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Monday, April 13, 2015

Microblog Monday: Tight ponytail hair day





It a feeling of overwhelming. A tightness in your chest. It is being completely undone. Fingernails on chalkboards everywhere you turn.

It is illogical. Unreasonable. Inconvenient. 

And you know that.

But no matter how much you apologize, no matter how much you try not to complain, no matter how irrational you know you are being, it's still there.

It claws. It suffocates. It python-squeezes.

It is quicksand. It shifts quickly. It engulfs.

You try to escape, but thoughts trigger just like reality does. Thoughts and reality blur. What is real? What am I afraid of?

It is a pile of laundry. Is is a big crowd. It is a fast-approaching deadline. It is never life-threatening. But I can't tell that to my body.

It is slowly becoming unglued. Unraveling, like yarn. It is the boiling pot that is ready to spill.

It demands action. Immediate, fast, reckless action. The trigger has to be dealt with and dealt with now.

 But it is also paralyzing. Quadriplegic. Just get away. Escape. Close your eyes. Ignore it. Breathe. Just breathe. Just breathe.

Maybe that's a good thing. On a tight-ponytail hair day, I am reckless. I push too hard, throw too often, toss away without thought. I am a wind-up toy wound far too far past my limit.

I am now an adult. I have grown-up words to put my experience into context. Fight or flight. Sensory input. Meditation.

But as a kid, I had no words. Just shrieks when my blinds were opened when I got home from school. (I kept them closed.) Fits when my bed covers got out of place. A rush of chaos when my closet doors were cracked open. 


My logical response ... Put that hair back into the tightest ponytail until your eyebrows have been relocated to the base of your scalp.

It wasn't long before the whole family knew these days as "tight ponytail hair days."

But most people just call it anxiety.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Why I regret sharing my photo with Ellen DeGeneres

Dear Ellen,

I like you a lot. I really do.

But I have to be super honest with you. I kinda regret sending you a photo recently.




 Maybe you saw it, but chances are -- you never will. (Chances are you'll never read this blog either. But maybe I just really need to write it for me.)

When I posted my Easter photo flop on Facebook, all my friends and family thought it was funny. And it is funny. Especially when you know the backstory to my girls.

And in good humor and fun they suggested I share my photo with you. And in good humor and fun, I shared it on your wall.

And as soon as I posted it . . . I noticed something. Honestly, something that disturbed me a little.

It turns out that everyone under the moon wanted to share something with you.

Now obviously, that they want to share with YOU is not bad. You've built a reputation and career on being completely personable. You are as comfortable with celebrities as you are with the every day mom as you are in your own skin. You draw people in. And that's an amazing gift.

But as I scrolled through the posts on your wall, I got a feeling that many were sharing not because they just wanted to share with you -- but because they wanted something from you.

And that's when I got this icky feeling inside after posting.

You see, people began liking my post on your wall. And for a few minutes, I went there. I day dreamed about meeting you. About sharing the story of my two miracle girls. About having the opportunity to share on national TV why foster care is so important.

In truth -- for a few minutes, I did want something from you.

I wanted your platform.

I wanted to use something that you, YOU (not me), have invested countless years, emotions and dollars into. You laid all the groundwork. And like all the other posters on your wall, I started the think that maybe I was special. That maybe a silly picture of two (adorable yet silly) girls might be enough to earn me a spot in YOUR limelight.

And you know what? I'm not OK with that.

Not only am I not OK with feeling like I wanted to use you . . . I'm also not OK at the quick greed I felt in my heart.

I became greedy for likes. I become greedy for validation that, yes, my girls are cute. I became greedy for attention.

Why do I feel that I need the universe to like what I like?

Does 100, or 1,000, or 10,000 likes change the fact that I had a really horrible photo shoot for Easter that resulted in both massive meltdowns for all my kids -- and an epic photo that I'll treasure forever?

Nope.

You see, Ellen, whether you see my picture or don't -- I'm still the lucky one. I'm still the one that gets to carry my story that God gave me. I still get to create more pictures and memories with my two girls and with my little boy for as long as we get him. The road we've been on and continue to travel has not been easy -- but it's my road. And I'm honestly blessed I get to be on it.

So Ellen, if you saw my picture -- I'm glad. If it gave you a little chuckle or brightened your day just a bit -- I'm super happy for you.

But I just want to be clear. I don't need anything from you in return. And I hope you'll forgive me for thinking, even just for a just a moment, that maybe I did need something from you.

[And for all of you non-Ellen readers (which I have a feeling is all of you), I want you to know that I'm using MY platform -- the one I've invested countless years and tears into -- to tell you that foster kids are important. Not everyone can be a foster parent -- but I challenge you to really pray about it, and do due diligence to see if maybe, just maybe, you can take in a needy child. I can't promise you anything -- but I can tell you that there are two children so far that have brought a whole lot of love and healing into my heart.]

Love,

Rachel



Wednesday, April 8, 2015

My game

Dearest readers,

A friend and I recently met up and she shared this story with me. I knew in my heart that her story had to be told. (I also wished I could write like her!) She was told by her abuser that she needed to be quiet. She has broken her silence. I'm so proud of this woman, proud to call her a friend, and proud to share her story with you.

I encourage you to comment -- but if you do, please post on this blog and not on Facebook so she can see your comments. 

To my friend -- You know who you are. You know that every day Jesus is fighting right alongside of us. He gives us purpose, and strength and dignity. Thanks for letting me in. Thanks for sharing not only for you -- but for all those who need to know that they are not alone in their struggle.

Love,

Rachel





There was an unmistakable chill in the air this morning, although not able to penetrate the light sweaters we were wearing, but it was sure trying.  The sun glimmered off of the mud outside our front door.  I thought it looked like Spring for a moment. Not quite yet, right?

The tulips and crocuses have stretched out their green necks towards the warmth we are all hoping for daily.  Their red, yellow, and pink colors just leap out of the dingy earth, winning over my attention -- these firsts of spring have given me a sip of peace. Cherry blossoms ring white and pink against morning grey skies.  Everywhere the renewal of life seems to ring in with the chirps of birds, the buzz of bees that are supposed to be asleep, and the patter of little feet outside my bedroom door. 

My eyes drift to my cell phone in the blank space before I have to push back the covers, feel the sting of inside cold morning air, and check what time the 3-year-old feet and hands push me around in my own bed.  Those little hands wave around, a voice calls to me, "Mommy, wake up!"  

I smile at the 6:38 am time, and receive my morning hugs and kisses. Our little man reports, "I dreamed of sky." Only a kid born and raised in rainy Washington state dreams of sky.  

It's that time. Push back the covers. Legs hit the carpeted floor. Time to get up. I hear two girls approach and hop in my shower. I send Little man off with his older brother to the other bathroom. They shower too. 

Morning routine has began. 

It's a Friday. It's the week before a game of chess with an old evil.  This is the kind of evil that has been practicing for years.  It's not unimaginable or unthinkable that being born into sin is a good qualification to predict what old evil will do or say; but it cannot. It's not enough. It's not enough to know the crooked business that you were hooked into.  It's not enough to know the men that charge ahead, channeled as warriors on behalf of old evil. It is just not enough.

As I sip a coffee and stare out at evergreen trees, I see the shadows creeping in on our home. The wind picks up leftover leaves and scatters them so randomly.  My brain feels like those leaves- stretched beyond and scattered beyond . . . beyond my control and the powerful gusts of negative, positive, depressed, oppressed, hopeful, joyful, and sad unknowns scatter at the same time. I do not know how they will land today.  

Breath. In. Out. In. Out. 

I am not 19. I am not 13. I am not 7. I am not. 

I am a woman. I believe in Jesus. I belong to Jesus. I am loved. 

I live now. It is March 2015.  I have a husband. I have four children. I am called mother, mommy or just, "hey!"

I am loved.

I was 7. I was 9. The ride back from Sacramento was conveniently on Interstate 80. It's a straight shot -- headed to the midwest.  Passing through Truckee, California, and the Sierra Nevada mountain range, I looked out my window at trees so large. The trees were tall. The trees were big. The trees looked like refuge. I imagined rolling out of my car, escaping with my backpack and ducking under a tree.  Under that tree I closed my eyes. I hummed a song because I couldn't speak.  The green needles of the evergreens didn't prick my skin, but their sharp smell calmed my hollow inside. I rested there. I wasn't cold. I wasn't alone. I saw Jesus come lay under the tree as well. He rested too. He could smell the sharp needles.  Jesus knew that they were the fragrance of freedom. 

Mom yells at our driver: "Stop driving so fast through the curves!" 

I am still 7. I am still 9. I am still in the car. 

The experts say that my uncle looked for opportunity. He saw opportunity. The experts say my uncle looked for childish charm and a potentially intelligent child. My uncle saw that in me. The experts say my uncle used his physical advantage to press for financial gain in the world of old evil.  Old evil gladly accepted my uncle's availability to work for its old cause. This old evil and its old cause (slavery of a child) is nothing new. 

There were warnings! Neon signs flashing 'STOP'! These signs were flashing before my birth. They have been flashing for over 2000 years. Men and women have bought and sold slaves for more than the last 100 years. And the fight against old evil was birthed since the beginnings.  It wasn't always a trendy fight.

The warnings have evolved as the trickery and conception of new devices of entrapment have emerged.  Jesus sees.

 It is March 2015.  I am a grown woman. Am I free?

The uncle who fights for old evil, is a double agent.  He's longing for church respect, love and dignity. He sent me a letter to say: "Stop telling your story.  Stop saying everything."

Husband and I responded in cries. The cries were answered by sending in the soldiers. The soldiers were in their stations -- fighting old evil already.  We just didn't know Jesus told them it was time to fight His battle from our small home in a small town . We prayed, begged and asked for mercy. We asked for grace. We begged for love. 

Jesus whispered to our hearts, "Your friends are with you." 

He whispered it in the shower. He whispered in the car. He whispered in the early sun of Spring. He didn't stop whispering. 

The reality of life does not stop. When you are fighting, you fight in the reality of life. You eat real food. Drink water. Struggle with sugar, alcohol and other dirty demons. Argue about money for field trips. Compromise on dinner plans. In reality, your sweat is still salty, your muscles ache when pushed, your husband snores when you're tired, and  the car gets a flat tire. It's real. 

It's real too when your Mexican three-year-old proclaims he's 'Black', your kindergartner explains gravity, your 9-year-old boy plants tomato seeds, and all four sing 'Let It Go'. 

On Saturday, my seven-year-old girl leaped for the basketball, missed it completely and smiled back at me. What an effort. She ran to me during the game, as if I'm distracted by three other kids to check and make sure I'm taking pictures. She's right. I don't want to miss a moment here. It is Saturday morning at the YMCA. Nothing better in our world this morning. 

Then my mind snaps back to our task.  It's never far away. It is not done. The fight is now.

Gandalf said; "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

The battle is raging. We want zero contact.

There is pre-game bluffing, fights over calendar dates, arguments over admissible evidence, jostling over personnel (which side people will land on), and last minute bullets shot/aimed like daggers towards innocence.

My declaration is over 25 numbered points. 

My declaration says I will not be quiet. I cannot stay silent. I am obligated to tell the truth. I am a mother of four beautiful children who God has given me to nurture , protect and defend. If I cannot battle my own self- contempt, I cannot be free. Everyday, I have to get down on my knees, ask God for the strength to stay sober and tell the truth. Every night I return to my knees to thank God for my life and another day. 

An uncle (by marriage) and aunt and their attorney stroll into district court in our local county --hundreds of miles away from the uncle's place of residence, to dispute harassment. 

The enemy sits on the left side of the court. Snickering and giggling and joking this uncle and aunt relax in court. I stare at my hands: no sweat. I listen to my heart: regular beat. I feel my husband beside me: we are strong together. I know our friends are praying. The density of evil can be felt -- it envelopes all of the unaware. And yet, the light on our side is blinding. There is a chase going on that stops here for the day as Jesus continues his pursuits in our courtroom as well: pursuit of our lives, pursuit of justice, pursuit of love. 

I repeat internally:

"Working in our waiting
You're sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding
You're teaching us to trust."

It's time to speak. I wasn't going to speak -- I thought I'd lost my voice. Maybe I had. Maybe it was damaged. Not this Friday. The voice that came out was steady, yet full of complex emotions -- the words were easy to say despite their fight and pain.

I told the truth without exaggerations and resisting (supernaturally) any embellishments that could promise false relief. Just Basics. The judge listened and ruled the letter was harassment. Step one. Done. 

My husband puts his head in his hands to rest for a minute. I squeeze his waste with my arms and rest in our friendship.  I felt Gregory Boyle's words acutely then, in total truth: " Kinship -- not serving the other, but being one with the other. Jesus was not 'a man for others' -- he was one with them. There is a world of difference in that.”  We have that -- it is a miracle and dream we are living. 

Our hearts still hurt. An adrenaline that has been coursing through our veins keeps up the defenses until we are in bed Friday night. I have cried out so many nights, 'take me with you, Jesus,' only to realize he is taking me with him. Everyday. On His path.

I believe in Jesus. I am not alone. It is March 2015. 

I hear Jesus whisper:

"My plans are still to prosper
I have not forgotten you
I am with you in the fire and the flood
I am faithful forever
Perfect in love
I am sovereign over you"

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Pursuit of Purpose: Session 5



Hey pursuit of purposers... Can I just tell you that I was just working on my fifth edit on my next PoP installment when my phone (which was plugged in btw) died and I lost my work. 

I need to tell you this because my fear is that you think I have forgotten or don't care, or that I've asked you to join me on something that I don't intend to finish. 

Which is so not the case.


So, here's how we're doing today's post.

I'm going to give you some resources, and I want you to follow up on one. Pick one, read it, listen to it or sign up for it ... And learn with me. 

"I pursue knowledge like others pursue success." -- Keith Kochner




I am convinced that we will never discover, or be equipped to pursue our purpose, on our own.

We will always need the knowledge and mentorship others.

Here are some of my recent favorites:

"The Dream Giver" -- book by Bruce Wilkinson

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s_ss_i_0_11?k=the+dream+giver&sprefix=the+dream+g



"Make It Happen" -- book by Lara Casey

http://laracasey.com/book/



"Mentorfish" -- a personal development and mentoring subscription bringing knowledge and insight to you in 15 minute segments every day. Totally worth 
the $9.90 a month subscription cost

Www.mentorfish.com


Go for the Gold call with Sarah  Wilson

(Ok, this was created for people in Arbonne, but trust me when I stay this is an amazing call that you just need to listen to. She covers so much about purpose in this 30-minute recorded call ... You'll want to listen again and again.)





After listening, reading, subscribing, or whatever you decide ... Go ahead and blog or journal through these questions:


If I could describe my most purposeful year, what would it look like?

What is one thing I can do differently every day to move me closer to my purpose?

If I had all the money in the world to give away, what cause or organization would I give it to?

What is my "why" that makes me cry? What gets me out of bed, breathing in, breathing out, moving forward, and something I couldn't live without?

Last, but not least... Create your mission statement... A one-sentence directive of your life's purpose. Write your mission statement on your mirror, the refrigerator, steering wheel of your car... Anywhere your eyes fall to remind you of your goals. (They must be specific ... Not "my mission is to change the world.") 


That's it. Can't wait to see what you all come up with!





Friday, March 27, 2015

Story for Gateway Church

On December 3, 2011, I took a very important test. The results of this test would affect how my life would look like for not just years, but for the whole of the rest of my life.

Praise God -- I got exactly the test result I had wanted.


We were going to have a baby.

let me back up a bit. About 4 years earlier, I had taken another pregnancy test and had the same result. But that time, I wasn't ready to be a mom. In fact, my initial response to getting pregnant was that "we were going to have a boy, and when he is 16, he's going to get a girl pregnant and we'll have a teenage pregnancy on our hands. then what are we going to do?" yes, those were my exact words. What can I say? Hormones.

Our first pregnancy was unplanned, and if I can say it, unwanted. At least by me.

All 9 months I had morning -- I mean, all day morning sickness. We almost lost the baby at 8 weeks when I hemorrhaged. I had threatened pre-term labor at 28 weeks, and again at 32. At 36 weeks, I developed a life-threatening condition. Maddy's heart rate dropped for 8 minutes. We did a quick C-section in hopes of saving both of our lives. It worked.

My unplanned baby was the best, most amazing blessing in my life.



Due to complications, we decided not to get pregnant again, but to pursue adoption. When our daughter was almost 3, we got licensed for foster care.


Just a few weeks later -- I got the positive pregnancy test. Unplanned. but this time so wanted.

You couldn't wipe that smile off my face.

Weeks later, I was in the ER with severe pain. The tech couldn't find the baby in my womb. Even still, I clung to hope. We had a scare with Maddy, and everything was fine. Surely God would swoop in and save this baby too right?

But God's not that predictable. Our daughter, Olivia, had implanted in my fallopian tubes. My tube ruptured, she died. And I was lost in grief.




I had never before understood what sorrow was until I knew my much-loved baby would not be joining our family in this world. What cute things would she have said? What would she have looked like? I knew she was in heaven, but I didn't want to wait 80 years and then die just to meet her. I longed for her to be in my arms.

My dear sister sent us an acorn to plant in her memory. But that darned acorn wouldn't grow. I had been faithfully watering it for 3 months, and nothing. I was this close to calling 1-800-FLOWERS to inform them that they sent me a dead seed to commemorate a dead daughter. I was less than impressed.

After our loss, I struggled to get pregnant again. Other people's fertility was everywhere I looked. Why had God forgotten me? Why did he choose not to give us our baby? Didn't she -- didn't we -- matter?

 
 
Our loss of Olivia sparked a horrible season of grief that resulted in 3 more miscarriages, unexplained infertility, and a hoped-for, but failed adoptive placement. It seemed that God had either forgotten about us entirely, or had purposely singled me out for on overload of loss. I didn't know which scenario was worse.

My prayers felt unanswered. They felt unheard. My hopes felt in vain. I was lost in my storm.

And then God did a miracle.

We began to babysit a foster baby named Leyla. Later, we were asked to be her adoptive parents. We couldn't have been more thrilled.

The day after she moved in, I searched my blog for where I was at in my life when she was born. I stumbled across this picture, taken March 3, 2012.

That was Leyla's Birthday.
The day that Leyla was born was the exact day our little acorn sprouted.


You see, God had not forgotten me. While my story is one of loss . . . our loss of babies, and Leyla's loss of her biological family . . . God is the God of redemption. And while I emotionally raged against Him, as I charged him with not caring, and for singling me out for pain -- He had already prepared our daughter Leyla to join our family.







 
 
 
 






 

Perhaps you too have had a storm. One so big that it made you question whether you matter edto God. Whether He cared. And whether your faith would see you through. I cannot tell you that storms do not hurt. My storm of grief, loss and infertility brought me to me knees. The loss, the pain, have scarred my soul. But God is still a God of faithfulness. There is no storm so great, no loss so severe, that he will not see you through.

Now when I question God's faithfulness, I have a very real reminder that He has not, nor ever will leave me. I hope that My story, Leyla's Story, will remind you in your storm that you are not alone.





Sunday, March 22, 2015

Forever is too far away



How quickly time passes. 

I blink, and it's been an hour, a week, a month, a year. 

When you leave, time feels as though it should stand still. Eternity bears it's weight upon my soul. Forever is too far away.

Don't get me wrong. I want forever. But I also want now. Now and tomorrow and tomorrow's tomorrow.

But I only get forever.

I need to survive your loss until forever.

The clock marches on, each tic each toc moving me both further away from your life and closer to your eternity.

Time can't move fast enough. Time can't freeze fast enough.

Life, breath, and touch replaced by memories. Vapors of what once was. Vapors of you. 

They bring comfort. But they are not enough.

You are gone. You are full, at peace, without pain, and embraced by joy.

I am here. A hole has replaced your presence in my heart. I will never again be fully who I was. Your love, your loss, they have changed me.

How quickly time passes. 

blink, and it's been an hour, a week, a month, a year. 

Why won't time stand still? 

Eternity bears it's weight upon my soul. 

Forever is too far away.

-- For the Tippetts family, as they mourn for their loving wife and mother, Kara

Friday, March 20, 2015

An open letter to the WIC office, and any other person that wants to bring up adoption around my daughter

Dear WIC lady (or anyone else that wants to talk adoption with me in front of my adopted kid),

I appreciate that you want to have a dialogue about adoption. As mother who believes that all children deserve a home, and that foster children are worthy of adopting, I appreciate the opportunities I am generally given to share our experience.

That being said . . .

My recent visit to the WIC office (well, actually all visits) have caused me to feel uncomfortable about the way our adoption is handled.

I understand that there are a series of personal questions that you must ask -- like about our income level, and our children's medical histories. And then there are questions that just don't make sense to me at all -- like why you, as a non-medical provider, would need my child's iron count -- but I let that one slide. Whatever. You need it.

But then there are the questions that I feel have really crossed the line of professionalism.

"Is your child adopted?"

Does this matter? Does it matter if she is adopted, or a foster child, or my bio child? I have already established that she is indeed mine, and I have also already given you the adoption decree that you should have on file.

What if we chose to keep Leyla's adoption a secret? What if she didn't know she was adopted, and here you are bringing it up in front of her. If I had been keeping it a secret, this is not the way I would have chosen for her to find out about it. If I wanted to mention the adoption to you, I would have told you she was adopted when you asked if she was mine. Instead, I just said, "Yes, she's mine." End of story. It doesn't matter how she came to be mine.


"Do you have an open adoption?"

Does this matter?


"Are her bio parents involved?"

Again what does this have to do with getting a check for oatmeal and cheese?

I don't talk with Leyla about her bio parents, and now that she is old enough to comprehend my words, I choose not to talk about her bio parents in front of her. She doesn't know these people. As far as she is concerned, Ryan and I are the only Mom and Dad she knows. We will bring up bio parents when she is older and is ready to ask those questions herself.

But I just have to ask you. What if she DID have memories of her bio parents? What if those were traumatic memories, and you asking how involved they were, and me having to admit, "well, they aren't involved at all by choice" brings up some trauma for her? What if it's too much for a child to handle -- having strangers ask why her bio parents have, in essence, abandoned her? Is this something that really needs to be brought up in an office visit?

"So I noticed on her growth chart that she is on the low side. Were her birth parents small?"

Could we maybe STOP talking about her birth parents?

"Does she go to preschool?"

Again, why is this pertinent? And when I answer that she went to Holly Ridge, but will start going to preschool in the fall, this is not an open invitation to ask about all her "issues." And yet it seems that by answering that she went to a developmental group, you now are expecting to be privy to all her history.

"Was she developmentally delayed?"

Yes.

"Does she still have issues now?"

Yes, she has sensory issues.


"What kind of sensory issues?"

Proprioceptive.


"Can you write that down? Tell me about that. I'm curious."

Please, tell me again why I need to be explaining to you about her sensory issues while my child is right here in the room with me. She is a person. I hate talking about her like this as though she is just a case, or some curiosity. She's a person. Can we please just get on with our appointment, and leave the personal details out?



Now if you are asking all these questions about adoption because you want to adopt yourself, I would be open to you saying, "I'm interested in adoption, and would love to hear more. Would it be OK if I contacted you at a different time to ask some questions?" Actually, in the right context, I love talking about adoption. But this does not feel like the right context to me.

And as it is, your questions are scattered in between other questions I feel I am obligated to answer...

"What medications is she on?"

"What is your income each month?"

"Does she have any allergies?"

"Is she adopted?"

"What are her sensory issues?"

"Does she do lactaid or soy milk?"

"Are her parents involved?"


See how I sort of feel obligated to answer all of the questions, because I can't tell which ones you are REQUIRED to ask, and which ones are just out of curiosity?

And then I leave your office feeling as though my child's privacy has been ripped open in front of her, and that I've been complicit in the process. I leave your office feeling like I've shared far too much in front of her than I am comfortable with.

So I kindly ask that at our next appointment, only ask me questions that are required in order for us to receive our checks. I am contacting your supervisor to request that they train the staff (no matter how nice and innocent their questions seem) to acknowledge that adoption and foster care require a certain amount of privacy and respect. That not every parent wants to talk about the details of adoption in front of their children. And that as foster parents, we must maintain confidentiality regarding some of the details of our children's cases.

And please be aware that we as parents have the right to disclose or keep confidential the details we want to about our children's histories and lives.

Thank you for wanting a conversation about adoption. But please, make sure it's an appropriate time and place to be having this discussion. And just a hint, right in front of my child is not really appropriate.



Sincerely,

The "Real" mom





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