Friday, December 30, 2016

Good Riddance 2016

This blog has always been about transparency. About being a place where I can be real with the world and other ladies and moms can come and know that they are not alone. So, in my spirit of keeping it real I’m gonna tell ya, this year has SUCKED! And I know it’s not just me because I see the suffering in my friends and family on social media. As I close out this hellish year I can honestly say that I’ve been able to stop, take a deep breath, and see the baby steps I’ve taken.
If you happen to have seen me outside of the land of cyberspace, it’s likely I did not look like this, though let me tell you I tried really hard to paint on my makeup and a smile and nod and tell everyone I’m fine.

Instead, I probably looked more like my spirit animal the raccoon. Dark circles under my eyes, burning the midnight oil working on my MSW, and surviving off of coffee. Lots of coffee. I thought I was just putting in too many hours at night and my RA was flaring causing me to be a slug. Like, seriously I was too tired to function many afternoons when the coffee wore off. I finally decided to go to the doctor after getting one of those handy dandy activity trackers with the heart rate monitor and mine kept consistently showing a whopping heart rate of 45 (hey that was with caffeine folks). It turns out I not only have significant iron deficiency anemia but my hypothyroidism was back (no wonder I can’t get these prednisone pounds off). I struggled to balance my daily life while feeling like I was carrying around a ton of bricks.

Then there was the death of my grandmother. This beautiful soul who molded who I was in so many ways. She never had a bad word to say about anyone. She loved Jesus and her family. And despite having advanced Dementia she never lost her beautiful smile and sense of humor. Her absence left a hole no one could fill. I find comfort in knowing she’s in Heaven with Jesus and my Grandpa probably baking up a storm.

I was however, extremely blessed to be able to change jobs. I took a step of faith at the beginning of the year and made a transition into community based mental health. I’ll tell you it was more of a blessing than I could have ever known. Besides feeling about 20 years younger not having to deal with the stressors I was dealing with, I am fortunate enough to work with an amazingly caring crew of people and have the flexibility to work from home when it’s needed. Only God knew what he was going to ask me to walk through when I changed jobs. Doing this allowed me to spend precious time at the nursing home with my grandma, working from my laptop in the afternoons. I was able to hold her hand and be there for her final moments. That is something I will be eternally grateful for. I can also say, with my breath held, that I might be in remission with my RA for the first time in forever. I truly believe it’s because I have the flexibility to balance work and life better and take breaks when I need it.

And finally, there’s this crazy world of my family. My wild and crazy crew at home. We’ve been able to do a lot of healing with our daughter and the littles. But those of with kids from hard places know that when you take one step forward it’s often with two steps back. There were days I didn’t think we could bare one more melt down. I could not hear “I hate you” or “I wish you would die” one more time without my heart breaking in two and simultaneously going into a rage of my own. I spent many nights without sleep just praying for a miracle. Praying this madness would stop. I’d hold my breath and walk on egg shells hoping I didn’t say the wrong thing to set her off.  I’m happy to report we’ve had a first. This is the first year our daughter hasn’t had to be hospitalized following the holidays. It was a relatively peaceful Thanksgiving and Christmas. I could see her smile more. I could see her relaxed with a sense of belonging. A feeling she wasn’t going to be abandoned. She knew she was loved. I know this doesn’t mean everything is peachy, but I’m so thankful for that little nugget of peace. 

So goodbye negativity. Goodbye pain, and suffering, and grief.  Welcome 2017 with your breath of fresh air.  I’m ready for continued healing in this body and spirit of mine. I’m ready to breathe. Eric and I have a vacation to England and Ireland planned for the summer along with some staycations with the kids.  I’m ready to just live. What about you? What are you saying goodbye to in 2016? What are you looking forward to in the New Year? 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Stop the Glorification of Busy

I'm a professional problem solver, well actually a social worker, but it's all the same. Day in and day out I help people manage their lives. So imagine my surprise when I returned this week from several days off only to realize that I haven't been managing mine very well. I spent last week in Atlanta for school and the weekend prior at a retreat for adoptive moms. I returned so well rested and ready for life. Today I found myself exhausted and going through the motions and I asked myself why I'm so tired. Then I took a look at my schedule. When life got hard, I got busier. Oh it wasn't intentional, but I thought the more I filled my life with satisfying places and tasks the happier I'd be. But guess what? It didn't work out like that. Marriage? Hard. Raising a child with complex trauma, HARD. Being a parent in general, hard. Adjusting to living life with an incurable disease, extremely HARD. With each hard thing I'd get more "involved." Work two jobs. Go to grad school. Volunteer for multiple organizations. Help coach little league. No wonder my coffee can't sustain me anymore. I'm exhausted ya'll.

It's a vicious cycle though. When you have chronic illness and you increase your stress, whether it's good stress or bad stress, you become more inflamed. The more I took on the more inflamed I'd get and the more steroids I'd need to function at the level I was before. I decided earlier this week that I'd start to wean myself from the roids and start to be more gentle to my arthritic self. But today I also decided I was going to be more kind to my family and my soul and take life a little bit slower. So I dropped down to one class this quarter. Gave notice to some of the organizations I volunteer with that I'm going to take a hiatus. Opened up my schedule for more family time, and more self care.

Self care. That's a word many mommies wince at. We get so busy caring for our children and everyone around us that we forget that we can't pour from an empty cup. I was raised by an overbearing mother who even today laughs at the idea of self care and calls it selfish and inconsiderate. But let me tell you, it's not. So I'm borrowing from a list over at and sharing some ideas for self care. You can view the full blog here:

Inner Self-Care
Make a date with yourself. Spend an hour alone doing something that nourishes you, not work or things on your to-do list (reading, your hobby, walking around the neighborhood, visiting a museum or gallery, etc.)
Read books and watch movies you enjoy
Paint or write something that lets out your creative energy
Take a quick nap. Only 10 to 20 minutes can reduce your sleep debt and leave you ready for action.
Learn mindfulness or connect with a spiritual practice that vibes with you.

Outer Self-Care
Eat something you enjoy.
Have a long bath or shower, sit around in your bathrobe, and read magazines.
Do a mini-declutter. Recycle three things from your wardrobe that you don’t love or regularly wear or clean out your backpack/purse.
Help someone. Carry a bag, open a door, or pick up an extra carton of milk for a neighbor.
Stretch. 5-10 minutes to get out the kinks helps your body and mind.
Use lotion or a product that makes you happy.
Spend time with real friends and other people who lift you up.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fingerprints of God

Motherhood has kept me quite busy, which is why there has been zero action on this page for a while. A Facebook post today inspired me to tell a little bit of our story. I've been very particular with the details of our children's stories that we share with the public for obvious reasons but there are times when it's important to share things so that God can be glorified. I feel that this is one of those times. About a year ago God began to nudge me to look into finding Isaiah's birth mother in Ethiopia. All that we knew was that he was abandoned and that she had Hepatitis C (for more on the back story click Here).  Mothers Day came and I grieved for her. For a woman I never met but felt so connected to. I would watch Isaiah smile and ham it up and I'd think of her. How she must wonder about him. And my has he grown.

So, a few months ago I decided to go for it and reached out to a mutual friend who lived in Ethiopia and was finding birth families. Today he delivered us the biggest news. He found her! Not only did he find her, he gave her pictures of our sweet boy and was able to get some back story. While I am not going to post all of the details (this story will be his to tell one day) I do want to share one that I feel is most glorifying to the Lord. 

As you may not know I work in mental health. It is my passion and I love every minute I spend working with my clients. Today I learned that his birth mother and uncle suffer from mental illness. This spoke to my heart so much. Then I got the following message, "When she realized she was pregnant she went to a local hospital to have an abortion. She spent the night after the procedure and went home. She later became more sick and her belly became bigger and she knew she was still pregnant. Then, when Beruk was three months old she left him in the village and you know the details from there."  Friends, my sweet, beautiful boy survived a botched abortion. Not only did he survive but he came out perfectly healthy. What Satan meant for evil the Lord used for good. I've always known God had big plans for my baby boy. But, man I had no idea. I almost did not share these details because the idea of so many people knowing such a hurtful part of his past bothered me. I've seen, however, how the Lord used my dear friends the Schroers when they shared about how their son came to be with them and I couldn't help but sing God's praises. I've always been pro-life, but today I'm even more so. I admire his birth mother so much for choosing to continue carrying this little blessing and giving him the best life she could. Only God knows what's in store, but I know He holds tomorrow and I find so much comfort in that.