The Journey of Adoption –Melissa McKenzie
The journey of adoption looks different for everyone. God calls each of us for different reasons. The call of adoption has been such a beautiful story knitted into my family. The joy and blessings that it has brought to our lives amazes me in so many different ways. But the journey was not always easy and did not always feel joyful. I can remember when we started the adoption process, I entered into it with feelings of excitement and anticipation, but they were also met with feelings of sadness. The sadness was that I wanted to a mom so badly and wasn’t. Was I really meant to be a mom since I couldn’t naturally carry a baby? Would the birth mom love me for me? Would she accept us? These are questions that I kept quiet.If I shared would anyone understand? I can remember going to showers and fighting back tears. Admittedly, I spent some time in the bathroom at some of those showers in tears. I cast all these fears at the feet of the Lord. All the brokenness that I had in this process God so beautifully and sweetly addressed.He brought a beautiful birth mom into our lives that loved Brent and me for who we are. They embraced my story of infertility. The moment when she chose us was on Father’ Day, a day that has been so painful for me for years because of the loss of my dad. God took that brokenness and made it into something beautiful: the moment I held our precious child for the first time!Words cannot even explain the joy I felt. I know that it can be painful in the waiting. You wonder, ͞When will my time come?When will the pain of infertility be replaced by an overwhelming joy?͟Please know it will be—in God’s most beautiful and perfect timing. He sees every tear and hears every prayer. We have now been blessed twice by adoption. Each experience was met with different emotions, but at the end of both, God revealed His beautiful story and perfect timing. I want to end with a verse that spoke so much to me during both of our adoption journeys. ͞But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently͟– Romans 8:25. This verse reminded me daily to wait on the Lord and His perfect timing. I pray if you are reading this and it speaks to you that my words would bring some comfort in a season that the Lord may have you. Just know you are His and you are so loved.
Grace During Grief – Lindy Reamer
Mother’s day is approaching. Around Mother’s Day it seems like my social media feed is flooded with long happy posts about motherhood. Often we pretend that Mother’s Day is as simple as a Hallmark card or a dozen roses. We assume that everyone on Facebook and Instagram have these same happy feelings. But, not everyone has the privilege of being a mother or having a mother they can celebrate.
I lost my mom when I was 21 years old, on May 12th 2015... just 2 days after Mother’s Day. My mom was 53 when she passed away from metastic breast cancer. An avid traveler, a full time psychologist and a woman full of adventure, she wasn’t supposed to die so young. It is hard for me to hear people around me complain about their moms; sometimes I want to say “well hey at least you have a mom”, but I hold back. When I hear people talk about fighting with their moms over wedding details, I don’t say how much I wish my mom could meet my future husband. She will not even attend my wedding, she did not see me graduate from college and she will not be at my law school graduation, and she will not meet her grandchildren. Those milestones are when I particularly notice my mom’s absence and support. I never understood the pain and grief of losing a parent until I experienced it myself.
And through losing my mom, I have learned more about extending grace and receiving grace than I ever thought I could know. I receive grace from my friends when my grief and that lack of support leads me to be grouchy and angry. I extend grace to them instead of letting bitterness and jealousy grow in me as I watch them connect with their wonderful moms. In 1 Thessalonians Paul explains about resurrection through Jesus stating, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him”. Jesus is clear in his exaltation, so I have hope resting in the understanding that my mom is with Jesus. But even as I hope, I’ve learned to be sensitive to the grief others may feel, and the way my actions could be harmful to their healing process.
My Mother’s Days are tinged with nostalgic longing; wishing my mom could embrace me for a quick hug. While I know that appreciation of mothers on Mother’s Day is a good thing, it is important to make space for those who have a different story, one that might be filled with sadness and pain. Just for one Mother’s Day, instead of posting something sticky-sweet on social media, I challenge you to sit down face-to –face with the woman you call mom: enjoy physical time with the one you love. I can tell you – you’ll never regret that kind of celebrating.
Managing the Chaos – libby Starr
When I found out I was going to have my fourth child in five years, several worries popped into my head. How am I going to get my kindergartner to school on time with three babies/toddlers to manage? How long is the dinnertime/bathtime/bedtime routine going to take? Will I have enough love and energy to devote to ALL of them? How on earth am I going to manage four different schedules for the next 18 years? My youngest child is now 4 ½, and I’m happy to say that we made it through the infant and almost through the toddler stages. I can lovingly say it was a beautiful whirlwind, but I know it seemed like more of a crazy disaster while it was happening. Nonetheless, our family has moved onto a new stage in life, and with Mother’s Day being celebrated this weekend, I wanted to share what I feel like has nurtured and helped me as a busy mom of several little ones.
Once my oldest child entered 3rd grade, our after-school activities multiplied greatly. We entered the world of organized sports, real homework, and divide-and-conquer mentalities for my husband and me. We were constantly running in so many directions that I could not physically keep up with it all. I realized that I was going to have to ask for help from some friends. Not wanting to be indebted to anyone for a favor and most certainly not wanting anyone to think I couldn’t handle this all on my own were initial deterrents, but I soon worked out a few carpools for different activities and realized I was helping out friends in the process as well. Isn’t it amazing the joy you can receive from helping out a friend? I now have deals worked out with different friends for gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, track, soccer, t-ball, and playdates. My kids have fostered amazing friendships with other kids as well as other adults, and I feel like we somewhat have a little bit of manageability with our schedules. I even have a friend (ok, it’s actually my sister, but I most certainly would call her one of my greatest friends) that will keep my kids so I can squeeze in a Refine31 class, then I will keep her kids another day for her to do the same!
This is not to say that my family has it all figured out or that we do not ever get overwhelmed, but in the craziness of life with young children and tweens (yikes...cannot believe my oldest is now considered a tween), one of the greatest lessons I have learned is to lean on other moms for their support, encouragement, and help. I look around at Refine31 and see so many fresh, new moms, and I know the baby stage is extremely exhausting and the toddler stage seems never-ending, but you will soon enter a new stage of full schedules (whether you have one child or four), and the late afternoons and evenings seem so daunting. Don’t let it consume you! Find your army of friends to help you through it and for you to help them through it. The benefits you will all receive are countless.
The Other Side of Infertility – kelly Meier
I am one of the lucky ones. I am a mom. I get to go to Christmas programs and on zoo trips. I get to take a ridiculous amount of pictures and show anyone who will look. I am one of the lucky ones. And I know it. I know it because there was a time when I thought it would never happen...that I would never be a mom. And it was a heartbreaking journey.
When I was little, as every little girl does, I would dream of my future. I would dream of my husband and name my future children. It is a game we all play. My dream never included infertility. It never included a life without children. But as my husband and I began our journey, I found that infertility was indeed part of that dream.
I was 32 when my husband and I began to think about starting a family. To many, this is late and I was old but that never crossed my mind. It never occurred to me that I might have trouble. It never even entered my mind that infertility would be the card we would be dealt. But it was. As we began trying to have children, I wasn't surprised when I didn't get pregnant the first month. I almost expected that result. But then one month turned into two and two turned into a year and before I knew it, we had been trying a year and a half with no result.
Anyone who has dealt with infertility understands the heartbreak as the months pass by with no pregnancy. To be completely candid, I took solace in this. I found peace knowing I wasn't traveling this road alone. But it was still heartbreaking.
When my husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for about a year, our doctor decided to begin the first step in infertility treatment. I felt joy in this step because we seemed to have a plan and I followed that plan to the letter, never veering. The joy I felt when I took what seemed like the 1000th pregnancy test and it said 'pregnant' is something I am unable to describe. My husband and I both cried. We were so happy.
My husband and I were so happy the day we went in for our first ultrasound. Finally, a good doctor visit. One filled with happiness. One that didn't throw me deeper into a depression. I knew right away by the ultrasound tech's nonreaction that something was gravely wrong. I made her tell me even though she wasn't supposed to say anything. There is no possible way to describe what the words 'there is no heartbeat' did to me that day. I felt completely broken. I actually don't remember the rest of the appointment but I remember crying harder than I have ever cried. I remember feeling lost and hopeless. I remember going home and not knowing what to do. My husband....the love of my life...saved me that day. He just picked me up and we laid down. I am sure we were there for hours but I have no idea. But he never left my side.
To this day, it one of the biggest losses I have experienced. The emptiness I felt was overwhelming. I prayed to God to give me joy. Without Him, there is no way I would have found it.
But remember, I am one of the lucky ones. I knew that God would not put the desire in my heart to have children if He were not going to fulfill that in some way. I knew there was a plan.
4 months later, I was pregnant with our first child and a year later, our daughter and a year after that, our son.
God is faithful. God is good. He knows the desires of our heart. And to those struggling with infertility, let me assure you, even in your darkest hour, He is there. I know. Because I am one of the lucky ones.