it, but found your site from a link to another site. As I read through, the Holy Spirit used your words to inspire hope in me for our son. I do believe Christ can heal him, but so many of these kids end up in jail despite their being adopted and loved by a Christian family. He is a very angry child, and we have accomplished much with him in 2 years. Thanks for being transparent and real about your life, which show the redeeming power of Christ!
    Bless you,
    Teresa

  54. Teresa says:

    Thank you, Stacy, for sharing your heart in such a vulnerable way. Your testimony has helped me to have a greater understanding of my son and of others who have suffered deep rejection, abuse, and emotional trauma in their lives, especially in early childhood. May God bless you and use you to bring hope, healing, and freedom in Christ to those who so desperately need Him.

  55. Mrs. T says:

    Beautiful testimony, Stacy. God is so wonderful in His grace & mercy in each of our lives! I appreciate your transparency. May this testimony reach many souls who are suffering the despair of not knowing our Savior & be penetrated to the core by His Spirit to come to know Him personally so that they may in turn share their own story of victory over a life of sin! Bless you.

  56. Carysa Mendoza says:

    Thank you for sharing your testimony. I was also adopted and struggled with many things including being in group homes and doing drugs. God looked upon me with His love and grace and brought me out of that to a new and wonderful life. I am now a housewife and love being a mommy and wife! Just 7 years ago no one would have thought I would be living the life for Jesus that I am living today. Praise God!

  57. Dana Adams says:

    Stacy, Mercy! What a story of amazing grace! A friend told me to read your story, I thought it was one I had read years ago about your adulthood ( some common experiences you and I share). I was completely blown away! I so love our Redeeming Saviour! What a testimony of His grace in your life is! My favorite statement of all times has to be ….But God. With God all things are possible! There is such hope and joy and encouragement from our Loving Father! Thank you for sharing that.
    Blessings and peace to you sister!

  58. M. says:

    I was wondering how you believe in Christ. What does believe really mean?

  59. I’ve had scoliosis since I was 13 but it didn’t get worse after I found out. I’m 17 now and my curvature is still less than 20 degrees. I do yoga now and then but should I still be worried for my back? Could it get any worse?

  60. Katy Waldrop says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! Our God is so merciful and loving!! I had forgotten some “medical observations” I had to endure with chronic kidney infections when I was in puberty until I read this. Thanks for sharing your story so that I can pursue healing in this area of my life to. Blessings on you and your household!

  61. Megan says:

    Thank you for your powerful words. I have read so many essays on redemption, but yours left me crying out to our Savior in thanks for accepting us just as we are. The imagery you used to describe His coming for you was inspired. I have never heard it put like that. Praise be to God for rescuing us! May the Lord bless you and your family.

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