05/09/2014 11:48 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

I'm Celebrating Mother's Day for the First Time

holley gerth

When my husband and I married, we assumed adding to our family would be easy. We rode those hopes like a roller coaster for years but we still didn't have children. And over time, the ups and downs in our hearts settled into a deep peace. Even if I didn't have children by birth God has shown me all women are mothers. And He was bringing life into the world through my words.

Yet in a corner of my heart, I'd wrapped up a little dream and held it close for years. It first came after I saw a television special on foster kids who age out of the system. I'm not much of a crier but as the episode concluded, tears trickled down my face. I started telling people, "If I ever adopt, I'll choose a 20-year-old." That led to some quizzical looks and eventually this question, "Have you heard about Saving Grace?"

It turns out a wonderful woman named Becky Shaffer was starting a transitional living home for girls {many of whom had aged out of the foster system} in my town. I sent Becky a completely random email that said something like, "I think I'm gonna adopt a 20-year-old. Can I come over?" She graciously agreed and when we met for the first time we sat on coolers in the middle of the Saving Grace living room with construction happening all around us.

Saving Grace opened just as God opened some new doors for me as well. I began writing books, transitioned out of my current job, and began to travel quite a bit. I kept trying to figure out a way to spend more time at Saving Grace but it never seemed to work out, although that little dream in my heart never went away.

Then last fall around my birthday Becky invited me to a dinner celebrating the girls at Saving Grace. I had just decided the word for my 36th year would be "love." And that evening, my heart was captured by a young woman named...Lovelle.

holley gerth

After that night, I talked with Becky and told her I didn't know when my schedule would ever be regular but I'd love to just come hang out at Saving Grace whenever I could. She kindly agreed, gave me a key and officially introduced me to the girls.

The night of the banquet they all received a copy of my devotional book, Opening the Door to Your God-Sized Dreams. And a few days later a text popped into my phone from Lovelle. "I'm reading your book," she said, "And I really like it." We chatted back and forth by text and then I met her for lunch one day at Saving Grace. She asked if I had kids and I gave her the short story of why we didn't. When I left she hugged me hard and said, "You can be my adopted mom." I'm not sure if she saw the tears of joy spring to my eyes.

I always thought I might adopt. I never imagined someone would adopt me.

Over the next few months, Lovelle and I connected even more. We texted, spent time together, and I helped facilitate an art journaling class at Saving Grace. My husband and I cooked dinner for the girls and Lovelle started calling him "Dad" too. We became a family.

holley gerth

In early April, Lovelle ran a half-marathon. We waited for her at the finish line and as she crossed, I couldn't help thinking of the path she'd taken to get to us. Whenever I heard the song "Bless the Broken Road" I thought of the daughter I might one day adopt and that day as I hugged Lovelle tight the words ran through my mind again.

God's ways are mysterious. Why did Lovelle have to go through so many hard things before she became our daughter? I don't know. Why did Mark and I face over ten years of tears and disappointment? I don't know. But I know this -- God is good beyond all we can ask or imagine.

Lovelle once had this verse on her Facebook page: Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. Psalm 27:10. Not long after we met, she wrote that verse on a card for me along with the words, "He sure did when He gave me you!" God received her...and then He gave her to us. That's a gift beyond all I could have imagined. And how old was our girl when we got her? Twenty, of course.

Lovelle is brave, strong, beautiful, encouraging...everything I hoped for in a daughter {and so much more}. She fills our hearts with joy beyond words. She recently shared her story at a luncheon of 1,100 women and got a standing ovation. She rocked it. Oh, and she loves to write.

I don't know what desire is laying dormant in your heart right now. I don't know what "no" may seem to be echoing in your mind. I don't know how close you are to giving up hope. But I can assure you...we serve a God of YES. Yes to our desires. Yes to our dreams. Yes to surprises that take our breath away.

That's what my daughter and I will be celebrating this Mother's Day.

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This story is part of a HuffPost Healing, a Huffington Post series about physical, mental and emotional healing. Have you had an experience with healing? If so, we'd love to hear it. For Holley, it was her relationship with her 20 year-old daughter. What was it for you? Reach out by e-mailing