Honesty – Reposted with Permission from Dalas at Crunchy Lutheran Mommy

So many people have told me that what they love most about my blog, Crunchy Lutheran Mommy, is my honesty.  That’s why I haven’t been posting much lately… I haven’t wanted to be honest, not on the blog, not anywhere.  And now I feel like I’m in a Dr. Suess rhyme all of a sudden… sigh.  I still have lots of drafts backlogged in my files.  For nearly a month I neglected my weekly pregnancy posts.  I haven’t wanted to take a belly picture because that would mean I’d need to smile for it, and I don’t feel like I can give you an honest smile today.  Or any of the days I might have had time to put up a quick post.

Every time I see someone outside of my own home (which isn’t very often as you might imagine) I get the same reaction “You look so exhausted!”  Here I am trying so hard to put on a joyful, Christ-filled, my-cup-overfloweth countenance and every single person can see right through it.  So much for being a model pastor’s wife, right?  But that’s the truth.  Exhaustion is my truth right now.  Every tiny little activity is exhausting.  Serving my children is exhausting.  Enjoying my children is exhausting.

Every once in a while my Dad asks me “Do you feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew yet?”  That’s been his concern this whole adoption, and sometimes it still comes up.  For months I have been saying no, but the question is starting to haunt me like a bad jingle I can’t get out of my head.  And I don’t even have any cutesy music to go with it.  I’m struggling right now.  That’s the only honest thing I have to say, and I hate to say it.  I hate to say it because the last thing I want is a slew of comments or messages or phone calls from people asking me if I’m ok or asking how they can help.  Just my pride talking?  Probably.

Prayer is good, but I know we’re covered in that already, without even having to ask.  So why even post?  Why not just say, we’re going through a tough transition time and I need to take a blogging break?  Why not run away?  I certainly feel like running, but running isn’t going to help me or anyone.  What might help though, is being honest, putting my weaknesses out there for the world and letting ya’ll know I am far from perfect.

It might help other adoptive families have realistic expectations for when they get home.  Did you know that the norm is actually to experience some level of post-adoption depression?  It’s very much like post-partum blues and depression, but even more common for both adoptive moms and dads, and even more complicated because of the deep sadness that naturally accompanies the reality of adopting a hurting child.  Adoption is all about loss.  We don’t like to talk about it much, just like we don’t want to talk about how redemption is all about the cross.  But the one is a living icon of the other, and the picture is poignant.

When we baptize our babies we dress them up in these beautiful white gowns and take family pictures and have a big reception and celebrate it.  Some families remember their baptisms every year (I know we do!) and we linger on the promises and the miracles that have been given to us in our gift of baptism.  But what we don’t see with our eyes as the pastor pours clear, sparkling water over that sweet child’s head is…  the blood, the death.  Because as much as baptism is about new life it is first about death, the death of the person being baptized, the gruesome death of Jesus on the cross.  There is a saying that as Christians we do not need to fear death because we have already died.  We died the death of Christ during our baptism, which means death has no hold over us – just as it had no hold over the God of the Universe.  And there, in the loss and only through that loss comes the beauty and the promise of true, abundant life.

Adoption is also about loss.  Life for these children only comes by means of very deep loss.  Everything that was their life has to die, everything that was meant to have been theirs, that should have been theirs was taken from them.  Only through that reality, can they begin a new life.  But the child isn’t the only one who loses something, the family also experiences loss.  In the end, it will be a blessing to us all.  But right now?  Wow is it hard.  We had a lovely little family.  Two perfectly healthy, bright, beautiful children – a boy and a girl.  Sweet, sheltered, secure little ones… not a real care in the world.  And then we took a hammer to all of that.  We shattered our perfect little family and we changed it forever.

Now we’re a family of broken pieces and broken hearts.  A family where half of our children still don’t understand what it means to have a Mommy and a Daddy.  I overheard my four year old daughter telling a lady the other day that the nannies dropped Hope in her crib when she was in the orphanage.  We try to not talk about things like that in front of her, but she hears and remembers everything.  There is so much her little mind is trying to process: abuse, abandonment, neglect, pain… crushing pain.  Things I never intentionally would have introduced to my four and two year olds, but now they are living those realities second hand by watching us as we try to help their brother and sister heal.

They were away from their home for two months; that was hard for them.  Neither of them have been as secure since that trip.  We spend hours a week in therapy, hospitals, referrals and appointments.  Time I could have been reading stories or making fun crafts or teaching them how to bake.  And us?  We’re exhausted emotionally, physically and spiritually from all of it.  Suddenly we are a family with trauma, a family in need of an incredible amount of healing.  Overnight we went from having it all together to picking up the pieces.  Did we choose this?  Sort of, but not really.  Were we expecting it to be hard, even this hard?  Of course.  But just because trauma doesn’t always come without announcing itself doesn’t mean it isn’t just as traumatic when it finally walks through your front door and decides to live with you for a while.

Adoption is hard.  It is inherently loss, not just for the adoptive children, but for everyone in the child’s life.  Beautiful, lovely, miraculous things come from adoption.  But we do a disservice to adoptive families and their children when we overlook where that beauty came from. It came from ashes, ashes that are blown into a home, leaving the family to clean up the great mess that follows.  It’s not pity that I, or any adoptive parent, needs.  It’s prayer.  Understanding.  Support.  We need to know that if we don’t make that phone call or we don’t send that thank you note or if we never reach out for help it’s not because we don’t care about you.  It’s because our families have just been broken, and it’s taking all of our energy and strength to pick up all the pieces.

Sometimes we need you to reach out to us because we can’t reach out ourselves, but other times we just need space.  Sometimes we need respite, other times we just need a meal we didn’t have to cook ourselves.  Sometimes we need to sit and talk with someone who understands, and other times we just need people to stop asking how it’s going.  But most of all we need huge heaping doses of grace and mercy and love.  We need to know that the people in our lives are going to see our crazy, depressed, angry emotional roller coasters and they’re going to love us anyway.

(Just as a side note, if you are a family member or friend of an adoptive parent and you’re wondering why we aren’t asking for help, it’s probably because, especially when our children came from hard places, the kind of help we need is so specific that it would be difficult or impossible to just ask for a simple hand on something.  And if we tried to ask we would either come off as ungrateful or unreasonable or both.  Unfortunately, there are just situations where there is no real help that can be given without a logistical brainstorm involved.  Our children’s needs and our new family dynamics make simple things, like bringing in outside help, much more complicated.)

So here’s to honesty.  Here’s to dispelling the myth that adoptive families are superheroes that don’t need anyone’s help.  Here’s to coming out and saying that just because we signed up for this doesn’t mean we will always have our act together, and just because we “chose” these children doesn’t mean we can’t have a bad day, or week or month… or even year. We are just like you, and just like any family, when trauma kicks off its old, muddy shoes and decides to stay a while… we’re going to struggle.  And we are.

May the Lord, in His mercy, turn our sorrow to joy and our tears to laughter.  May He bring the dawn quickly and banish the darkness from our midst.  May He orchestrate the beauty from the ashes, and give us inclination to focus on neither, but rather to seek His face in this and in every season. Amen.

~~~~~

Dalas is a mother to four with another on the way. She is seriously passionate about motherhood, adoption, being “crunchy” (a fancy way of describing how she keeps her family healthy) and her Lutheran faith. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and on her blog, Crunchy Lutheran Mommy. You can read her original Honesty post here.

Dalas

Advertisements

National Adoption Month Series: Donna’s Story

Parenthood is an amazing adventure. It is a road riddled with twists and turns and unexpected bumps. It’s also a journey filled with wonder, grace, and joy.

Pat and I never intended to have six children. When we were first married and talked about how many children we would have, I wanted four. Pat wanted two. In the end, we did both. Our first three sons arrived the conventional way. Our next three children arrived through the miracle of adoption.

My older boys were in their early teens when Pat and I became foster parents. One beautiful June evening, we were asked to open our home to a three year old girl and a seven month old boy, both of whom had the chicken pox. A few hours later, Patty arrived clutching a much-loved doll. She had big, brown eyes and a fearful, but beautiful smile. Anthony came into my arms and snuggled into my heart. A few years later, a judge made official the adoption that took place in our hearts that night. We had four sons and one daughter.

Shortly after Patty and Anthony’s adoption, we learned that their birth mother was expecting another child. We agreed to accept this child also. While my boys wondered who would have to share their room and Patty and I wondered if this baby would be another boy or if Patty would have to share her princess status, my husband wondered if we were nuts. When we received the phone call that a baby boy had arrived; I laughed and said, “We needed another one of those.”  We picked Connor up from the hospital when he was just three days old. 

Adoptive parents never really know for sure exactly what we are getting into, but birth parents don’t either. There are days in the lives of every parent when you want to tear your hair out and cry, “This is not what I signed up for!” I have been picking up Legos for 29 years. I have finally graduated out of car seats. I have slept in hospital beds with my arms wrapped around a sick child. I’ve worried when they’ve come home late. I’ve attended hundreds of parent-teacher conferences and countless holiday performances. I’ve lent my son an earring. I’ve overseen enough homework assignments to fill a library. I’ve had pool water spit in my face and baby spit-up on my shoulders. I’ve been blessed with tadpoles and dandelions crushed in a chubby fist. At one point we had one son in the Navy, two sons in college, and our baby in day care. I can bore you to tears telling you about my kids’ accomplishments. I am fiercely protective of them and want only the best for them.

We do not know a lot about our children’s birth mother, but this one thing I do know, she loved her children. She loved her children enough to give them life and we are so grateful she did. Our children, all of them, have enriched our lives far beyond what anyone could have told us.

~~~~~

Donna is a wife of 34 years to Pat and blessed with quite a lot – 5 sons, 1 daughter, a daughter-in-law, a dog and a cat, a house, a bunch of furniture, and a garage filled with everything but a car. You can follow her on the blog, HoliMess, where she shares about noticing God in the midst of our daily life through crafts, recipes, devotions, comforting words, and encouragement.

Donna

National Adoption Month Series: BraveLove – Telling the Story of Birth Mothers

The idea of BraveLove began in 2012, with a small group of people working with a local pregnancy resource center in Dallas, Texas. They witnessed their clients weren’t even considering adoption as an option when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. This observation was consistent with the National Council for Adoption’s Fact Book, which says only 2% of women faced with an unplanned pregnancy choose adoption. So often the brave act of placing a baby for adoption is viewed in a negative light, when in reality it is a selfless, difficult, and loving act a mother can make for her child. The story of the birth mother needs to be told.

As an adoptive mother, I have two adopted children and two biological children. My husband and I are immeasurably grateful to the women who carried our babies, and delivered them into this world, so I have a huge heart for these brave women who place their children for adoption. I started BraveLove to change the way our culture thinks about adoption and the women who choose to place.

Our mission is to change the perception of adoption through honest, informative, and hopeful communication that conveys the heroism and bravery a birth mother displays when she places her child with a loving family through adoption.

The heartbreaking truth is that many women facing unplanned pregnancy feel unable to care for a child. Sometimes the single-most loving thing a mother can do is place her child with a caring, eager adoptive family. We aim to invite and empower women to choose adoption.

If I could convey one message to birth parents it would be that you are loved, respected, and honored.  We recognize what you did as a great act of love for your child, and we want others to see you as the brave loving person you really are.  You gave your child what you yourself could not give.  There is no greater act of selflessness.

In the same regard, if I could convey one message to adoptive parents it would be that your child can only benefit from knowing how loved they are by all the parents (adoptive and birth) in the equation.  Every child in an adoptive situation, domestic or international, has a birth mother and birth father somewhere out there. The existence of these individuals needs to weigh upon adoptive parents as they seek to rear their children. It makes me sad that we may never know the birth parents of our adopted children. We may never be able to thank them or show them the incredible fruit of their sacrifice. As much as we are the mommies and daddies to our children, there are two other very important people out there that need to be honored, talked about, and recognized for the role they played in the child’s existence in your family.

BraveLove is so much more than I ever thought it would be!  At the very beginning, we were not quite sure who BraveLove should be targeting.  Everybody is an influencer. Everybody plays a role in a birth mother’s choice to place for adoption. Our perceptions affect the decisions others make. We want BraveLove’s message to touch everybody in a birth parent’s sphere of influence — grandparents, teachers, pastors, friends and family, so that when birth parents decide to place for adoption, they have a network of support that can walk with them through this hard decision.  This is not just a movement for birth mothers – it’s for everybody. As we began researching and asking questions, it became loud and clear that the birth parent story was one that needed to be told. It is our honor to provide a platform of support and encouragement to these unsung heroes of adoption.

~~~~~

Ellen Porter, the Founder of BraveLove, lives in Dallas, TX with her family and works with a dynamic team to run the organization. For more information about them and to read some amazing stories, letters and interviews with real birth moms, please visit them at www.bravelove.com and connect with them on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

bravelove

National Adoption Month Series – A Gift of Hope Adoptions

Happy Adoption Month! My name is Elizabeth and I’m so honored to be sharing about adoption on M2M; it has been a passion of mine since I was a kid. I had always planned to work in adoption in some capacity, but when I was doing my internships at adoption agencies in graduate school, I got very disenchanted with the process. The agencies were so careful to remain neutral about adoption that they ended up promoting parenting over adoption most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I know adoption is not the right choice for every person experiencing a crisis pregnancy or even a crisis in their lives that requires them to evaluate options for their children, but I firmly believe that it is the right choice for some. In any case, people deserve to know that it is an option, and what adoption is really like in the 21st century.

After grad school my job options were limited given the economy, so I got together with my dad, Dewey Crepeau, and Tina Tyra, an adoption facilitator in California. We decided that an agency could provide more services than our separate areas of expertise and combined forces. Out of that meeting A Gift of Hope Adoptions was born, and we have been going strong for nearly ten years! We have been able to provide the social services necessary to a good adoption experience for both birth parents and adoptive parents. With Dewey’s invaluable legal expertise ensuring that adoptions are always done the right way and Tina’s experience in matching and making sure prospective birth parents have choices in the adoptive family they select, I believe our agency has the keys to healthy adoptions.

AGOHA_logo_new_R_web

I think as parents, particularly as mothers, we know that our primary focus has to be on our children. We are constantly evaluating their personality, interests, and learning styles in decisions about school, diet, social activities, and extra-curricular activities. Sometimes we grieve that we can’t give them more, and sometimes make hard sacrifices to do so. We celebrate with our child as they succeed and we help them learn from their failures. Often, we are blamed for everything but still bring out the lioness inside when our children need protection. We are mothers, it’s what we do.

I take that approach with adoption, as well. Even though we work with all members of the adoption triad (birth parents, adoptive parents, and children) our focus has to be on the child’s best interests. The child is not paying for the services, and the child is not making the decisions, but the child is still our primary client. When you are considering adoption – whether as a birth parent or an adoptive parent – I encourage you to attempt to put yourself in your child’s position, and evaluate best interests from there. That may lead to some tough introspection, and even tougher choices. You may find that your child’s best interests make your choices clearer or cloudier. Every child needs a mother, though, and they deserve our best. In adoption a child has more than one mother, and that is actually a very good thing. As I often say to our clients, particularly those who are afraid of contact between birth and adoptive families (which is actually now very common and very healthy in adoption), you can never have too many people who love your child.

If you would like more information on adoption services through A Gift of Hope Adoptions feel free to contact us through our website or call 573-356-0025 or toll-free 1-888-564-HOPE. We work nationwide! You can also follow us on social media: Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

~~~~~

Elizabeth Ehlen graduated from Hillsdale College in 2002 with a dual degree in History and Sociology & Social Thought, with special departmental honors in Sociology. She attended Washington University in St. Louis to pursue her Master’s in Social Work and graduated from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work in 2004 with a MSW, concentrating in Children, Youth and Family. In 2005, Elizabeth cofounded A Gift of Hope Adoptions in Missouri with the help of Dewey Crepeau, and Tina Tyra.

In addition to her adoption work, she has also written an ebook designed as an introduction to adoption for adoptive parents, Adoption Options: For Prospective Adoptive Parents. She is married to her college sweetheart, Matt Ehlen and they have two sons, David and Daniel, and one daughter, Rachelle. Elizabeth loves being a mommy, and works primarily from her home office in order to take care of her babies as well as her children through A Gift of Hope Adoptions.

giftofhope

Stress Buster Tips for Single Moms – Guest Post by Holly from Bonza Brats

Feeling the stress of being a single mom lately? Don’t succumb to it! You can fight it. You are unbeatable. You can whip up a magical dish with your amazing culinary skills. You can make the chaos inside the house disappear in matter of minutes. With just one kiss, you can even make your little girl or boy stop crying. But if you were to be honest with yourself, will you still be able to do all of these things if you were stressed out?

Stress Busting

If you have a partner inside the house, you have someone who can take over the activities of the kids when you are feeling under the weather. As a single mom, you need to be the dad at the same time, too, which basically means that the pressure put on you is twice more than that of a parent with a partner. With this come higher levels of stress for single parents.

So what should you do to keep your stress levels in check? Here are some tips that could let you keep a cool head and feel relaxed while working and being a single mom at the same time.

stressbuster1

  1. Ask for help
    Your ex does not want to be a part of your son’s life and you are worried about your kid not having a father figure? Ask your own father or brother to fill in that role. Too tired to do the chores since you have been working the whole day? Then the teenager next door may be in need of a part-time job and could clean the house for you in exchange for a few dollars. You need not carry the burden by yourself. Share your responsibilities with the people around you.
  2. Work on your routines
    Make it a point to follow a routine; this way your child will know what is expected of him. If you wake up at six in the morning so that he will be able to catch the bus in time, then adhere to this on a daily basis. Do this for his meal time, bedtime, and other activities for the day as well.
  3. Learn a bit of finance
    One of the main challenges of being a parent, especially the ones who are earning below to average salaries, is making ends meet. If you are living from paycheck to paycheck, you need to reflect now on where your money is going. Use a calculator or an excel sheet and write down your needs. Take off the ones that are not considered “urgent” until you get your finances together.
  4. Get some sleep
    Your mind and body need rest and sleep for at least eight hours a day. Lack of sleep will not only make you cranky; it will also make you lose your focus at work or possibly snap at your kid even when he is just being noisy.
  5. Have some “me” time.
    Although you love your child very much, you also need to take care of yourself, too. You can’t expect to be an effective mother if you do not feel happy. Aside from your kid, what are the things that make you feel joyful? Visit the salon and get your nails painted. Go out and have dinner with your girlfriends. Or if you have some extra cash, go try on some clothes at the mall and get something new as a gift to yourself.
  6. Eat healthier
    The stress from single-parenting affects not only the way you feel, but your body suffers from it as well. You can correct this problem by observing a healthy diet. To prevent heart conditions, eat foods that are healthy in Omega-3 fatty acids such as tuna and salmon. Green leafy vegetables like spinach will help regulate cortisol levels in your body, and antioxidants, vitamins and other essential nutrients are needed to help fight stress.
  7. Work out
    Exercise will not only help you lose weight and build muscles, but different studies show that they can also help you beat stress. This is tied to the increased production of endorphins (happy hormones) when you exercise. So instead of just lying down on the bed or couch on the weekends, put on your running shoes and jog around the neighborhood, attend a dance class or head to the gym and work with a trainer.
  8. Do not ditch discipline
    Unruly kids are a product of a household that does not follow any set of rules. By imposing some rules that they ought to follow, children know that breaking these will have corresponding consequences. Disciplining your kids is teaching them early-on to be responsible for their own actions. And this could take off a lot of stress from you, too, since you won’t find the need to scold as frequently.
  9. Laugh often
    You may have heard some people claim that “laughter is the best medicine.” In the past, this may have sounded like a promotional script for a certain comedy show to get their ratings up. However, some studies are now saying that it may have some truth to it. According to experts, depression, loneliness, and being pessimistic can impair the immune system, and you could feel a mix of these emotions when stressed out. All of these can be easily countered with positive feelings. So make it a habit to watch a comedy show and play silly games with your kids so that you can smile and laugh more often.
  10. Ditch the guilt
    Thoughts like, “You are not doing enough” or “You could have done better.” Or reminders that there are so many things that you may have missed to do and some things that you can’t possibly do due to limitations that you wished were not there. Want to know how other parents make it look easy? They forgive themselves for the things they cannot do and revel on the things that they can. Do the same and stop feeling guilty since no one could really be the perfect mom after all.

 stressbuster2

You can beat stress, guard your health, mind, and emotional well-being through time-management, discipline, sharing responsibilities with other people, eating healthy foods, and working together with your kids. And, remember, you need to be in great shape if you want your kid to see a single mom that is capable of raising them.

~~~~~

Holly Easterby is a freelance writer that shares tips for parents and families. Her love for children has seen her featured in many education and children websites, whether helping parents with problems or talking about healthy snacks, motivating students or discussing children’s fashion at Bonza Brats. Holly loves reading books, and shopping is her way of spending time with her young family. You can catch her via Google+ or on Twitter @HollyEasterby

 holly

The Love Rock Story – Reposted with Permission from Susan of Love Drenched Life

I have had a beautiful life filled with lots of laughter, smiles, and lots of love, beautiful children, a wonderful, dedicated and loving husband, solid friendships and a community that loves and supports their neighbors unconditionally. But sometimes life brings circumstances that are completely out of your control. In those times, it’s important to remember the beauty in life, love​,​ and knowing​ that God can​ — and will​ — bring a peace that surpasses all understanding​. Love Rocks was inspired by two girls who lived with immense love and joy. In their honor, we have chosen to s​hare that love and joy with anyone willing to receive it. Thank you for​celebrating with us!

On Oct. 20, 2013, the unthinkable happened to my family. My daughters, Anna (6) and Abigail (11) were hit by a car in front of our house. Both girls went to Heaven that night without warning. Since then, my husband Tom and I have had to navigate grief that we wouldn’t wish upon anyone. Our house is now empty – no laughter, no dance parties, no morning cuddles, no fighting about homework or bonding over our favorite meal. Empty.

We decided shortly after the girls went to Heaven that we were not going to allow the tragedy of one night to define our girls’ lives here on earth and the life they were now living in Heaven. Their legacy would not be this tragedy but rather the love and joy that they poured out to everyone who knew them and hopefully everyone who would hear their story.

We did not have choice on whether they went to Heaven on October 20th. We do, however, have a choice on how we live our lives honoring our Creator and honoring the lives of our sweet girls. And so, we choose love and joy!

Anna’s and Abigail’s lives were full of so much love and so much joy. They had a way of lighting up a room with their presence and putting smiles on the faces of those they came in contact with. They loved each other dearly and they were definitely sisters – maybe not by blood, but by the way they knew exactly how to push each other’s buttons. Anna adored her sister and wanted to be around her all the time. Abigail loved her little sister and was annoyed by the fact that Anna wanted to be around her all the time. True sisters!

Anna loved horses, Abigail loved theater. Both girls loved to dance, climb, be with their friends and loved family time. They would prefer a game as a family over a movie any night – LIFE, UNO and Jungle Speed being their all-time favorites. They were beautiful beyond words, both on the outside and more importantly on the inside. They had giving hearts and loved to find ways in which they could help those in need. They were insightful, kind, nurturing and loving to all who had the honor of being in their presence, especially their friends.

In April of 2014, 6 months after the girls went to Heaven, Tom and I felt nudged to share a project that we as a family did for our wedding in June of 2011. The girls, Tom’s mom and I spent time cutting out fabric hearts from our favorite fabrics and then Mod Podging them to river rocks. We made one for each of our guests to take home and another one that would be written on by our guests for us to keep. These little rocks have held a lot of meaning in our house since our wedding day and are placed in various rooms so that we can enjoy them no matter where we are.

That little nudge to share took on a life of its own. On April 20th, I launched the Facebook Page, Love Rocks. I shared a bit of our story and our hope for spreading love and joy through these simple rocks and included a tutorial for how to make them. Before pushing the publish button, I had to come to terms with the fact that nothing may happen with this little idea of ours. I took a deep breath, said a prayer, and sent our idea out into the world.

What has happened over the past 5 months has been miraculous. Love Rocks have been shared in our little town, our state of Oregon and in every other state in the U.S. Love Rocks have been shared in Africa, Asia, South America, Europe and Australia. I’m still waiting for a picture to be posted in Antarctica.

There are photos of Love Rocks in parks, on beaches, on The Great Wall of China, in front of the Eiffel Tower, on doorsteps, in hospitals, at weddings and at funerals, in a secured NASA facility and at Anna’s and Abigail’s tree.

There have been so many stories of how these little rocks with fabric hearts have found their rightful owner just when they needed it most. They have warmed hearts and brought so much Love and Joy to this world — so much more than we could have ever imagined when we felt nudged to share.

The inspiration for Love Rocks comes from Anna, Abigail, and our loving community that supported us and continues to care for us. The outpouring of love and the immense joy that is felt throughout the world is their legacy – one filled with hope, light and laughter.

My girls’ lives were and are beautiful. They have taught so many how to live a love story and I am very proud to be their mom.

~~~~~

Susan lives in Forest Grove, Oregon. She is a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister and friend. She loves God with all of her heart. You can read more about Susan and the Love Rocks movement she founded at www.love-drenched-life.com or on www.facebook.com/lovedrenched.

 

love-rocks

Living Intentionally Instead of Longing for the Past: A Little M2M Guest Post Action

If there is a crossroads between young and old, I think I have arrived there. At 34, I feel like I have one foot in my youth and one foot over the threshold of being old. Now, before you laugh and dismiss me on this, take a moment to ponder it for yourself. If you are older than me, think back to a time where you felt like you could still very clearly remember the angst of your teenage years, the rebelliousness of being a young adult, the bliss of your newlywed years, and the tenderness of carrying, birthing and cradling your first newborn. Then, as the years went on and you matured and watched your babies grow, those memories of youth began to fade and the wisdom of adulthood took its place. Life, once simple, became more complicated and although its simplicity is still reflected in the eyes and chattering of your children, it has nearly become lost on you….

Continue reading over at What Joy is Mine, where I have the incredible honor of guest posting this week. Enjoy!

living-intentionally

Like what you see here on M2M? Want to add your voice? Share your own story of motherhood? I would love to feature you! Please contact me and I will be happy to send you the specs for content. I hope to hear from you soon!

To the Mother of All Boys – Guest Post by Cheryl at Since I Became a Mom

I am a mother of three boys and I have always heard comments like:

Are you going to try for your girl?

Three boys…whoa…you must be tired.

Or that awful saying that goes something like this:

A son is a son until he takes him a wife.  A daughter is your daughter for the rest of your life.

For the most part, these statements don’t bother me – well, maybe except for the last one…who wants to ever think their child will go off and never return? What a terrible thought, but the statements aren’t exactly encouraging or uplifting, either.

Recently though, I heard a comment about my boys that I continually turned around in my head until it seeped into my heart and made me feel like I could not possibly be blessed more than by being a mother of three sons. We were visiting my grandmother in her senior living center and one of the ninety-something year-old ladies came up to me and said, “You have such beautiful boys.”  Then she hesitated, as if trying to decide if she should say more before finally adding, “I have three sons too and I love it. They take such good care of me.”

She said it with such joy and pride and went on to tell me how they treated her so well.  She ended our conversation by firmly stating, “They take better care of me than any daughter ever could. I am so happy I have three sons.”

Her words were lovely and I felt uplifted.

If I think about it, I can see my boys also being amazing to me if someday I found myself in her shoes. They already have all kinds of super hero powers and are continually fighting off the villains that daily enter our home.  I know they will always be my protectors.

I am their favorite girl and they tell me so each and every day.  How lovely will it be to always have three handsome men visiting me no matter how old I am? That’s got to be good for the ego.

With them around, do I really ever need to open a door for myself?  I will always be treated like royalty.

You should see some of the stuff they come up with when building Legos or how they strategically place their Spy Gear around the house so they know exactly what is going on. To me, these are signs of brilliant, future adult minds, all capable of taking care of their mom.

As the lady at the retirement home walked away, I called to her, “Thank you for saying that to me.” She turned back around and our eyes met.  We exchanged a knowing look that only two mother of all boys would understand, connecting us across two generational gaps.

Mother of all boys.  Yes, I do believe I hit the jackpot.

~~~~~

Cheryl blogs at www.sinceibecameamom.blogspot.com.  She and her husband have three wonderful boys ages 8, 7 and 4. She loves blogging, photography and finding joy in everyday life.

cherylfamforweb

Surviving a Stillbirth at 36 weeks – Guest Post by Taylor Arthur at Red Vine Spirituality

My husband, Jack was traveling the day my sister-in-law, Semmelle, and I excitedly walked into my OB’s office for my 36 week appointment. She had never been to an ultra sound before, and I was so excited to show her a sneak peak of her new nephew. I met her at my mother’s that afternoon, where relatives were still visiting after throwing me a beautiful baby shower the weekend before. My cousins and I had stayed up until late the previous night, unpacking gifts, laundering tiny clothes, and decorating the nursery while we ate chocolate cake and giggled like little girls. Caleb was the first grandchild for both Jack’s and my families. After years of fighting an extreme case of bipolar disorder and wondering if I would ever be well enough to bear my own children, we felt the world was celebrating with us as we prepared to welcome our victory child.

At first, they couldn’t find the heartbeat in the exam room. I became furious with the nurse, assuming she was inept. They brought in another nurse, and she, too, could not find the heartbeat. My OBGYN was called in. We were rushed to the ultrasound room as my OBGYN shouted orders to her receptionist to call her nanny and tell her she’d be late. I didn’t realize that anything could be that wrong until I heard the ultrasound tech gasp.
“What?!” I screamed.
“THERE’S NO HEARTBEAT.”

As I write this, years later, I still cry. I remember begging them to do an emergency c-section, kicking and screaming like a three year-old and my sister’s face covered in agony. I remember leaving with my dead baby still inside me, Semmelle driving me back to my parents’ home. I remember calling my husband’s family, knowing that Jack was somewhere in an airplane, still believing that our baby would be born and live, and knowing that I would have to be the one to tell him we were living a horror I had never even thought to imagine.

Shock makes some people crazy. Shock makes me sane, and I am able to see what is necessary and what is not. I am able to function and choose. I am able to get on the phone with my husband, while he is sitting on the airplane, and tell him his first son will be born dead. I am able to do that because he needs to stay on that plane and come home to me. I laid in my parents’ bed and waited as well-meaning, shocked relatives came in one at a time to tell me they loved me and rub my belly as they had done so many times throughout my pregnancy. I laid in bed and prayed the Our Father and the Hail Mary over and over, because they were the only prayers that I could muster. I asked my mother if she thought I was unlucky. If I was cursed. I prayed Jack home to me, praying that he, too, would not be taken from me.

Jack’s father greeted him at the airport and drove him to my parents’ home. He burst up the stairs to hold me in his arms, and we didn’t care who watched. We wept. We wretched. We held each other all night, knowing that would be the last night we spent alone with Caleb, the child we already loved so much. We gathered up every ounce of courage we had, and we made our way to the hospital. We had just toured the birthing center in our labor and delivery class, so we knew right where to go. Our bag had already been packed, just in case Caleb had decided to come early.

For me, before having children, labor and delivery seemed like a black hole that I would enter, having no idea how I would make my way out the other side. I was afraid of the pain, afraid of the risks involved, afraid that I might die. I had never considered that my child who had been checked and rechecked thoroughly throughout my pregnancy and was certified healthy, could die. And I never dreamed what it could be like to face all of the fears of my first childbirth, knowing that I would have to endure it all only to leave the hospital without my child.

It was a day. An entire, 24-hour-long day. I was heavily drugged, as I had requested, with an epidural that left me entirely numb and very groggy. I spent the day with loved ones hovering over me when I opened my eyes, and kneeling next to Mary at the foot of Jesus’ cross every time I closed my eyes. In both realities, I was in extreme pain, but with my eyes closed I was in the company of Jesus’ Mother. As He suffered, she suffered, and they both held me in my suffering. That day, as I lay in that hospital bed, I felt the most intense love being poured out upon me, into me by pure mother love. In her suffering, she begat love for me, born of physical and spiritual travail. It entered my laboring heart and flooded my chest cavity. This love rested upon me for weeks, as I bore the physical pains of just giving birth without the joy of my baby to help me forget them.

Caleb Joshua was born at 6:27 pm on Wednesday, March 19th, in the middle of Holy Week. Time stretched in front of me like never before. There would be too many tomorrows without him, so now was the only time to not fall asleep with exhaustion or miss one small dimple. Now was the time to make up for a lifetime of loves and hugs, kisses, baths, and songs. Those few hours would be the only ones I would ever spend with my son’s physical form, and I knew that it would most likely be a very long time until we would again be face to face.

He was baptized by our beloved Father Ed and Deacon Bill. I bathed him, undaunted by his already decomposing form, and dressed him in his going home outfit. We took many pictures, but not enough. We held him, our parents held him, and we held him again. Time stood for me. And then, I looked at Caleb’s eyes and they were crying blood. We knew it was time and I handed him to the nurse.

They wheeled me out that night only because I refused to stay the night in a hospital without my baby. I howled from my room to the car, where Jack laid in the back seat next to me until I passed out from exhaustion. I woke up early the next morning in the guest bedroom at my parents’ house. I woke up without Caleb and started to wretch again. My sobs woke Jack up, and the two of us laid in bed and cried ourselves back to sleep.

We did everything we could for our son in the days following his silent birth. I went to the funeral home and picked out his casket, his burial plot. I went to the children’s boutique and bought him his final outfit. When the sales lady asked if it was a going home outfit, I doubled over in sobs. My mother then went ahead of me into every store we entered and told them what was going on and to please leave me alone. I bought myself a hot pink dress to wear to his funeral, and his father a bright orange tie. It was Easter week and we refused to wear black.

The Tuesday after Easter, surrounded by loved ones all dressed in their best Easter clothes, we laid Caleb to rest. Our siblings, his aunts and uncles, carried his casket down the middle aisle of our church while Jack and I walked hand-in-hand behind them. We celebrated his life, as well as the unending life he was already living in heaven.

We have spent the time since Caleb’s death trying to move on. We have had two more beautiful sons and live as joyfully as we are able. But the love for our firstborn son never fades, and my yearning for him has created a deep hole in my heart that is only satiated by my relationship with Jesus. Certainly, the shock and the intense pain have subsided. What is left is an ache, deep and unyielding, gnawing in the background of a beautiful life. I still hang his stocking at Christmas, and his birth certificate will forever be displayed in our hallway upstairs with the tiny prints of his perfect feet. We celebrate his birthday every year by going on a “Caleb adventure,” with his brothers. We look forward to heaven more than ever before, but know our little Lebanite Warrior is in Good Hands, exploring the Promised Land, until we meet again.

~~~~~

Taylor is from Seattle, Washington and mother to Caleb (stillborn 2008), Abraham (5), and Samuel (2), and happily married to her husband, Jack, of 14 years. She tackles mental illness, surviving stillbirth, and caring for her heart warrior, Samuel, in her weekly blogs at www.redvinespirituality.com.

taylor

A Little M2M Guest Post Action AND A Motherhood Monday LinkUp

Other than motherhood in general, my all-time favorite cause is for birthmothers. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like and I am passionate about championing birth moms all over the world as often and shamelessly as I can! As such, I have the joy and pleasure to network with, speak at and write for a lot of really great birth mother and adoption organizations. Some of my favorites are BraveLove, Called to Love and most recently, America Adopts. I love to take whatever opportunity I can to encourage, support and defend the cause of birth moms as all parties in the adoption triad move toward emotional and spiritual healing and closure. If you are interested in speaking with me further about adoption and birth mothers, please feel free to contact me at wynterkaiser@gmail.com!

Just last week I had the opportunity to do a guest blog post for America Adopts and I chose to speak on the misconceptions of birth mothers in our culture. Here is what I wrote:

As a birth mom I have my own story and it is unique. I think that sometimes it is easy to romanticize the ideal adoption scenario; a young girl gets pregnant and loves the baby so much that she decides to give it a better home and life than she can offer. But there is much more to my story than that typical, idealized notion. And, frankly, I think if all birth moms were really being honest with you, they would say the same thing.

I grew up in a stiflingly Christian home, church and private school. As a child and teenager I talked the talk, but deep down inside, I desired to break free and live how the rest of the world lived. So, as soon as I turned eighteen, I rebelled; and thinking I was invincible, I got involved in drinking, drugs and fooling around with boys. Eventually, my poor choices caught up with me. I was suspended from school after my freshman year in college and became pregnant shortly thereafter….

{Click here to continue reading over at America Adopts!}

~~~~~

And now for the Link Up! Please also visit M2M on Twitter @made2mother and like on Facebook.com/madetomother!

Made to Mother
<div align="center"><a href="http://madetomother.com" title="Made to Mother"><img src="https://madetomother.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/mmlinkupbutton.jpg" alt="Made to Mother" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Grab the Link Up button!

The Made to Mother Project is dedicated to encouraging, supporting and inspiring women by sharing their stories of motherhood. I hope that this link-up will continue to grow our community of mothers. Please read the guidelines below for information on how to join!

Link Up Guidelines

  • Please post family-friendly topics/websites. Bonus points if they have to do with mothering!
  • Be sure to link back to your blog post not your homepage.
  • Share the Linky love – visit a page or two linked up here and leave them a nice comment.
  • Oh, and a link back to Made to Mother using the button above or a sweet shout-out would be awesome, too!