Friday, May 10, 2013

Learning to love myself....

I have been silent on my blog for quite a while. Time just seems to be zipping by, and by the time I have taken care of my children, my husband, my clients and my house (on keep it real!) I am just too spent to sit and write. However, my mind hasn't stopped swirling. The nonstop movement of thoughts racing around in my mind is what drove me to blog in the first place, and it appears to have me returning as I am now losing sleep over this stuff! There is so much I am trying to process and I'd like to get into writing so it's out of my head for a bit, but with Mother's Day approaching, I'll start with something related to mommyhood. It's kind of morbid, yet it's where my mind has been.....

I have struggled with my self image for years. Actually, for as long as I can remember. Weighing in at 99lbs at my high school graduation, I still was self conscious. Surely everyone could see my fat rolls under my graduation gown!! Shorts, swimsuits, even tank tops had me in a constant state of panic while wearing them. The the dreaded happened....I gained weight. A lot of weight! The self image that was already shaky to begin with, plummeted. I tried to ignore it and pretend I was happy with myself, but it was an act. I hated what I saw in the mirror, but in my mind I had always been fat. I tried to lose the weight but was not successful for quite a while. Finally after a drastic shakeup in my personal life, I lost the weight. Seventy one pounds to be exact. For a while I actually felt good about myself, but it was short lived.

I was 104lbs at 3 months pregnant with Jazmine. I tried to eat healthy and was determined to not "get fat" again. Before she was a month old, I'd lost all pregnancy weight but 10lbs. For my height, 114 is respectable so I tried to be content with it. Then I got pregnant with Isaac. I love that boy but he wrecked havoc on my body. Another child and almost 6 yrs later I am still trying to lose the baby weight I gained with HIM. I love my children but hate my body. I do what I can to try to ignore the bad I see in the mirror and focus on finding good, but that is way easier said than done when you've been hating the reflection in the mirror for well over 20 years!

The other day I read an article that really got me thinking. It was titled "So you're feeling too fat to be photographed..." and I saw the link on Facebook. Of course I had to click and check it out because, well, that was me.

I am not sure what I was expecting to read, and I was pretty sure I'd shrug off what it said and figure the advice was for "other people"...but it really hit home. After reading the article I looked around the house. There are over 42 pictures on display in various places. Do you know how many I am in? Three. And in two of them children are hiding most of me.

I have been realizing lately how our lives can be changed in the blink of an eye. Sickness, acts of violence or even just an accident can flip our world upside down. Our loved ones will not always be here on Earth. As I look around, I realize if something were to happen to me, my children, husband and even the rest of my family would basically only have memories. There are almost no pictures of me enjoying and doing life with them. My husband would be able to remember me easier because he's been with me the longest, but my children are young. Jazmine and Isaac might be able to remember what I looked like, but Kyleigh wouldn't. She would only have pictures. And there are practically none.

I want to change that. I don't want to look around our house and have it appear that I don't exist in this family. I've been selfish, if I must be honest. Not being in pictures with my children and family is because of my selfishness. It's not fair to deprive them of accurate documentation of our lives as a family. And the truth is, I am with my children constantly. Heck, I've only gone 24 hrs one time without seeing my older two. I've only gone an hour without seeing Kyleigh. Their lives and mine are so deeply intertwined, yet I fear pictures showing us together. Not anymore.'s really not that easy, but I am making a daily effort. And the effort actually doesn't start with getting the camera out. It starts in my mind.

It's funny how God works. He actually started this latest journey a couple weeks ago. I had had a terrible day. Completely felt like a failure as a mother and wife, and was crying as I lay down to try to go to sleep and close the door on a horrible day. From out of nowhere the words 'more precious than rubies' came to mind. I've never compared anything to a ruby so I knew it wasn't from me, yet it helped me strangely feel better. When I got out of bed the next morning, the first thing I did was google the phrase, and I chuckled to myself as I realized they were from a bible verse. God is so amazing, He whispered loving words to my hurting soul right when I needed them most.

I know I sound all over the place with these two random trains of thought...but they aren't so random, as they actually go hand in hand. If I realized my worth, I wouldn't be petrified of the camera. To realize my true worth, I need to start with a God who loves me and created me perfectly in His image. I need to accept and truly embrace that truth.

I tell my children daily how much God loves them. I tell them they and EVERYONE is perfect as they are, imperfections and all, because that is how God made us. We are created in His image and we need to celebrate that. When my daughter tells me she'd like her hair straight, I remind her how perfect she is just as God created her. When my son is on the exercise bike asking me if it would help him lose weight so he'd weigh less so I could lift him up more since he's such a big boy, I remind him he's perfect and I love him and I pick him up, as it soothes his precious heart. If I want my children to love themselves as they are, then I must live that truth. I must love myself as I am. I must teach them by being an example.

It's not an easy journey, I am wrestling with myself and God daily right now. But I know when I am at the end, I'll look back with my head held high, thanking God for the lesson. <3

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Love With Abandon Project

Wow! My poor blog has been so neglected!! I am trying to get back to blogging (both here and on the children's blog) because I love to not only share things, but I love the ability to have a record of what was important to me at the time. Hopefully I still have some readers out there in BloggyLand! :)

I wanted to share with you what a dear bloggy friend is doing over on her blog, God laid a very special project on her heart regarding caring for orphans and widows (something she is quite passionate about), and I would love for you to read about it and hopefully help with it. Here is the Love With Abandon Project in Rachael's own words.......


Last February I went on a mission trip.  Our church took a team of about 10 people to Addis Ababa.  We had a dual purpose: training for indigenous church planters and serving with widow & orphan care ministries.
When I went on my first mission trip to Ethiopia in 2010, I was in the middle of our adoption process.  I had never been to a third world country. Truthfully, I had never been on a mission trip anywhere.  I was broken, in a good way, but I can't help but think everything I processed was seen by me, at least in part, through the filter of our adoption.  Of course I was motivated to share the love of Jesus with all those sweet children and to see the face of Jesus in the beautiful people of Ethiopia.   But it was also another layer to our story, to understanding the why of our decision to adopt internationally, seeing first hand the great need, and falling in love with a country that is now a big part of our life.
And I felt confirmed in our decision to adopt, and to adopt from Ethiopia.  I love adoption so much.  I love the gospel so clearly on display.  I love kids without families being fought for, being loved, and being pursued so intensely and sacrificially so they can have a forever home and a forever family. "One less." It didn't seem like much of an impact after witnessing such great need, but it was something.
 Fast forward to last year.  While we were in country on our trip, we found out some news about our own adoption that brought to light that our story was not the story we thought it was.  It forced us to deal with the truth that adoption is a messy business.  Worth the mess, and a wonderful answer to a great need--but it is only ONE answer.  And what hit me hard on that trip last year was, is it the best answer?

Hear me out.  In some cases, yes, it is.  But perhaps in other cases, it's not addressing the systemic problem.  And--here's where it got tough for me personally to swallow--it might even be perpetuating unethical practices because we are so focused on working hard to get kids into our families that we don't even see the opportunity to prevent them from needing to be there in the first place.
I think of all the time, energy, blood, sweat, tears, and CASH poured into bringing Abby home.  Was it worth it?  Would I do it again?  Abso-friggin-lutely!!  In a heartbeat.  She's worth it.  And God is soverign--no doubt in my mind He brought her to our family.
But--here's the rub.  Am I willing to pour as much energy, time, resources, and passion into fighting to keep children with their birth families?  Because I believe--and my eyes were opened to--many situations where mothers and fathers are giving up children for adoption because they do not have the means or ability to meet their basic needs.  No parent should have to make that kind of decision.  It's a harder problem to solve, and often waaayyyy messier to deal with.  But as beautiful a picture as adoption displays of the gospel, isn't equipping a family to stay together and seeing it thrive also a beautiful picture of redemption and restoration? 

Adoption is a great response.  I'm just not sure it should be our first response.

And I am convicted all over again.  I want to be mobilized and advocating for the adoption of true orphans, particularly those who are overlooked or considered unwanted.  And, with the same passion and fervor, I want to fight for kids to stay in their families.  I want to support and advocate for ministries that share the love of Jesus and offer much needed help to women who just need a hand so they can care for their children.  And I want to serve firsthand women facing these kinds of decisions and let them know they are not alone, that someone cares for them and for their children.

And these thoughts and stirrings are what led me to launch the

Last year I raised approx $2500 for my mission trip.  I decided I wanted to raise DOUBLE that amount to give back to orphan care---in all of it's different nuanced areas. 

I have set a goal to raise $6,000 during the month of March so I can give $1,000 each to 6 different needs, each addressing the orphan crisis in a different way. (Originally I planned to raise $5,000, but I'll explain why that changed in just a second.)  Let me share with you first WHO I'm fundraising for, and then tell you HOW I plan to do it!

Levi and Jesse are the awesome couple behind Bring Love In, which works to create new families in Ethiopia by pairing a single mom and her children with other orphans in a home unit, providing a family structure and support for a lifetime.

 Peter and Elizabeth run Compassion Families, which provides drop-in centers for kids who need schooling, and/or after school care, also helping with needs like uniforms and school supplies and clothing and shoes.  Making it a little easier for those families who are struggling to provide basic needs for their children.

 Jerry & Christy Shannon run Embracing Hope, and it was their daughter's genius idea to provide a free day care for single moms so they can go to work without a child strapped to their back.  Providing food each week, and supporting the moms with micro-loans and saving plans so they can look ahead with hope to a future being able to provide for their family without having to beg or prostitute. 

LifeBridge is my local church, and we just moved 6 months ago into a building that's located in the poorest zip code in our county.  We are thrilled to be there, and each day the Lord is guiding us as to new ways to love tour new neighbors.  Our ministries to the broken families in our area are just beginning.
The Waulks are our dear friends and part of our church family.  Josh is our Executive pastor at LifeBridge.  They adopted Karis 2 years ago, and are in the process of adopting domestically again, a baby due this summer. 

The Davis family
When I first decided to do this project, I was going to set out to raise $5000 for the 5 causes above.  My friend Christy happened to be one of the first people I told about my project, and she was so supportive and excited for my efforts.  She has always been the biggest cheerleader and supporter of many of our adoptions, long before they even began their adoption process last year.  They have been waiting to bring a little girl home from Ethiopia.  But just this last week, her husband died tragically,  leaving Christy and three beautiful children behind.  As many of my friends and I grieved, prayed, and served her this last weekend, it dawned on my how close to home it was now---the charge to care for widows and orphans.  Now it's my friend, and now it's her kids.  So it didn't take me long to decide to add their family to my project.
So that's the WHO.  Now for the HOWAnd here's where you come in!

I am launching a store of fun items, and ALL the profits will go towards these ministries and families.  My goal is to be able to raise $1,000 for each.

So it's my own version of March madness! : )  Are you in?!  OK so here's the links you'll need:

  • SHOP* here!! 
  • Donate directly to Bring Love In
  • Donate directly to Compassion Families (PLEASE make a note in donation that it is for Compassion Families--this organization supports other ministries)
  • Donate directly to Embracing Hope
  • Donate directly to LifeBridge Church
  • Donate directly to the Waulk family
  • Donate directly to the Davis family:
    • Paypal a donation to
    • Davis Children Trust, c/o Everbank, 26417 US Highway 19, Clearwater, FL 33761
(If you would prefer to donate by check to any of the above, please email me for information.)

(Please please let me know if you donate directly so I can count it in my total for fundraising!)

*Keep in mind, this is a pre-order, so while I have stock in a few things, most items will not ship until the first part of April.  I appreciate your patience so I can keep my costs as low as possible and give the MOST away possible!!

OK people--let's do this!!