Saturday, December 31, 2016

OUR YEAR IN A JAR- 2016 Edition

One of my favorite traditions is our end of the year jar. It gives us such a great perspective on all wonderful things that has happened in the year. Without our jar, we have found that we really focus on the BIG stuff- whether that be good or bad. What I love about our jar, is it reminds us of little things that we often would not remember, but it brings us smiles and joy as we remember the sweet little moments that we have experienced throughout the year. We don't have a system of when we put things in, so some months have more than others. We simply keep the jar on our coffee table with a pen and paper all year long, and we fill it as things happen.

Our jar is filled with Adventures, Answered Prayers, Laughable Moments, Blessings, and Things We Don't Want to Forget. 

Okay so 2016!

Wow! What a year it has been. Like every year, it has been filled with good and not so good. Our hearts have been broken and hurt for many people nationally and around the world for various reasons. We have seen humanity at its worst and its best. We have celebrated some of the most exciting things of our lives, and we have been devastated by news of health and loss of those we love so dearly.  

So in no particular order, here are some of the highlights from the Woodson family jar.
1. Germany!
2. A cool surprise to get an autographed picture of my favorite drummer from Ms. Kathy.
3. GEMMA WAS BORN!
4. We finally found a house! AND WE BOUGHT IT!
5. August 22, 2016- We saw our son, Zane, for the first time! REFERRAL DAY!
6. Thankful for new friendships that are developing
7. 1st Bahama Bucks. Delicious!
8. DC was an adventure! Haha!
9. Blessed to have a beautiful God-daughter from my best friend. 
10. We no longer have a lime green kitchen.
11. Bought our new neighbors a dozen donuts and introduced ourselves.
12. Had ice cream with Sumi on Grandparents day!
13. So blessed by all the love from friends and family through the trivia night and t-shirt fundraiser
14. Taking piano lessons to help with songwriting
15. Fun 4-wheeling in Vandalia for Jon's 30th

It has been far from perfect, and not ending exactly like we would want it to, but we are blessed and so very thankful for the great things that this year has brought! As we empty our 2016 jar, we are looking forward to new and exciting moments and adventures in 2017! We pray that 2017 will be a year full of jar worthy moments for you and your family.




Saturday, December 17, 2016

Waiting on a Printer


We live in a world where our lives are so very dependent on the technology that we use.  I mean seriously! I can’t find my way home from anywhere; I don’t have a real alarm clock; I definitely don’t know the phone numbers of any of my friends; I have to google so many things every day! Maybe you are better than me, but functioning without technology can be rough. Many of us have become so dependent on it that we can’t imagine a life without the resources that are so easily accessible to us.

This week, I was having a rough time thinking about this sweet little boy of ours. Everyone knows the holidays make it difficult to be away from those you love. I have been playing Christmas music in my class all week, and every time I hear the song “All I Want for Christmas is You”, I can’t help but think how true that statement is in my life right now. Since Ethiopia is still in a State of Emergency, internet and cell phone use is still extremely limited. Zane’s nannies are saying they get access about an hour a day. CAN YOU IMAGINE? This has clearly been slowing everything down. Some of you are aware that we are currently waiting on two more documents (Zane’s birth certificate and a clearance form) before we can move on to the next step of the adoption process. We were so excited when our family coordinator told us that it looks like there could be a possibility that we could receive these papers this week. We have been slow to celebrate couldbes because we have learned that they usually don’t happen in this crazy process, but we were really hoping. When I received an email this week, I was pretty excited because I knew this was probably it.

As I began reading the letter, it all sounded pretty good. The workers at Zane’s home took him to the government office (Good...) They were able to locate his paperwork (AWESOME…) They went to print the document (YES!), but the printer was broken, so they were sent away and told to come back some other time (WHAT?!). It is so hard for Americans to fathom these kind of problems when it comes to third world countries. When I was in Africa, if something wasn't working, it wasn't working, and that's that. I am assuming that is how it went this week. So apparently the government building has a broken printer at the moment, and we will not be receiving Zane's birth certificate until it is fixed. 

So back to the technology talk. It seems like such an easy fix. It seems like they could simply buy a new printer, fix the one they have, or surely they have more than one right? Well... many places like this are limited on what they have available, and we truly have no idea how long this could take. Although Zane's birth certificate and paperwork are definitely our top priority, unfortunately, fixing the printer may not be someone else's. We are happy to know that his birth certificate is there, but it is almost more frustrating to know that we have access to it, and we can't have it!

So why am I typing this? Well... A lot of people have been asking me what is happening with the progress of the paperwork, and here is my current answer "We are currently waiting on them to fix a printer." It sounds absurd and crazy, but it is the reality of this adoption and where we are right now.

When I read the email that my son is currently not any closer to coming home because of a broken printer, I am not going to lie, I was frustrated and so very discouraged. A broken printer would typically appear to be such a small and easy fix, but has suddenly become a mountain of uncertainty.

Though there is uncertainty and frustration, I am thankful that I have such supportive and encouraging people in my life. God continues to show His faithfulness through the people He has put in my life for such a time as this. When I don't have it all together and I am a complete mess. I can be real and share my heartaches and pains. I am reminded that this is not forever and that I will bring my son home.

I don't know if you are waiting on something this Christmas season or if you are believing for some type of change in some area in your life, but if you are, I encourage you to keep believing. Maybe you have a broken printer in your life or maybe you feel like it is a room full of broken printers. I pray that whatever your current situation looks like, you will focus on what you are believing for in your life. It's okay to have a moment. It's okay to be a mess. But never lose sight of your dream, your longing, your purpose, your calling.

Although miles, time, governments, oceans, and even printers stand in our way, I have confidence that this is not forever and that Zane will be home with his daddy and me soon.

Hebrews 11:1 "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see."


al Asia and took their sons (363).

Sunday, November 13, 2016

When You Saw Me


Oh how very sweet and exciting it was answer the phone call where we discovered who you were. We learned about your village, your past, your medical history, and more, but we were anxiously waiting to see your face. After we hung up the phone, we impatiently kept refreshing our email until suddenly THE EMAIL APPEARED. The email where we laid eyes on you for the first time. Oh how precious those first pictures were. Your beautiful dark brown skin was the first thing we noticed.  We laughed (in a loving way I promise) at your adorable pointy ears and your chubby cheeks. Your lips were pressed tightly together, and you didn't reveal any teeth although we knew you had them. Bright yellow crocs were pointed out quickly by daddy. He really likes shoes, and he is excited to shoe shop with you. You sat strongly on the little ledge on the landscaping at the Transition Home and looked so innocently at the camera. Tiny little hands clasped together as if they didn't know where else to go.  Daddy and I just stared and stared at you. Tiny overalls with an oversized stained shirt underneath was what you were wearing. We couldn't believe you were real. We couldn't believe you were ours. I seriously stayed up all night staring at you. My heart and mind were too excited to sleep. A mommy NEVER forgets the first time she sees her child.

Though the day I saw you is one of my favorite days in my entire life, I think I love the day you saw me even more. Daddy and I knew pictures of you were coming and a daddy of one of your friends actually sent us a video of you opening the package we sent to you. The Hotwheels and whistles seemed to be your favorite although you were also pretty pumped about your new toothbrush. When your nanny open our photo, she told you that we were your mommy and daddy and you just kind of looked at us. She pointed to us and said, "Mommy and Daddy". Your nanny then said, "Mommy" and you pointed to me and quietly whispered, "Mommy". She then said, "Daddy", and you quietly whispered, "Daddy". You were so quiet we could barely hear your little voice. Tears ran down our faces as your bright eyes took us in for the first time. It felt so much more real to us. You see we had known about you for quite some time and were learning all about you, but today, you discovered us. As you held our picture up to the camera and smiled proudly with your white teeth showing brightly, we laughed and cried. After staring at us for a few seconds, you kissed our photo (with a little prompting from your nanny) and our hearts stopped.  You quickly went back to your Hotwheels and didn't really want to tell the camera bye because you were so distracted by your other gifts. I don't know if you will remember this day, but this is a day I will never forget. Seeing our pictures in your hands just exploded our hearts.

Our love for you is growing every day. As we learn more about you, we feel so much closer to you, even though you are still so very far away. Even though the day I saw you for the first time and the day you saw me were on different days, I know my favorite day of all will be when we see each other for the first time in Ethiopia. We love you so very much, and we can't wait for you to be in photos with us instead of us just looking at photos of each other. Praying for your heart and mind as you are about to make this huge transition. We know this may be scary and unfamiliar, so we promise to do our very best to make you feel safe and loved.  Like I said, WE CAN'T WAIT for the next first!

I really wanted to post the picture of you kissing our photo, but daddy says we can't break the law. He's right. This is a picture of your nanny handing you our package.

Orphan Sunday

This Sunday, many churches around America advocate for orphans through a program called Orphan Sunday. This is the short video that many churches will be starting their morning services with this year.  CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

Many of you know of the need, and today, I challenge you to be a part of the solution. Here are a few ways you can help with advocating for orphans.

1. Pray for orphans here in the United States and globally.
2. Find a foster/ adoptive family and figure out a way to love on them.
3. Begin researching foster care in your state.
4. Begin researching adoption and thinking about what that would look like for your family.
5. Consider being a respite family (you would have a child in your home for 1-5 days while a foster family is out of town, needs a break, or has an emergency)
5. Donate to organizations such as ShowHope that help adoptive families financially (They really do!) or organization that help with orphan care.
6. BE CREATIVE and think of your own way to be a part for advocating for these children that God's loves so deeply.




Saturday, October 29, 2016

Update on Ethiopia


I wanted to write an update on what we currently know about the State of Emergency in Ethiopia.

The courts have opened which is wonderful news since that is where we are going on our first trip to Ethiopia. You may have also read on social media that we received pictures and updates of Zane! All of this may have sounded like things are back to normal, but unfortunately, they are not. The State of Emergency is set to be in place for six months.

We had a conference call with our adoption agency on Thursday, and they told us internet and cell phone use is still being limited greatly. Zane's home currently gets an hour or two of internet a day which does not allow them time to send all the emails and documents that they need to send. This also means that all of the paperwork we are currently waiting on is going much slower than usual (if that is somehow possible) due to limited time to access the internet and connect with people they need to connect with. They said to expect longer wait times between our court (first trip) and embassy(second trip) due to this as well.

They have to tell us that the US government is advising us not to travel unless it is an absolute emergency. Some families are now very nervous to travel and are trying to decide if they will travel when they get a court date or not. Jeffrey and I will be traveling. We are going to use wisdom, but we are also going to do everything we can to bring Zane home as quickly as possible. They told us if we are traveling, then we need to stay in Addis Ababa, the capital, and not go anywhere else. This is so unfortunate because we really wanted to travel and learn about Zane's homeland and culture. We wanted to see his village and speak to people from his region. We know miracles can happen, but at this time, we plan on staying in the capital while we are in country. The Department of State specifically mentions Zane's region as a place to avoid. I won't go into all the details, but if you want to read more, click here.

On the conference call, many families mentioned how their children are outside of Addis Ababa in orphanages which will make seeing their children difficult when they are in country. Many of them asked when their children will be moved to The Transition Home. They said that children are usually moved to The Transition Home after they pass court, so I don't know how he is there already, but I am so thankful that Zane is in The Transition Home in Addis Ababa, and he is receiving great care. This also means we will probably be able to see him much more often while we are in country since he is in the capital. I am so thankful that he is there!

There are two families traveling this coming week who have offered to take pictures for us, so we are very excited to get more photos of our boy! The photos we have now are not the best quality, so we are hoping these will be better! I will tell you he is growing! His cheeks may be the best thing ever! I can't wait to kiss them! In our recent update they told us his height, his weight, and his head size. He is small for his age, but we already knew that. They told us he is sleeping through the night, and he has a great appetite. They described him as a more calm and serious child, but they said he enjoys being around people. We finally have some picture of him smiling! Hoping to get more! I really wish I could post them and show you all!

Prayer request:
1. Please pray that our PAIR process moves quickly so we can receive a court date
2. Please pray for Zane's safety and his health. He is currently fighting a respiratory infection and an ear infection, and I really wish he was home for us to snuggle with him!
3. Please pray for Ethiopia during this time of unrest.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Calling all Warriors

I've been stalking my emails this week because we were told we would be receiving pictures and updates on our little man. My heart leaped with joy as I saw we finally had the email we were waiting on; however, it turned out to not be what we wanted at all.

Adoption has definitely prepared me for the unexpected. Sadly, it has made me cautious to rejoice at good or promising news. We've learned that things can change in a matter of minutes or at least it seems for the better or the worse. It has showed me how so many things are out of my hands. In the wait, we have grown and learned so much for that I am so very thankful, but the wait has been far harder and painful than it has pleasant.

Today was a painful day. Today, I have been provided with two choices in how I can respond to the news I received. I can sit and cry and I may do that, or I can stand and fight the only way I know how in this current situation. We were just given the heartbreaking, gut punching news that the Prime Minister of Ethiopia has declared a State of Emergency due to widespread unrest. We have been told that they are no longer opening courts today as planned. Because of the current climate in Ethiopia and the state of emergency, there is potential for additional delays with court and MOWCYA. Along with the state of emergency issued, the Ethiopian government has been monitoring and shutting off the internet all together. Travel, communication and work in general has been very difficult the past couple of weeks. 

My fight sometimes seems unheard and many times feels useless, but my baby is on the other side of the world, and I can do one and one thing only. I can pray! I am asking for all my prayer warriors to please take time right now, today, and this week to pray for Ethiopia!


Prayer Request: 
1. Pray for peace in the unrestful time.
2. Pray for Zane and all the children of Ethiopia to be safe.
3. Pray that the government will move in a positive direction and we will be able to travel to bring our son home. 

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
‭‭John 16:33

Saturday, September 24, 2016

TRIVIA NIGHT FUNDRAISER!


We are so excited for the trivia night! We love you all so much! We can't wait to have a big family/friend reunion playing trivia and helping to bring Zane home! Leah has an awesome night planned with great door prizes and really fun trivia questions! Thanks for being a part of this crazy journey!

When:Saturday, November 12 at 6:15 PM
1108 Lebanon Ave, Belleville, Illinois 
RESERVE YOUR TABLE BY EMAILING: woodsontrivia@gmail.com

*Details From Leah About the Night*
1.) Please note that the trivia night is at the SCHOOL and not the church. Enter through the back doors.  
2.) Doors will open at 4:45pm and trivia will start at 6:15pm. Please have all members of your team here by 6:15 so we can start on time. 
3.) Bring food and drinks of your choice- we will be selling soda and iced tea that evening. 
4.) Bring extra money- we will have mulligans for sale for $1 a piece, raffle for a beautiful handmade afghan and a 50/50 game.
5.) Prize for 1st place and really fabulous door prizes will be given out each round (SERIOUSLY! YOU WANT TO COME!)
6.) You can respond to this event through facebook, but to actually secure a table please send your reservation to woodsontrivia@gmail.com. A team is 8-10 people per table and $10 a person. If you do not have enough players to create a team of at least 8, let me know and I will do my best to get you on a team. Payment will be collected the night of the event. Please reserve your table by November 5th. If you have any question at all please don't hesitate to ask. 
7.) THIS IS GOING TO BE AMAZING!!! THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR LOVE AND SUPPORT.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Top Three Questions

Since our exciting news, we have been overwhelmed with so much love and support by all the wonderful people who are connected to us. We know that so many of you have felt like you have been on this emotional journey with us every step of the way, and we are so very thankful for your constant support through it all. We know you are all almost just as excited as us. Sorry have to say almost! WE ARE PRETTY PROUD PARENTS! With your excitement many of you have asked us lots of questions, so I am going to answer the top three questions for you.

Question #3: What do you know about him? What is his name? Do you know why he is in an orphanage? How old is he?

Answer: We know he is an absolutely adorable two year old boy. His village is in Western Ethiopia very close to Sudan.  His name is Zane meaning "Gift of God". We are naming him that, but we will be using his Ethiopian name for his middle name. We do know how he came to the orphanage, but we feel like some of Zane's story is Zane's story. We want him to be able to find things about himself from us, and we want to respect him by allowing him to know things about his past before everyone else does. Zane is so very loved, and he has been loved from the beginning of his life and long before he was even born, so we want to be able to tell him about his story before he became a Woodson when he is ready to hear it, and if he wants to share it than he can definitely do that. We are hoping to travel to his village, but there is currently quite a bit of unrest there, so it is uncertain if we will be able to do so. We are also hoping to meet some of his biological family and take pictures of them and learn as much as we can about them.

Question #2: Can I see a picture of him?

Answer: YES! We would love to show you his sweet little face; however, we legally cannot share his photo online until we go to court and legally become his parents. So you will not be seeing any pictures of Zane on social media until we meet him. We will gladly show you the next time we see each other!

#1 Question asked: When will you bring him home?

Answer: We currently don't know. We are currently waiting on the Ethiopian government to find documents about Zane and his biological family that show he truly is an orphan. Once all of those documents are found (this can take months due to variety of reasons such as traveling problems in Ethiopia, locating people, and Ethiopian government not working due to holidays and rainy season), the US Embassy will review the documents. Both countries must agree that all the documentation is correct and verify that he is an orphan that is legally able to immigrate to the United States and be adopted. Once both countries agree, we will then wait for a court date. Once we are given a court date, we will travel and stay in Ethiopia for around a week. We will meet Zane, spend lots of time with him, and we will legally become his parents. We will then fly home without him, and we will wait for the US Embassy to get his passport and everything ready, so we can bring him home. We will then fly back to Ethiopia, and we will be there for just a quick trip to pick Zane up, go to the US Embassy, and bring him home. This timeline has varied for many families. This all depends on the accessibility of the paperwork. We want to bring him home ASAP of course, but we are praying that we will be able to celebrate his next birthday with him in America. His 3rd birthday is the end of May.

What you can pray for:
- Please pray that the PAIR process will go smoothly and quickly (this is the process with the US and Ethiopian government working together to approve him to come home)
- Please pray for Zane (his health, his heart, his mind, and for this huge transition that he is about to
   make)

The Call

August 22, 2016 started as many Mondays do. I was rushed, I couldn't find my cellphone, and I decided to leave it at home instead of searching and searching and being late for work. Jeffrey and I had just received a letter from immigration with their approval, so I had asked Jeffrey to email me during the day and on my lunch break, I would send it all to our family coordinator at the adoption agency.

Let me jump back for just one minute here. Jeffrey and I felt like we were getting close, and what I mean by close is we thought we would probably be receiving the call within a year or so. Seriously. If you looked at the unofficially list which we know now is clearly unofficial, it looked like we still had close to 15-20 people ahead of us. We knew many people had switched programs and were on hold for various reasons, but we really did't know for sure where we were. What is funny is about a week before the call, we had talked about our game plan if we ever got the call. We had Jeffrey's number as the primary contact, so we knew they would call him first. I made it very clear that no one should know before he tells me, and that he needs to call me immediately. I told him to call my work and tell them to have someone record me talking the call. We also both agreed not to look at any pictures before we were together. It's nice to have a plan I guess... but many times it doesn't go as planned.

At lunch, I quickly got on my email account emailed our family coordinator and logged off. Since I didn't have my cell phone with me, I had no way of receiving calls. Oh! Right! The plan. They would call Jeffrey and he would call me. Well... Jeffrey had been receiving lots of telemarketing calls throughout the previous week. He saw the call, but he didn't answer because he didn't recognize the number. You see we had talked about making sure to answer any Virginia calls because that is where our adoption agency is based, but our family coordinator was calling us from her own personal cell because she was on maternity leave, but she wanted to make the call to us. So the call did not come from a Virginia area code like we thought it would. Jeffrey ignored two calls, and though there were voicemails, he was busy at work, and he decided to listen to them after got home. He figured they weren't important.

When I got home from work, I got on my laptop because I still had not found my cell phone (this is a normal situation). Jeffrey has an alarm thing where we can alarm my phone, and then I can usually find it in the house. I was getting on my computer to email him to set the alarm off, but I noticed an email from our family coordinator. She said she had called us both several times, and that she really would like to talk to us. My mind went directly to the paperwork we had just sent her. Somehow something must not have been notarized, signed, dated, or a million other things that could possibly go wrong with adoption paperwork. I looked over and saw my phone stuck in the couch, and I grabbed it. I called her back right away.

Kelsey: Hello, this is Kelsey.
Me:  Hey, Kelsey. It's Rachel. Sorry we missed your calls.
Kelsey: That's okay. I need to call and ask you if there was anything new that needed to be updated with your family. Kids? Jobs? Home?
Me: No. Since we just updated everything with the state of Missouri, everything is correct.
Kelsey: Great! Okay well, then I am calling you to let you know that we have a referral!
Me:.............................................................................What! Really! Oh my word! I....I ...I have to hangout up with you. Can I call you back! I don't want to know anything without Jeffrey being here.
Kelsey: Sure.
Me: Okay. It should only be 10 minutes at the most.

Shaking and crying, I call Jeffrey. Thankfully he answered because I don't usually call him around that time.

Jeffrey: Hey.
Me: Jeffrey, you have to come home (crying)
Jeffrey: What's wrong! Are you okay.
Me: They have a referral. They have a referral for us.
Jeffrey: What! I am coming!

While Jeffrey rushed home, I found a camera to record, setup my laptop, and had a notebook and pen ready.

Jeffrey and I both took a guess at the gender, and both guessed boy. We had always thought it was going to be a boy.

We sat down and called Kelsey back. She told us all about our son and congratulated us. She sent over three photos and all his papers. We opened the email and after 4 years, 3 months, and 13 days. we stared into the eyes of our beautiful son. The most ordinary day had suddenly turned into one of the best days of our lives.

Zane, we are so in love with you, and we can't wait for the day that we can hold you in our arms and bring you home.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hit with Reality


If you know me as a teacher, you know that I do my very best, and I want my students to receive a great education and enjoy themselves in my class. I have always said that I want to teach the way that I would want someone to teach my child.

Earlier this week, I discovered that we have a student coming to our school that doesn't speak any English and is coming from a country that would be extremely difficult to translate. Selfishly, I was so relieved to find out that this student was not in the grade that I teach. I even texted a teacher in our grade, and I told her that I was so thankful that we wouldn't have this student.

Last year, I had a student who didn't speak any English, and I was so worried about it at the beginning of the year. It turned out to be the highlight of my school year. His progress was absolutely amazing, and by the end of the year we were having full conversations. He pushed me to be a better teacher, and I was so thankful that he was in my class. But you see, he spoke a language that many people speak, and I could easily (or fairly easily) access novels in his native language. So no, my mind didn't think about the joy and excitement that this student brought to the classroom last year when I heard about this new student coming. Because you see, this would be much more difficult than last year.

As I was sitting in the immigration office today, it suddenly hit me. LIKE SUDDENLY! Here I am sitting in the immigration office surrounded by people speaking all different languages. As I hear the different voices lowly murmuring to one another, I look down at my paperwork and think about the fact that I am applying to adopt a child that will not speak English. This child will speak or at least be familiar with the sounds of Amharic. Do you know anyone who speaks Amharic? Probably not.
Suddenly, I thought about my child's teacher.

My heart sank. I was filled with regret for what I had said, and I felt guilt for being so hypocritical. Why am I telling you this?  This blog is meant to document all the ups and downs of this process. Though the wait has been tough, I was just telling someone this week how the wait and this process continues to open my eyes, change my perspective, and teach me a little more about myself all the time even the parts I'm not so proud to display.

But what does this mean for you?  Well, I guess I would just encourage you to look at a difficult situation from another perspective. I really do think I teach like I would if my kids were sitting in the room, but I forgot to think about my attitude before the kids get there. I know that if that student was in my class, I would do every possible thing I could to help the student progress. It was a good little heart and attitude check though.

One day, my child's teacher is going to get a paper that probably tells them that this is an adopted child from Ethiopia. Kids from places of trauma and hard places can sometimes have challenges that other students don't face. I pray when it's time for my child to go to school that his/her teacher will be slow to make assumptions and complain about extra work that may be needed.

Maybe this post isn't for anyone but me because I can't quite formulate the right words at the moment, so I think I'm going to end it here.

May I always be mindful of others. May I always look at challenges as something new to conquer.

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 find 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 their 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.