Climbing the driveway toward the exquisite, Italian-style home, I am drawn to the immaculate yard especially vibrant on this gorgeous fall day. An array of colorful pumpkins decorates the front steps, while a life-sized skeleton hangs prominently on the door. It is so old school and reminiscent of my childhood- I love it. No doubt all of this is to attract a neighborhood of thrilled trick or treaters to the home of a very special couple, Cinda and Mark Boomershine. The door opens and I am greeted by one-half of this dynamic duo. Mark, with his effortless style, dark beard (which totally works for him) and kind brown eyes welcomes me in. Although he is known by many titles- salesman, inventor, and entrepreneur- I am mostly struck by what must be his greatest designation, artist. Being a lover of all that is unique and colorful, I stand in awe of his work and wish that I could afford him. Mark’s Pop-inspired pieces, both arresting and brilliant, enhance any space with a remarkable presence, especially here in his home.
As we sit down in the den, the couple is all smiles as they climb onto the sofa and immediately cuddle together. After 17 years of marriage, I am quite impressed with this lasting devotion to one another. And although I witness joy today, there was a time when this couple experienced great difficulty and a long period of darkness. It’s hard to believe looking at them now, but the Boomershines haven’t had it easy. And this is why I am here.
Have you, dear reader, experienced a time in your life when you didn’t think you could go on? When the struggle was just too hard? Maybe right now you are dealing with one disappointment after another, and it is weighing on you. Your heart has been so bruised and battered from the letdowns you’ve endured that you doubt you can hold on one more day. Maybe you desperately want to meet the person of your dreams, but relationship after relationship just leads to another broken heart. Or the business you created and felt certain would take off instead has led to horrific stress and debt you never expected. Perhaps a sick family member is draining you of energy and independence. Or your marriage may be crumbling, and you worry there is no hope in saving it. You want to throw in the towel. You are tempted to say “I’m out” because the pain, the stress, the loneliness, the heartbreak is just too great. So what do we do in times like these? How do we keep from giving up?
Following 10 years of marriage, the Boomershines decided to start a family. Hearts soared when they got pregnant on their very first try. Future plans were being designed, and charming baby names considered as they dreamed of holding the tiny bundle in their arms. The closest of couples they’d always been, but something about having a baby just made them feel complete. While plugging along in her second trimester, Cinda suddenly experienced a placental abruption due to two large fibroid tumors that were never diagnosed. The fibroids punctured her placenta, leading immediately to extensive blood loss. By the grace of God, Mark and Cinda’s mother were thankfully nearby and frantically able to rush her to the hospital. As they sped down the road, they were quite aware that Cinda may be bleeding to death. It was a terrifying and challenging time as Cinda underwent surgery to remove the tumors and experienced a long, arduous recovery in the hospital and at home. A perfect, precious little girl, who they named Poppy, was born but was too premature to survive. This dream come true had quickly turned into a nightmare and shook the Boomershines to the core.
As the months went by, their ordeal only got worse. Cinda had no problem getting pregnant, but was unable to stay pregnant, inevitably miscarrying two more times at around 10-12 weeks. She remembers this time as “So dark and so lonely and so depressing.” Cinda says that “People don’t understand. Every time you have an additional miscarriage it just compounds the sorrow…we so badly wanted to be parents.” I ask Mark how this time affected him, and he quietly responds, “You just go into a hole.”
What holes have you found yourself in, my friend? Ever felt pulled into a ditch of depression, grief, or uncertainty? When dreams and desires go unfulfilled as you move further away from the life you thought you would lead, what do you do? How can you climb out of the pit before it chokes the life out of you? Reach out and gain courage from the Lord! He is the ultimate Encourager. Your Heavenly Father is here during these times to strengthen you and provide you with hope. Don’t try to go it alone. Psalm 121: 5-7 promises that
“The Lord watches over you; the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm. He will watch over your life.”
Your Encourager is watching over you! It is so easy to become lost when we do not know how our life will turn out. When the plan does not go how we thought it would. In these times, we have a choice. We can contemplate giving up, think negatively and sink deeper into our sadness and frustration. Or we can hold on, embrace positive thoughts and lean on our Encourager for strength.
“Blessed are those whose strength is in You…
Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.”
(Psalm 84:5; 105:4)
Gaining this strength from their Savior, the Boomershines plowed ahead. Poked, prodded and evaluated, every test imaginable was pursued, but in the end, “You’re just having bad luck,” is what they were told. Oh, how draining! How frustrating! What to do next?
IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), along with genetic testing, became their next course of action in order to speed up the process of getting pregnant. Since Cinda, in fact, had no trouble becoming pregnant, this may have seemed like an unusual course to take. But considering her age and the pain and suffering that her body had already endured, they couldn’t risk more miscarriages. The laborious effort of taking fertility drugs and hormone injections became part of Cinda’s routine. Such a fighter, she continued faithfully on even through the grueling side effects of mood swings, fatigue and nausea. At last, with hearts full of expectation and hope’s glimmer in their eyes, two rounds of IVF with the traditional medications were conducted. Unfortunately, this light of hope was quickly distinguished when, sadly, neither attempt was successful. Worn out both physically and emotionally, the Boomershines considered abandoning their dream. Mark says, “Men don’t get the physical pain, but they do have the mental anguish of it and it almost becomes physical. I had to be strong for her and had to deal with it in my own way.” Cinda adds,”I thought God was giving me a very painful message that I wouldn’t be a good mom.” She turns to her husband as tears form in her eyes, “but every time I looked at Mark, I just knew he would be a great dad.”
How do you think the Boomershines were able to go on after all of these disappointments? After three lost babies and two failed IVF attempts, how did they make it through? How can any of us go on after our desires are continually crushed and our passion is quickly diminishing? Cinda says that allowing others to help makes a huge difference. She joined a support group at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta for women suffering with infertility. “Having someone to talk to who is going through it or has been through it is key,” Cinda says, “…it helps a lot.” The couple also appreciated the many friends and family members who reached out and provided comfort throughout the process. One particular friend, Sarah, was especially inspirational in calling and texting during moments when Cinda was at her lowest. “It was as if she had a direct connection to God,” Cinda remembers, “I would have spent the day in the bed, watching TV and crying…and be in a pool of tears when Sarah would reach out…God knew exactly when she needed to do it.” Another friend, Jessica, sent her a set of Key Chain Verses. “They sat on my desk through the whole process. That’s where I spent the majority of my time. I would grab them,“ she remembers. They were a comfort to her, “Just knowing they were there and that Jessica wanted to help me in that way.” One of her favorite verses from the chain was,
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again. Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be known to all. The Lord is near.”
Do you realize that you also have a reason to rejoice? Your gentle Encourager is near, my friend. He will often reach you through the kindness of His children. He will love you through the love of others. Recognize it when it happens. You are not alone. He speaks to those around you and finds ways to lift you up at just the right time. When they received comfort from people like Sarah, Jessica, and many others, it was a reminder that they could not give up. A voice inside was convincing them that God may have a greater plan. The same can be true for you. Could God have a greater plan for you right now in your struggle? Have you witnessed the love of a friend at just the right moment? Or is He calling you to be a friend like that to someone else?
Knowing herself better than anyone, Cinda believed that the medications taken for IVF had put her body through so much stress that it had impacted her ability to get pregnant. They came up with a new plan. But would anyone listen? Nervously, they approached the doctor and asked if she could go through the process without the medicine, or as Cinda describes it, “The natural way.” To their delight, although he had never done it before, her doctor agreed to give it a shot. She had had 5 embryos extracted, 2 had not taken in previous attempts and so there were 3 left. They implanted the third and, here we go, Cinda became pregnant. Could this be the answer? Would they finally hold a baby in their arms? No, not this time. Poor Cinda miscarried yet again. If you’re anything like me, you must be screaming, “Are you kidding me?! How could all of this happen to one couple?” Over these past five years, this would make 6 pregnancies, 5 miscarriages and 1 neonatal death that the Boomershines had suffered. Nearly destroyed by this most crushing loss, they were tempted to just accept that they couldn’t have a baby. What else could they possibly do? But wait…A test was done after this last miscarriage, as the doctor was equally perplexed by this recent failure. Due to a human error, this third embryo that was implanted had been incorrectly cleared of abnormalities. Hope stayed alive. They had two perfect embryos left.
When things don’t make sense. When life seems unfair, don’t give up. Hold on. Your Heavenly Father just might be making a way for you. It is easy to get discouraged and feel totally alone. But even in the midst of the uncertainty, your Encourager remains certain. Certain that He loves you. Certain that He wants the best for your life. All He asks you to do is move forward one step at a time. Don’t lose hope. Keep trying. He knows you may be afraid. He sees that you may not have the strength. That’s ok, He has enough for both of you, and His strength will never give out. He will bear the weight if you place your faith in His plan.
“In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.”
Psalm 118: 5-6
You may not have the solution to your problem yet, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. What if it is one, two, three steps away? If we only focus on what we lack to our plan, we are missing the opportunity to look toward what might be up ahead. This is where faith and trust in God come in. This is where a positive outlook can be key. What if you are on the home stretch and don’t even know it? The way may not be exactly how you would design it, but God is the Grand Designer and will do what He thinks is best for you. How sad would it be to learn that the blessings God had planned for you were just one more try away, but you gave up before they could be revealed? Harriett Beecher Stowe teaches that “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you…never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” If you knew the future; if you had a crystal ball showing you what was down the road – that you would meet that person, get that job, be cured of that illness, see your child graduate… wouldn’t it be easier to press on? Your Encourager sees your whole life and knows your future. He has a plan and will take care of you. He knew what was in store for the Boomershines…
I follow Mark down the hall to a small office. Before I see it, I hear the swooshing of the swing. And there he is, cherub-faced and innocent, little Ryland Walter “Rex” Boomershine. I gently lean down to gaze at this seven month old, dozing angel when he opens his eyes and flashes me a gummy grin through his green pacifier. I fight back tears of pure joy. Just looking at this little bundle of perfection, I am in awe of what God can do. His immaculate plan. This child was part of it. And my delight only grows as Cinda escorts me up the stairs to a bedroom decorated with soft, feminine colors. With golden hair and the same kind, brown eyes of her father, two year old Calypso Belle Boomershine looks up at me as she fights any idea of a nap. Admiring her darling face, I see her mother’s beauty and determination. She is a nugget of yumminess as the flawless creation of the One who made her. The same One who gave her parents the strength these last five years. This little girl is a trail-blazer and she doesn’t even know it. Through the darkness, the disappointments, the eight pregnancies, God has revealed Himself in these children. “God had a spectacular plan, in hindsight,” Cinda says,” God took care of us. We just had to have faith.”
You know, dear reader, at any point they could have given up. Would you have blamed them after the second, third, or fourth miscarriage? What about the fifth? But something kept them going. What was it? It was the support of loved ones. It was their belief in their Heavenly Father and the confidence that He was with them and had a plan. And what a plan it was! The goal was not just to impact their family, but to aid many other families as well. The couple explains, “Other people have been helped through our trials and tribulations. Belle was the first baby born through this process of the natural transfer. Our doctor has adopted this method with carefully chosen patients and has achieved a 93% success rate.” At last count, Cinda and Mark say there were over 40 babies born using this technique!
Your journey may look similar to the Boomershines, or it might be uniquely different. Either way, whatever you’re struggling with, God is right there with you. He will not leave you or forget about you, so open your heart to His love and His leading. Accept that His plan may be just perfectly designed for you, His treasured child, and cling to your faith and hope.
I ask them how this whole experience has changed them. Glancing at each other with a shared understanding and the solidarity of two soldiers who have been through battle, they confidently share how they are more appreciative for everything now. The world looks different to them as they more readily embrace gratitude and compassion. “This whole process brings you to your knees,” Cinda explains,” and it has made us stronger. We got through this, so we can get through anything…you have to just find the light when it’s dark.” Mark reminds me of his favorite C.S. Lewis quote and how it perfectly describes their view of God during this journey:
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Cinda and Mark are certainly listening clearly today. Their ears are receptive now more than ever as the Father’s voice encourages faith, perseverance, optimism, and hope. He is encouraging this in you too, my friend. Thank you, Boomershines, for your undying courage and strength, but most of all, thank you for never giving up, for believing in God’s plan and showing us so beautifully from your lives what can shine through the darkness.
You can find Mark and Cinda online respectively at:Cinda – cinda b Mark – Mark Boomershine