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Saturday, May 23, 2015

It's not a sin. It's a crime.



Hey Christians. Here's the deal.

I was going to keep quiet. I wanted to keep quiet. I was going to let this one just slide by, and let all the other news sites, bloggers, media junkies, and joe shmoes write about it.

But the thing is. I can't.

Because I keep reading about it. And because one thing keeps popping up, and I've got to tell you. It's driving me crazy.

When an act not only defies God's laws, but man's laws -- it is not a sin problem. It is a crime.

When an act strips children who have no voice of their innocence, it is not a matter of getting someone's heart right before God. It's about true rehabilitation. 

When a parent knowingly allows innocent children to be alone with a sex offender, it is not a "hard decision." It is straight irresponsibility.

I may not be a total Duggar lover, but I'm a supporter of them as fellow Christians. And I'm not trying to make light of what they had to deal with. I can only imagine how hard it was to hear that their son was up to that. And I can only imagine the pain they are feeling now.

But as Christians, please understand that we can love them, we can support them, and we can forgive them -- but making EXCUSES for any of their behavior is absolutely unacceptable.

Please know that when we say "God has forgiven" and "who are we to care what was done 15 years ago?" and "he was only a child" or "they did their best" . . . that to the rest of the world, we look like spiritual pansies.

And worse, we look like enablers.

So let's stop talking about his "sin." Let's stop petitioning to get their show back on. Let their family deal with the consequences of their actions (and in-actions as it may be.) Pray for them -- but for the love of all things holy, please pray the most for the victims.

Because the WAY we respond as Christians matters.

Let's love. But let's also stand for accountability.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Christ did not die for me. Here's why...



pulled up to a stoplight near our home, the first car in a long line of traffic. It is a busy intersection, hemmed in by a 7-11, Starbucks, Wal-Greens and a supplement store (which in spite of seeing it every day for 6 years, I can't remember the name.)

While Spirit 105.3 played over the radio, a homeless man crossed slowly in front of me.

His grayish white beard hung limply to his mid-chest. This thin frail arms showed weathered, leathered looking skin. On one foot was a gray sneaker. The other foot -- a mismatched white one. 

He was tall, thin and old looking.

Too old, I thought. I wondered what a clean shave, some nice clothes, and some meat on his bones would do for him. I wondered what happened in his life that his is now gimping along the white-striped road in front of me, with mismatched dirty clothes and averted eyes.

He made his trek to 7-11, then I lost sight of him.

I briefly thought of stopping to buy him some food, but then I remembered I had kids in the car. Sometimes I let fear that something might happen to my kids prevent me from doing what I would otherwise do. 

As I watched him, I became painfully aware of my own comfort. My expensive mini-computer (which I call a phone) sitting by my lap. My minivan that comes with AC, heat, leather seats and butt-warmers. My cute, washed (but of course not ironed) clothes. The expensive products prettying my face. 

And even more painfully, I became aware of something I had that he likely didn't.

Hope. This man needed hope. 

I was rich in hope. He was starved.

The radio blared on, and a phrase interrupted my stream-of-conscious thinking with a truth I have heard throughout my life:

Christ died for me.

Most days, I wouldn't have payed much attention. I've heard it a million times. But not today. 

Because watching a man with no hope opened my eyes to a horrible lie I have believed: 

If Christ died for me, and I am saved, then that's it. His mission is complete. 

I am saved, I've been redeemed, and I'm darn comfortable, thank-you-very-much.  We could just get this earth thing over with, head on to heaven and everything will be fine and dandy. 

But did Christ really die for me?

So often, we Christians tell others that if they were the only person on this earth ... Christ would have died for them.

I think that approach comes innocently enough. We want everyone to know the value they specifically hold in God's eyes.

But the danger comes when we internalize this. And really, finding out that the creator of the universe cares so much about us as individuals really kinda goes to our heads. Or at least it goes to mine.

All of the sudden, my personal wellbeing has just skyrocketed in importance.

But can we also be honest about what is equally true? If we had never been born, Christ would still have would have died.

Because there are others. 

Because scripture says, God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Get that? Whoever. (Not just me.) The whole WORLD. (Again, not me.)

Christ did not die for me. He died for the world. 

He came for the homeless man I should have fed and should have told about Jesus. He came for the neighbors I choose not to meet. He came for the families in Nepal, who I haven't been praying for. 

He came for the hurting and the broken and the proud and the wealthy and the sick and the wise and the foreigners and the intellectuals and the kids and the old people and the gays and the straights.

His heartbeat is not for Rachel. His heartbeat is for the world.

And it's about darn time my heartbeat starts echoing his.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Learning the dance of letting go



 

I am loving, parenting, mothering a phantom baby.

He is here now. His contagious laughs, frequent night waking, boy toys, and daily Tupperware-cupboard emptying all make his presence known. 

But it does not look as though he will stay.

I know that time will pass as quickly as it does when you really just want it to slow down. Or maybe even stop for awhile.

And time will take with it this child who I have learned to love as a son. 

It will be too soon that the social workers will come, and it will be our final goodbye. Just writing this my tears stream, and I try not to ugly-cry. (Not working.)

I believe it is a simple matter of time before the emptiness of him gone will settle into every crevice of our household. Settle into every heart that has fallen for this baby.

His bath towel will be here, unused. His dresser, empty. The trucks and trains we've collected will only be remembered by the photos we'll have of him playing. His high chair cleaned, folded and stored in the garage. His car seat taken out of the car, and stored right along with his high chair.

I feel the need to keep up appearances. To be stoic, and martyr-y, and tell you it is worth it. To act like a saint by bottling up feelings. Because I still believe in foster parenting. And I still believe that more of you guys should seriously consider it.

But I am no saint, and I have a feeling I would make a terrible martyr. Yet my hope is still that as we complete our time with Z ... No matter how messy or beautiful that time will be ... You might still consider opening your home and hearts.

I will get through this. I'm a big girl. But I can't help but fear that the separation will be too hard on Z. Even though I know it is poison, my heart drinks in all the worries of the what-ifs. I long to protect Z from the heartache of good-bye. I know it is coming ... But he is still in his happy little world, with no idea of the changes that lay ahead.

We didn't take Baby Z in with the intent of having a forever son ... But I have a forever-mama heart for him. No matter where he lives, he'll be my son in my heart.

And now I just need to learn this new dance. Of letting go, watching my children's hearts break for a time, trusting God with Z and of blessing new mom. (Or old mom, as I guess she is.)

It's a dance I must master. But I am an unwilling student at times. God has to keep leading me back here to the dance floor, telling me to trust Him.

Some of you will say, "there is hope! Court is still a few weeks away."

But I don't feel the right to hope that he stays. To hope that he stays means hoping that Z's mom will fail, and that Z will be separated from his bio siblings.

am loving, parenting, mothering a phantom baby.

He is here today. Gone tomorrow.

Somehow, I need to learn to be OK with a future that may not ever have my baby Z in it again.

This is Z's favorite way to ride in the car ... Holding mama's hand.

** as you know, there are many details of Z's case that I cannot share. However, I have every reason to believe that reunification will happen, unless something drastic changes. At this point, that timeline could be anywhere from June through fall. 

Please pray for the social workers making recommendations, the judge's fair and clear thinking, for bio mom to be able to raise him well, for Z as he walks through this without any words to express how he feels, and our family as we let go and mend our hearts.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Project Get 'er Done!

Truth:

My body does not act or look like what I want it to.

Fiction:

Since Z moved in (sweet baby), I've kicked my exercise habit to the curb. I believed the lie that I couldn't have a rockstar bod with 3 babies. And I'm not talking skinny -- I'm talking about a body that is strong and is capable. That's rockstar to me.

Truth:

I'm ready to get my exercise back in shape. I know it's important for my own self-confidence, for my endorphins, and I need to do this BEFORE Z leaves and I'm too sad to do it.

So project Get 'er Done starts now!

I'll be doing the 30-day shred with Jillian Michael's. Let me know if you want to join me!

Join my exercise accountability group on FB here.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

A heart suspended




My beautiful friend Bethany, and her momma,
after the delivery of her stillborn baby Mya.
This photo says it all.


Birds chirp outside on this beautiful Sunday morning. I am sipping my sugared espresso my husband crafted for me, with foamed up half and half (and a scoop of hand-whipped cream for good measure.) Katie Rusby is playing on Pandora, her country-Irish style gently filling the spaces in our home.

I awoke this morning to my 6-year-old kissing me and telling me Happy Mother's Day.

My other kids were apparently with my husband. He got up and took them all to the store to get everything to make me pancakes. Breakfast was complete with strawberries & cream, and a bouquet of flowers. The children are all playing in Maddy's room -- their laughter every so often replaced by screams or cries. But mostly laughter.

This has all the perfect makings of a perfect Mother's Day.

And yet part of my heart is just suspended.

It wants to relish, to celebrate, to feel loved and be loved. It wants to rest in the moment of a peaceful, messy-ish home, cluttered from the makings of children's hands and pattering feet. It longs to say that all is right in this world.

But half of my heart feels taken up today in sadness.

It is part longing for my children I didn't get to meet.

It is part longing for heaven.

It is in part with my friend Bethany -- whose daughter Mya was stillborn 3 years ago. Beautiful baby girl, who brought so much joy to her parents. Since Mya, there have been no other children. No one to mother, but a mother she is.

It is holding its breath for my friend K. Her unborn baby has a fatal diagnosis. Her life is caught up in an unfair limbo -- life and death, carried in her womb together. There is not one without the other. How must she be feeling today?

It is far away with a mom I haven't met. Whose 3-month-old died from SIDS, after several pregnancy losses. Linnea and Bridget -- I'm thinking of you today and wishing with all my heart God provides comfort.

It is with Cat, who is celebrating her second Mother's Day without Preston.

It is with Lindsay, Jasmine, Katherine, Brittany, Brittany, Alex, Kristin, Emily, Jeanne, Summer, Meredith, Amanda, Deanna, Molly, Crystal, Brittany C, Melanie, Joanna, Christine, Laura, Hollie, Cara, Tiffany, Kristin, Stacy, Sarah, Carly, Becky, Hannah, Jeni, Kelly, Melissa, Syndi, Abby, Nancy, Hope, Elizabeth, Emily, Kristen, Sara, Jenny, Sarah, Janice, Anna, Jennifer, Rochelle, Stephanie, Danielle, Jessica, Camlyn, Courtney, Jennene, Brittney, Jenny, Cheryl, Amanda, Karen, Kimberly, Tiffany, Cherie, Terrin, Bethany, Sheryle, Susan, Lindsey, Melissa, Kendra, Emily, Jill, Del, Amanda, Paula, Carilla, Theresa, Holly, Lindsey, Brandy, Sara, Elizabeth, Cally, Cheryl, Erica, Rebekah, Jessica, Kristi, Lisa, Beatrice, Andrea, Stevie, Kendra, Beckie, Lael, Bridget, Heather, Palei, Beth, Becky, Isablel, Rochelle, Julie, and Deborah . . . .

All of whom have their own stories to tell of much-wanted, much-loved children who went to heaven.

It is with Leyla's bio mom -- wherever in the world she is. Wondering if she misses Leyla today. Wondering if she is alive and OK.

It is with Z's bio mom -- wondering if she has room in her heart today to miss and love Z, now that she has a new baby to love on.

It is with my friends who want to have a family, but are single.

It is with my friends who have had abortions, but keep their motherhood a secret.

It is with my own parents who are missing their moms today. Grandma Fulner & Grandma Enyeart -- we all love you and miss you so much.

It is with the dads out there who are missing their wives on this day.

It is with Becky, and my other single mom friends, who do so very much to mother their children.

It is with the women who I love so dearly, and wish I could give them babies -- but are childless for now.

It is with the moms who have no living children.

It is with my friends who no longer have a relationship with their moms.

It is with my friends, like Ashton, who are mothers to waiting children overseas. The adoption process can't get over fast enough.



On this day, I do not forget that I am blessed. I've been given the gift of mothering 3 on earth, 4 in heaven, for however long God sees fit. I also do not forget the pain of Mother's Days past. I do not forget the pain of my friends above.

To all of you, whether you got roses and strawberries and cream -- or no one acknowledged you as a mom today -- I hope that in your heart you find love, find comfort, find some measure of joy. I hope that today is more than a day of pain, but a day to find some happy memories of the children we have been blessed to know -- no matter how long. I hope that there is some healing and restoration today.

I wish you all a very gentle Mother's Day.

Love, Rachel

Saturday, May 9, 2015

What every mom needs to hear from the pulpit on Mother's Day

Dear pastors on the day before Mother's Day,

No doubt you've just about finished up your sermon by now. Perhaps you are applying the finishing touches to your message, creating the slides to pass off to your tech team, or figuring out which mothers you'll have stand to be recognized (oldest mother, newest mother, etc.)

I wonder if you have chosen to highlight a biblical mom . . . Elizabeth, maybe. Or Hannah. Or Moses's mom. Or the mom of all moms, Mary.

I know there's a lot of pressure on you this day. Everyone is looking to you to come up with a fresh, encouraging spin on motherhood . . . just as you have had to do every year on this day throughout your career. 

We all know that good moms do a lot of thankless work. We know that they self-sacrifice a lot. And as a mom myself, I do get why there is a day set aside for us every year to acknowledge that our role is important.

But might I say this one thing?

Some moms get to be moms, and they are good at it. Other moms get to be moms, and they suck at it. (It's ok, we can admit that not all mothers are saints.) 

Some women would be amazing at motherhood, but their bodies refuse to create a baby for them. Some moms are moms through adoption, but they feel like the worst kind of mom because they are struggling to attach to their child.

Some moms are secret moms. They gave their child away for adoption. Some of them are at peace with this decision. Others were forced to relinquish their kids by family, social pressures, or the state.

Some moms have chosen abortion. They'll come tomorrow with feelings of guilt and shame. Or maybe feelings of peace about their decision, but they won't dare open up for fear of what others might say.

Some moms are temporary moms, as they foster the babies of the not-so-saintly moms, and struggle in knowing that the baby they've given their heart and soul to will one day never even know they existed.

There are moms who have lost their own mom, and feel completely at a loss for how to honor their dead mother.

Other moms are grieving their dead babies. Some of those women don't have any living children. They wish they knew the kind of sacrifice and servanthood you speak of. Their only way to parent is to create memorials, or whisper their child's name at night, or donate time and money to worthy causes in their baby's name.

Some moms are waiting moms ... Waiting for their adoption to finalize, or be matched with an expecting mom. Some moms have their waiting children in other countries, and may have to wait for years before they can wrap their arms around their own.

And then there are the dads...

The ones whose wife is struggling with postpartum depression, and she has retreated from her family as hormones and imbalance hold her captive.

There are the dads whose wife died. They are now playing both mom and dad. Mother's Day is just on more reminder of what his kids no longer have.

There are dads who have to explain to their kids that mom has chosen to leave, and will not be coming back. 

There are single moms, and happy moms, and fulfilled moms, and empty moms, and bereaved moms, and infertile moms, and women who long to be moms, and dads who have to be the moms, all filling the pews of your church tomorrow.

I know you long to give them a fresh word on motherhood ... But I hope you know that what they need, what we all need, is the same-old message you give time and time again.

Jesus saves.

He's our redeemer, soul-saver, family-keeper, sanity-saver, purpose-giver, and forever-lover.

No matter who fills your church tomorrow ...no matter what baggage they are forced to bring ... Offer them the hope that comes with a relationship with Jesus. 

And the rest, I promise, will fall exactly into place.

Much appreciation for all you do, 

Rachel

A fulfilled, infertile, bereaved, bio mom, foster mom and adoptive mom who still needs Jesus

Monday, May 4, 2015

Microblog Monday: Laundry

I love the smell of fresh laundry.

I love looking at my kids' cute little clothes, and think happy thoughts about the little stinkers.

I hate actually doing the laundry.

Lately, laundry has brought me a new challenge --- besides taking over my entire living room once a month.

As I sort through Z's clothes, I mentally go through the list of what I'm sending with him when/if he goes home, and what I'll keep.

And then I hug his clothes and cry.

I now cry almost every time I do laundry. I wonder about the day that I'll be doing the last load of his clothes, and he will be gone. My arms will be empty again. I'll just have some of his old clothes left here. The ones that I want to keep to remember him by. The clothes I will fold, and put away, and not have a reason to bring out again -- other than to hug it and cry.

In 4 short weeks, we will know if the plan is to go home or to stay.

Z's baby sister was born today. So the clock is ticking . . . how will mom do with a new baby? Will she be able to handle it, and then Baby Z, and then the other siblings?

Time is ticking. The clock is racing. And we're getting closer to maybe saying good-bye, one laundry load at a time.


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