Own your tears

The running joke among my family and friends is I cry at everything. I cry at commercials, I cry when I’m happy, I cry when others cry, I cry…well a lot.

If I share a story that incorporates acknowledging that I’ve cried, I often follow up with “I know, shocking, I cried”. Like I have to defend who I am. This is something I’ve been embarrassed about over the years. I always feel like I have to give a reason to why I am crying or hide my tears (like last Sunday at church). It’s like I have this notation that feeling emotions is not okay?! I can’t be alone in this, can I??

But recently, I had an incident where I cried in front of a friend who showed me a video of her brother who passed a couple of years ago. I apologized for my tears and explained that I just felt that 1) the video was so sweet and such a touching memory and 2) heartbreaking that he’s no longer here on Earth. I’ve never met her brother, but felt so touched by this video.

Do you know what she said to me?

“You must have the biggest heart?”

I walked away from the conversation thinking a lot about this. Yeah, I would describe myself as someone with a big heart. But I’ve always looked at my easily teary-eyed self as weak or as though this was something negative.  So I decided to make a decision…I’m going to own my tears.

However, fast forward to yesterday…I haven’t been owning my tears and found myself in yet another situation that I felt like I had to defend myself for tearing up so easily.

But thankfully the same individual that pointed out that I must have a big heart was part of this situation and said she something that resonated even more with me…

“You are just so empathetic to others, you feel what they are feeling…”

Then it clicked. Nothing about my easily teary-eyed self is negative, but a sign that I can relate to others, I have a big heart, and I get people (well most of the times ha!).

So this time, I really am going to start owning my tears.

And as with all things that I’m contemplating…I went to scripture.  This one stuck out the most:

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Romans 12:15 (NIV)

And just several verses ahead of the above:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 (NIV)

So it’s your turn!

Are you easily tearful? Do you cry when others are crying? Do you feel embarrassed when you cry at church, or at a commercial, or while watching a video on Facebook?

If so, start owning those tears! Because if I had to guess, it makes you an empathetic person with a huge heart, too!

And lastly, my take away from all of this…

Be who God wants YOU to be. Do not let others bring you down or make you feel guilty for who you are….and most definitely, do not let your own insecurities dictate who God wants you to be. You be YOU! The fearfully, wonderfully made YOU!

Letting Go…

Letting go can be a difficult process. Whether it be removing yourself from an unhealthy relationship, moving on to a different job, grieving a loss, or throwing away those 2 sizes too small pants that you have been holding on to ‘just in case you lose weight’, it’s not always easy.

But the thing is, most often what we are struggling to let go of, is also the very thing that is weighing us down. And letting go is exactly what we need to do.

My dear friend and spiritual mentor, Diane, has been a guiding light through some of my darkest days. Through many conversations, she always seems to give the guidance I need it and when I need it, especially about letting go.

One particular conversation, she had me imagine that I was standing outside on the porch of a beautiful home. A home that God has built specifically for me. Everything I’d ever need was in this home. But I was stuck on the porch not able to get past the front doorway. I was holding onto too many baggages. And filled in these baggages: my past mistakes, my wrong doings, my guilt and shame; the things I just wasn’t willing to let go of or forgive myself for.

As soon as she spoke those words to me, I could account for the things that filled those baggages. I knew exactly what I needed to let go. I just didn’t know how.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17

But slowly over time, I started to put those baggages down. Through prayer, meditatation, the Word, and God’s grace, I began realizing that God didn’t see me the way I saw myself. The pages of my past were wiped clean. I was renewed…I was redeemed from my past.

However, over time I have realized that I am often picking baggages back up. Some old and some new. Some times I realize my past creeps back into my life and I find myself obsessing over things that happened 5, 7, even 18 years ago. So here I am sorting through my baggages again and trying to put them back down.

And every time I pick up a baggage, I’m standing there, stuck on the front porch of the home God built for me. I can’t get to where He wants me to be!

Sometimes we are so fixated on trying to obtain things we think we want, versus allowing ourselves to follow God’s plan, but then we miss out on what He wants for us…This is exactly where I have found myself recently. And I realized, I needed to let go of something I’ve been holding onto for way too long.

The moment Samuel came into our lives, I was fulfilled as parent, but there was one piece that I continued to long for and struggled to let go of…experiencing pregnancy. So for the past year, I’ve been desperately trying to achieve that. And where did I find myself…holding onto to way to many baggages. Stuck back on the porch. Not getting where I needed to be.

Month after month of feeling like a failure. Being angry with my body. Being filled with sadness and confusion…back in the pits of infertility.

But here’s the amazing thing about God…

He works all things for our good! There’s a reason and purpose for our struggles.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28 NIV

Over the last year, I have been working with a doctor that focused on making my body healthier, not just trying to achieve pregnancy. I learned things about my body and health that I was unaware of previously.

But I also felt the pain of infertility again.

Recently, while mediating and praying about our next steps after another failed cycle of trying to build our family, a thought popped into my head.

God. Others. Yourself.

I sat with that thought for a minute, wondering where this was going until the next thought came …

This past year had nothing to do with my own baby. Now I need to help others during the struggle to build their perfect family, because I already have mine.

God. Others. Myself.

You see, over the past couple of weeks I have found myself in positions of helping others. A listening ear to a woman confused about the course of what treatment could be next or if adoption was meant for her family and just the struggle in general, an email requesting my name be given to someone looking for support, and a cheerleader to another who closed in on their first round of IVF.

God. Others. Myself.

And then it hit me. God has been preparing me over the past year. Had I not followed the lead that I needed to go see this particular doctor, I would have not focused on my body, which led to a potentially life saving surgery and healing of my body.  And several key factors to my health.

But I have also had such raw wounds reopened from being in the trenches of infertility again, that it has been a fresh reminder of how deeply painful infertility can be. Once Samuel came into my life, it was easy to put aside some of that pain. Re-experiencing the pain has helped me be more empathetic to those struggling. And it’s exactly where I needed to be.

God. Others. Myself.

This past year has been nothing more than preparation for the next steps…

So here I am back on the front porch. I have no clue what God has in store for me, but I’m ready to put down the baggage and step forward in confidence that God will take me exactly where I need to be.

most often the very thing that we are holding on to the tightest, is the thing that is weighing us down the most. (1)




When Mother’s Day hurts.

Mother’s day is quickly approaching. I’m starting to see Facebook profiles being changed with added ‘frames’, specials being ran for ‘Moms’, Mother’s Day flower stands being set up, you know all those things that occur the week leading up to Mother’s Day.

All holidays were difficult when my arms ached to be filled with a child, but Mother’s Day was one of the hardest. Logically, I knew it was about my own mother, and I wanted to celebrate her, but the hurt of my aching, empty arms were too much to bear to celebrate. In some senses, writing that out seems incredibly selfish, but the reality was: Mother’s Day was hard.

And while I’m honored to know I can now be celebrated and celebrate Mother’s Day with true joy in my heart…I’m also empathetic to what pain this holiday can bring to others.

But I also know that Mother’s Day doesn’t just affect those struggling with infertility…it’s a day that’s hard for many.

  • The son or daughter that has lost their mother
  • Those that are celebrating the first Mother’s Day without their mother
  • The parents grieving the lost of a child from stillborn
  • The mother that has experienced a miscarriage(s)
  • The husband that so desperately wants to celebrate his wife, but they are struggling to conceive
  • The birth mother that is missing her child she’s placed
  • The mother who has watched her child slip away from addiction
  • Those that don’t have a relationship with their mother
  • Those watching their mother battle cancer
  • Those that have watched their mother slip away from Alzheimer’s and they no longer recognize you
  • The mother that has lost their child

The list could go on and on I’m sure…

If you fit into any of these categories…be kind to yourself this Mother’s Day. Know you are not alone in your grieving. Know that you have my prayers.

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit

-Psalms 35:18

And dear friends, if you know a loved one who is grieving during this Mother’s Day, please show them the love they deserve.



The Adventures of Bert.

Our IVF cycle ‘officially’ failed on April 23, 2014. I had gotten the phone call from our reproductive endocrinologist (RE) around noon to personally tell me the results of my blood test (beta). Dr. Nyak had the sweetest, calming voice and in the most empathetic way possible she broke the news. Negative. But I already knew. I had tested in the morning before going to get my blood taken. I had actually been testing for days, so the phone call wasn’t the difficult part. It was the days following that were.

I decided to finish the day of work and then cried myself to sleep that night; and many, many more nights after that.

I would probably describe my behaviors similar to a zombie following our failed cycle. I walked around lifeless and lost. No direction. Just wandering through life. I felt completely drained.

A few days after our failed cycle, my husband asked for me to go on a walk with him. I reluctantly agreed. At this point, it was probably a miracle I was even getting out of bed and going to work, let alone engage in anything outside of the necessary. But we went to a trail that led to a reservoir, we just sat and talked. I cried. He cried. Next steps were discussed.

I think Tommy would have been ready to move onto adoption from that very moment, but I couldn’t even discuss the topic. There’s a lot to think about. I had to decided if I was okay with letting go of carrying a child, never experiencing pregnancy or labor, or whether I was okay with not ever having a child that wasn’t our DNA together. My heart broke into a million pieces when I knew that the one and only embryo that was created with both of our DNA’s never made it. This was a loss I had to grieve.

And so that’s what I did: I grieved.

July 25, 2014. I know this date specifically, because I had been at my brother’s for a Christmas in July party. And just as I was finishing up talking with our family friend about her adoption journey, my phone rang. I was expecting the normal “hey leaving work, be home soon” conversation with my husband. But this conversation was a bit different than the norm.

“I found a bird earlier today. I couldn’t find his nest or his mom. He’s coming home with me”

“Umm, okay?”

And so he brought home this tiny creature.

We instantly fell in love with this little guy. He was just this little ball of fluff. His eyes were barely open and he had patches without feathers all over. I was head over heels for this bird.

For the next 7 days, this little red-eyed viro, that we called Bert, was our world. We feed him, gave him a home, cared for him 24/7…we loved him.

When Bert began to stop singing or eating, we knew something wasn’t right. He passed exactly one week after he entered our lives. We were crushed.

But we then quickly realized something. During those 7 days, we were happy again. We both looked forward to our evenings, we laughed, we had joy again…it had been almost 2 years of trying to be parents and up to this point, we had lost hope, joy, and were filled with sadness.

A few days after Bert’s passing, I sent a text message to my husband:

“I think God placed Bert in our lives to show us that if we can love a creature that isn’t even the same species, we can surely love a child that’s not of our DNA. I think we need to adopt”

My husband replied “I was hoping you’d say that. I completely agree”.

It was at that point we moved forward with pursing adoption


Family is everything.

So a thing happened today. Our family grew by one. I guess I would describe it as my husband and I gaining a nephew…and my son gained a brother. Confused? Let me explain.

Our son’s birth mother gave birth to a healthy baby boy earlier today.

And in the reality of open adoption, he’s part of family just as any other member of our family. When I received the pictures from Samuel’s birth grandfather, I didn’t think my heart could be more full until I noticed his wording of the message: little brother has arrived. Instant tears. My heart was beaming.

To some that may seem confusing, weird, or odd, but to us, this is a perfect example of family. Our son’s birth mother and her family love Samuel to the deepest depths that despite not being in his daily life, they still see him as family. This is the epitome of open adoption. And it’s pretty amazing.

We are so unbelievably fortunate to have the birth family we do. God has blessed beyond measures. In the end, it’s all about showing Samuel the love he deserves. And today is just one of many examples of that love.

Redeemed: Part 1

When infertility struck our lives, I began to question a lot of things. Why was this happening? What have done to cause this to happen? I even began to question whether I was worthy of becoming a parent; or even deserving of my husband…actually if I was worthy in general.

Looking back now, I obviously see these as irrational thoughts, but at the time, this all felt very real. I never thought of myself as a bad person, actually probably the complete opposite, but my behaviors didn’t always align with the person I could be or even wanted to be. Insecurity and low self-esteem played a huge part of my past behaviors, so when I started to feel like I lost control of trying to conceive and becoming a mother, I internalized this as a punishment. It had to be, right? It’s the only thing that made sense…

I placed responsibility onto myself for our infertility for a long time. I mean it was my body that was failing us, so it had to be my fault, right? To be honest, I still struggle with being angry at my body at times. But I truly thought that because of things I’ve done in my past, I deserved my body to fail me. I was not worthy of good things happening to me.

But here’s what I learned along the way…my thought process was completely wrong! My views about myself were not the same views God had of me. And even better yet, I am redeemable, because I AM redeemed! How about that!? And guess what…SO ARE YOU!

If you are reading this and find yourself not feeling worthy like I did for all those years, I have some pretty amazing news…you’re wrong! Okay, so maybe that doesn’t sound like amazing news since I’m saying you’re wrong, but it’s true!

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I wouldn’t fully believe this until after God fulfilled my heart’s desire in becoming a parent and saw God work miracles in my life, but I had so many times along my journey that made me start to believe that maybe I was worthy of good things, which brought me closer to God.

I cried almost every single day while on my way to work during infertility. I would actually wait to put my mascara on until I got to the parking lot, because I knew it would be pointless before that. I would listen to music and just cry. Lots of pleads to God would occur on those drives to work. One particular morning I was really struggling. I think I started crying from the moment I got up. I didn’t want to be around people, and if memory serves me right, there were pregnant people all around me. I was sad, frustrated, and lonely.

I knew I needed to pull it together though. So I popped in a CD in hopes of listening to Big Daddy Weave’s “Redeemed” would brighten my spirits [If you are not familiar with this song, do yourself a favor, go listen to the words] . Well my CD player decided it didn’t want to work, it spit the CD out. I shoved the CD back in. It spits it back out. I did this at least 5 times, until I yelled at the top of my voice and pleaded to God.

Please make this stop. I don’t know what you want from me, but I can’t do this anymore. All I want to do is listen to this song and you can’t even give me that?!

So I take a deep breath and tried one more time. Again, the CD spits back out, but this time I waved my white flag and called defeat. I whispered to God “your will, but I don’t know what you want from me.” At that very moment I heard it. From the very beginning of the song, ‘Redeemed’ was on the radio. At this point the tears were still flowing, but they were for a different reason. It was the first time in my life that I truly sensed God. At that moment, I truly felt like I heard what God was saying to me. I don’t see your wrong doings, my sweet child. I see beyond your past. I see you in My image. Fearfully and wonderfully made. 

My healing from my past began that day…


Fighting sin or Fueling sin.

God gave me this idea a few weeks ago, but I had no real direction of where I thought it would go. I was driving home from work when the phrase about healthy eating, “are you fighting or feeding the disease”, came to mind. That’s when it popped into my head…am I fighting sin or fueling sin. Just like many diseases, sin can disrupt our lives and break us down.

It wasn’t until last night as I was laying on my son’s bedroom floor beside his crib listening to him cry, which I felt like he had done non-stop for the past 2 days, did I realize I had been fueling sin for the past two days.

Starting Saturday morning, Samuel had been testing beyond my patience’s limits. Hitting, yelling, and throwing were just a few of his behaviors over the past two days. All of which are fairly out of character for him. But instead of evaluating his behaviors, I instantly became overwhelmed, impatient, anxious, and agitated. Fueling sin into my life.

Let me share a verse with you : 1 John 3:4 (NIV) “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness”. Okay, so I didn’t commit murder this weekend or engage in adultery, you know those “big” sins we often think about when it comes to sinning. But let me share another verse with you: John 13: 34 (NIV) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” NO, I didn’t stop loving my son this weekend, but let me share one more verse with you : 1 Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient, love is kind…”

Not a whole lot about me this weekend was patient or kind. I may have been impatient with Samuel, but I was then unkind to others. I subconsciously probably recognized that I wouldn’t want to be unkind to Samuel, the kid was just being a toddler, so that was projected onto others. Like my poor sweet husband, who could do nothing right this weekend or the man that I shot daggers at as I passed him because he wasn’t driving fast enough for me. Like how could he not know I was running late for church, gosh. [insert massive eye rolls]. oh wait…

You see the enemy was loving every moment of my behaviors this weekend. He doesn’t want us to prosper. He uses those moments to sneak into our lives, fueling sin. Twisting my thoughts leads to negative behaviors; the enemy had a hold of me (1 Peter 5:8). I was not aligned with God’s will. And the kicker of it all…by the end of the day on Sunday, Samuel had a runny nose and felt a tad warm. He likely has started to develop the cold I just got over. A reason for his behaviors…

And here’s where I went wrong. Never once over the weekend did I reach out to God and ask for guidance. I didn’t pray for patience. I didn’t question my son’s out of the norm behaviors, I did not do one thing to fight sin. I welcomed sin. And like an unwanted house guest, sin waltzed right into my weekend leaving me feeling drained, defeated, and guilty.

But there is good news…I have grace. I have the grace of God, but I also need to show myself grace (Acts 15:11). Beating myself up for my behaviors won’t align me more with God. If anything, it will only allow more sin to enter, because in reality, beating myself up is exactly where the enemy would want me. But that doesn’t give me a free pass on my behaviors.

So I have to come up with a plan. How am I going to be better equipped to fight sin in the future? One thing I didn’t do last week that I have to believe played a factor to so easily fueling sin…I didn’t stick the Word.  I had been sick and chose sleep over getting up just an extra few minutes to read my devotions, but then was lackadaisical with taking time throughout the day to read.  I probably needed the extra sleep, but then I only skimmed my readings. I didn’t really mediate on what I was reading.

I wasn’t aware of my emotions. Nor did I implement self-care as I should, so I am often feeling drained and exhausted, which just makes me more emotional. Again, I didn’t pray as I should. And I certainly looked to the world for answers, not the Lord (Romans 12:2).

While I will not allow myself to dwell on my behaviors from this past weekend, I do have to question…had I been fighting sin, what kind of weekend would I have had?

So have you been in a situation that you later realized that you were only fueling sin instead of fighting sin? What’s your plan to fight sin in the future?

fighting sin...

Dear Infertility, Thank you.

If someone would have told me 4 or 5 years ago that I would someday be thankful for infertility, I would have likely throat punched them. Seriously. Okay, I’m not a violent person, so I wouldn’t have thrown out a TP, but I likely would have been pretty upset about such a comment. But if someone would have said that to me, they would have been right. I know that not everyone has a happy ending like we do. We didn’t experience loss the way some of my friends did, and our wait from signing on with an agency to placement was NOTHING compared to others. But it still hit me hard and I learned a lot from my experience, so in the end, I am super thankful for infertility.

Here’s my list of reasons why:

  1. You made me realize I CAN do hard things: Infertility tested all sorts of boundaries within myself. It took me places that I never wanted to be, but I came out stronger than I could have ever imagined. For every time I fell down, I got up fighting. Infertility is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I never stopped fighting.
  2. You made my relationship with my husband stronger: It was tough watching my husband be sad about something I felt was my fault, but didn’t have a lot of control over. But I know it was just as sad for him to see me so sad and he had no control over. We were in that journey together though. We prayed together, we cried together, and mostly importantly, we supported each other. In the end, we felt stronger together because of the struggle.
  3. You allowed me to meet some AMAZING women: Let me just tell you a little something about woman struggling with infertility, they’re tough cookies. Strong, confident, and fabulous women. Introducing myself to a forum of strangers to find support was the best decision I’ve ever made. These are friends that have cried with me, held me, picked me up, and supported my every step of the way. I’ve developed friendships that I will always be thankful for.
  4. You gave me prospective in life: I have always considered myself an empathetic person, but infertility gave me a new insight on life. This new insight only increased my awareness of what others could be potentially be going through. It helped me in my career as a counselor as well as how I interact with others.
  5. You strengthened my faith: I’ve always had a sense of faith, but when I was lost in the depths of infertility, I knew I had to dig deeper into my faith. My faith grew exponentially during our journey. I would have stayed lost had I not dove face first into wanting to know more about what God had to say about infertility. I began spending more time praying, which helped calm me. I also started reading the Bible more, which gave me understanding and reason. I wouldn’t have survived had I not clung onto my faith, which I continue to find just as important in my life today.
  6. You brought an extended family that I love more than I knew was possible: Having an open adoption is quite possibly the most amazing thing to have as an adoptive parent. My son is loved by so many people, which warms my heart. And as much as they love Samuel, I can say with confidence that they love My husband and I as well. This is family.

Last but not least…

7. You brought Samuel into our lives: I often think about how if our IVF cycle would have worked, we wouldn’t have moved forward with adoption, and I wouldn’t be Samuel’s momma. I just can’t even imagine! I wholeheartedly believe that Samuel was meant to be in our lives. So I’m actually thankful our IVF cycle didn’t work, because I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So while it’s easy to remember the heartache and pain infertility has caused in my life, I’m thankful I can also see all of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Kick start to National Infertility Awareness Week: Hold on, pain ends.

Today is the start of National Infertility Awareness Week. While I most certainly want to address the topic of infertility and spread awareness, a topic that is near and dear to my heart, I also want to talk about something that I struggled with a lot during our journey: hope.

Hope is kind of a funny thing while in the trenches of infertility. Every failed cycle left me feeling depressed, defeated, and hopeless. But the start of every new cycle started with regaining hope….hope that maybe this would be the cycle! The cycle that I’d get to see those two pink lines that I had been dreaming about.

After our failed IVF cycle, I realized that I had lost hope in hope. And the only way I could describe how I felt about hope was that I was angry and resentful. Every month I wanted to be hopeful, but every single cycle that was a let down, it got harder and harder to find any sort of faith in hope. So I was angry that this was happening. Angry that month after month I’d try to be hopeful to only be let down. Insert resentment.

Hope also felt like a downward spiral at times. If I allowed myself to get overly hopeful, would I only be left more heartbroken? Or if I really tried to remain hopeful that this was “the cycle”, would I only regret allowing my thoughts to go to such a hopeful place.  These thoughts and many, many more circled in my brain month after month. And while it would have been super easy to throw my hands up and say I’m done and lose all hope…I persevered and held onto hope as much as I possibly could. And I’m glad I did, because I’m here to tell you, it was worth it in the end.

It would be over two years of trying to build our family before becoming parents. And while we may have lost hope at times and felt beaten down, we held on. Even if there was only one tiny little string of hope, we held on tightly.

Adoption didn’t fix our infertility, I’m still infertile. Nor did it mask the pain we felt during our journey. But the pain of NEVER becoming a parent ended when our son was placed with us. Our story to parenthood is greater than I could have ever imagined it to be. It’s a story that has been a reminder to me that even in difficult times, if we just hold on the pain will end.

Not enough words…

Today is a special day. It’s our son’s birth mom’s birthday. Without her, we wouldn’t be parents. So it’s difficult to even find the words to describe the importance of having her in our lives, but I’m going to try…

Over the years of diving into the infertility and adoption world, I have read a lot of negative things, in particular those focusing on birth parents. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “she must have been really young, huh?”, “you did a wonderful thing by adopting”, “you’re a wonderful mom for adopting”, or the assumption that because we adopted we “rescued” or “saved” a child. The assumptions of birth parents are endless, unfortunately. But these comments have always confused me (and made me a little angry), because if truth be told…Samuel’s birth mom saved us, she did the wonderful thing in our lives.

I’ve always attempted to be empathetic to the pain that placing Samuel may have caused his birth mom. I’m not saying I’ve always been successful, but I try. If you are a parent, think about the love you have for your child(ren). Maybe you can’t even find the right words to describe that love. I’m sure it’s a love so strong, it’s unimaginable to describe. Now think about that kind of love you have for your child, but not seeing your child daily, not knowing what day-to-day routine is like, or not being able to hear their voice every single day. Heartbreaking. But I’d imagine this is how it feels as a birth parent.

I would never put words into Samuel’s birth mother’s mouth, but knowing the situation, I believe she felt placing Samuel what was best. For him. Not for herself, not for us, but for Samuel. Now that is true love. Selfless, agape love.

So to all the birth parents out there, know that your love for your children does not go unnoticed. As I honor my son’s birth mother’s birthday, I also honor all of you and your endless love for your children.