Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mother's Day Identity Crisis

Living in a world where labels tell people so much about who you are can be a tough spot for those in waiting and in longing. Don't get me wrong. I love so many of the labels that identify me. Wife, teacher, sister, friend, life group leader, coach, neighbor, American, and daughter are just of the few labels that I am so proud and humbled to be called. Every year around this time, I found that I struggle with what label I fall under in the "mother" category. Yes, yes, I know, I know. Many of my very sweet friends and family reading this would quickly respond and say, "Of course we look at you as a mother, Rach". But you see, I have found that it is not the labels that people give us, but the labels we see ourselves as that truly define our identity. 

Because you see, no matter how many times, you tell me I am a mother, I still find myself struggling with the big "Mother's Day Decision" do I stand and be recognized at church when they honor mothers? I know, it may not seem like this big life altering decision, but to someone in my place it can be really tough. I have found on Mother's Day that whether I sit or stand (I've done both; you get to test out lots of scenarios and experiences when you wait so long) I still feel awful and unsure. This is one of the many reasons, I have skipped many Mother's Day services. If I am a mom, then why do I find myself telling my husband how I just want to be a mom? This has been a label that I just get really hung up on. You see, we started the adoption process in May 2012, and we are still waiting for the day to bring our child home. Maybe it is just me that has struggled with this; however, I have found that as I have shared my thoughts and experiences that I am not usually alone, so I hope this post reaches the right person at the right time.

It can tough to be the only one not in a certain category. Although others probably don't think of it, I am often the only women in a group without any children. When you start to compare your story with someone else's things can turn ugly fast. You start to identify yourself as alone, not enough, uncertain, jealous, and angry. Many people will isolate themselves because they feel people don't understand what they are going through or that people will judge them if they are truly honest with our feelings. This is the biggest identity crisis of all. Good news! If your currently here, you don't have to stay here because you are so much more than what you're telling yourself!

My hope for you is as Mother Day approaches, you realize that although this label may seem like the biggest and most important label in your life (Trust me! I know it is important. I can't wait for the day that someone calls me mommy), you come to understand that there is one far greater. You see many times in waiting, we become so focused on the label that we are longing for that we are blinded by who we already are! Through my faith in Jesus, I have come to acknowledge that my greatest identity is not in what I make myself whether that be teacher, wife, friend, or mother. No, you see I have been looking at myself through my eyes. As I step away from the mirror and I push aside all the many labels that I often use to identify myself, I find my identity in Jesus. This is an on-going process that I am still working on and reminding myself. Trust me, I have not arrived.

Although I am not where I want to be, I have found that as I look at my identity in Christ and not in myself, I can rest in who He says I am. In Christ I am labeled Forgiven, Bold, Wonderfully Made, Set Apart, Adopted, Free, Delighted in, and a Child of God. These are just a few of the beautiful labels that I can confidently call myself as I see myself with this new identity. Does it answer the question of whether I should call myself a mother or not? I haven't quite fully come to the conclusion of how I see myself. I want to see myself as a mother, but it is a struggle, and maybe it is okay with just however I feel that day because above all I have realized that no matter what label I choose, the labels that haven been chosen for me through Jesus give me the ability to rest in my TRUE IDENTITY.  Remember choosing and feeling are two very different words. Many days I feel one way, but I have to choose to view myself the way God sees me.

This just happens to be the label that I struggle with the most. For you, it may be something else. Maybe it's a job title, a relationship status, or a label you are trying to remove. These things aren't usually bad, and often times are some of our greatest achievements. So rejoice in your accomplishments and be proud of what you have done, but never lose sight that what you have done doesn't come close to what has been done for you.

For those mothers that are reading this, I hope that you too come to see your identity beyond the amazing yet challenging role of motherhood. I pray that you feel so loved and honored this coming Sunday. I in no way am trying to take away from celebrating you. I am so thankful to be the daughter of the best mother in the world, to be the sister of the most selfless and caring new mom I have ever seen, and to be friends with such beautiful, humble women who give me such an amazing example of motherhood.


1 Peter 2:9                      1 Peter 2:24                      Romans 8:15                      Zephaniah 3:17
Psalm 139:14                  Galatians 5:1                    2 Corinthians 3:12             1 John 3:1


Sunday, May 1, 2016

An Empty Room

We bought a new house
But it has an empty room
When we bought the new house
The room was meant for you

Some people said I should leave it alone
Some people said to decorate it soon
Some worry that it will hurt too much
Some said I should await for you

We bought a new house
But it has an empty room
When we bought the new house
The room was meant for you

Daddy and I have decided to make it yours
It has colors, books, and pictures galore
We are waiting on the bed to see how big you are
We're sure you'll like the room; don't worry our room isn't very far

It is hard to walk by it every day
It constantly reminds us you haven't come to stay
But now we have a special place to think of you and pray
We are ready for you as soon as they say, "Today is the day!"

We bought a new house
We're just missing you
We bought a new house
The room is no longer empty of stuff, but it sure feels empty without you.






Tuesday, November 17, 2015

GO FOR IT!

I can't tell you how many people have shared with me that they would love to adopt, but it just isn't possible.

I am here to tell you IT IS!

I mentioned in my last post that adoption is not for everyone, and I truly believe that; however, I want you to know that if it is truly on your heart, YOU SHOULD GO FOR IT!

The top two reasons I usually hear are:
1. Money
2. It is too late

Many people have told me that they can't adopt because of the prices. Although international and private adoptions are extremely expensive, domestic adoption through the foster care system is FREE! Yes! FREE! Many states even offer money to help cover the cost of childcare, food, etc.
If money is the only thing stopping you, please look into state adoptions and the foster care system.

I would also encourage you who feel called to a specific country or area in the world, to start pursuing that. I would have never imagined that the cost of our adoption would be possible, but with smart budgeting, fundraising, a giving community, and grants what looked like a mountain in the beginning now looks like a small speed bump.

Many people feel that it is too late. When we went to our foster care training classes, there were people of all ages stepping into foster care. It is not too late to open your heart and home to a child who is in need of nurturing, security, and love. I guarantee it will be perfect timing for a child praying for a family.

I would encourage any of you who have ever even thought about adopting to begin to research. There are many different programs and avenues when it comes to adoption. You may just find the right choice for you and your family. I always encourage people to educate themselves, and I would ask that you do the same. Even if you aren't even sure, sign up for the free foster classes provided by the state. It will tug at your heart for sure, but also give you a rude reality check.


Don't let fear stop you. Don't let other people discourage you! Don't just sit and wait for someone else to step in!

           YOU ARE GREATLY NEEDED!

“Adoption has the dimension of connection — not only to your own tribe, but beyond, widening the scope of what constitutes love, ties and family. It is a larger embrace. By adopting, we stretch past our immediate circles and, by reaching out, find an unexpected sense of belonging with others.”
Isabella Rossellini

Sunday, November 1, 2015

National Adoption Month

Many people do not feel that adoption is right for their family for a variety of reasons. I do truly believe that adoption is not for everyone, but I believe helping orphans is something we can all be a part of.

Here are some practical ways you can help orphans (both domestically and internationally):

1. Help raise awareness. There are millions of orphans globally that need someone to speak upon their behalf. Speak about this issue. You don't need a huge platform; speak with friends and family.

2. Find an organization that helps orphans and volunteer your time or support them financially.  There are many great organizations out there!

3. Be understanding and encouraging. Although adoption may not be right for you, support your friends and family who feel called to this. It is scary and unpredictable. Listen to what they are telling you and understand that their children may have needs that your biological children do not.

4. Pray for the orphans around the world. Pray for the families that are in the process of adopting and those who have adopted. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

An Aha Moment

This weekend, I attended a women's conference at my church and was so encouraged to hear women share their stories of overcoming trials and adversity. There was such beauty in the truth of their stories as they shared how this was not the life they planned. Though challenges came and wrecked their lives, they found ways to turn their situations that were so dark and terrible into something good. Even though they hated what they were enduring, they were able to find ways that their pain and hurting could impact others for good.

Many times I find myself questioning God and asking, "Why us?". Why was Jeffrey born with this horrific disease when there was only a 25% chance of him having it? Why did you call us to this adoption if it was going to be so painful and disappointing? Why aren't you moving in our situation? And if I was completely honest, I have also found myself asking, "Why them?" Why are they getting blessings we are praying for? Why would you do that for them and not for me? I know that is terrible, but it is the truth of my ugly and sinful heart at times. 

Thankfully, I have a husband that so wonderfully demonstrates God's goodness and faithfulness. Despite everything he has faced and faces, he remains joyful and hopeful at all times. Can I just say this can be incredibly annoying at times! Sometimes you just want to have a pity party and wallow in your sorrow. Jeffrey will not attend my pity parties and reminds me of all that have to be thankful for in our lives. THANK YOU, LORD FOR MY HUSBAND! I would not be the woman I am today without him. Jeffrey many times will remind me that maybe God called us to adopt not just to change the life of our child, but to do a major work in us. Probably more me than Jeffrey, but he includes himself because he is humble.

This weekend, I had one of those aha moments. You know when you don't understand something and then suddenly it clicks! I'll admit, I still don't understand a lot of this process fully, but I do think that it has opened opportunities for me to love on and speak to women that maybe I wouldn't know how to if this would have just been a quick, painless process. I have always had a heart for the poor and needy. Many of you know I have spent years in the inner-city, I have gone to several third world countries, and I am so comfortable speaking to those who have less. Speaking to childless women well that has never been something I knew how to do. Although I have never been extremely poor,  I have easily sympathized with people, cried with them, and did my best to help. There are some situations and areas of hurt that need more than sympathy. They require empathy. This weekend I cried with two different women as I shared the pain of longing for a child. The pain when you cry yourself to sleep, the pain of guarding your heart from jealously and bitterness, the pain of feeling like maybe you aren't enough- I have felt these pains. Though I know many women choose to not have children, one of the beautiful opportunities of being a woman is the privilege to be mother, and it can be devastating and unbearable when your heart longs for this, but your situation seems impossible. This weekend, I saw how my empathy was just what they needed. I didn't try to fix something or tell them that their hurt would go away; I just let them feel my empathy.

I started off this post by sharing how the women spoke about how life doesn't always go how you planned it. I would currently have a couple kids, we would be living in a beautiful house, I would be a little skinnier, my hair wouldn't need coloring so often, and my bank account would be a little bigger, but life happens. Because life has happened, I have learned to see the humorous in the darkest moments; I have learned to keep on living while I am waiting for more of my life to begin, and I have so thankfully been able to connect with and encourage others who feel like they are sinking in a similar ocean.

The intent of this post is not to share how awesome and inspirational I am. Let's face it- I am a mess! The intent is to encourage you to look a little bit beyond your current struggles and see how God can use you where you are. Don't wait to be where you want to be. I would love for God to sweep me up, give me a miracle, and let my baby be in my arms tomorrow, but until He does, I am going to keep going. I trust He is standing with me and has a reason for me to still be here. When I signed up for this adoption, I thought I was going to have to endure a little bit of heartache for a couple months. Three and a half years later, I have come to see that there is something bigger than me and my baby. There is purpose in this wait, and I am just beginning to learn a little part of it.

Romans 12:11-13 MSG Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

We are Moving!

We are so excited to move and see all that God has for us next, but I can't help but think of all the memories this house holds. If these walls could talk, they would have so much to say. Some of their words would probably surprise you, some would make you cry, some would make you laugh hysterically, and some would make you think deeply. Life has happened here. I thank God for providing us with this place that we have called home for the past 7 years and for teaching us so much about ourselves and each other while we have been here. I'm so thankful for all of the friends and family that have entered and shared memories with us. 

 When we started the adoption process, we never would have guessed that it would have taken this long. We worried that moving could impact our adoption, so we tried to wait. As we prayed and sought God about next steps, we felt confident in selling the house. We trusted that in God's time the house would sell, and the adoption would not be put on hold. Right now, we are on the house hunt for a place in Missouri. Please pray that we find a place and that the transfer of all our documents will go smoothly. We will have to redo all our paperwork for the state of Missouri, and we will be working with a new social worker. Though this will be a lot of work and more money, this process has taught me not to fear and think of the worst case scenarios, but to continue to live.  Although I am waiting for something, I can't stop living. For us and our future family, we feel we are making the right step. Thank you for your continued prayers and support.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Update in Ethiopia

Elections have definitely slowed things down on the adoption front. Many families are waiting for documents, waiting for approvals, and waiting for the court dates. Not a lot of movement has happened in the last month.

MOWCYA (The Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs) which is a big part of the adoption process in the Ethiopian government was shut down for almost two weeks due to no power, and now they have slowed down significantly due to new staff from the outcomes of the recent elections.

PRAYER REQUEST:
Please pray for diligence in the new team that they are building and that MOWCYA will be staffed with adoptive friendly people who will process papers efficiently.

Please pray for Embassy clearances for families waiting to go home (It seems that as more families go home then they will start matching more children again)

Please pray for both the US government and the Ethiopian government officials to see the importance of their jobs and become more efficient in processing times.

Please pray that more adoptions are able to be processed before the rainy season comes! It is coming soon! (The government shuts down once it starts to rain)