Motherhood Monday – Kim R.

This Monday brings Kim R. to the blog for this week’s Motherhood Monday!!

Meet Kim

Kim and her husband, Dave, head up the adult discipleship ministry at our church. My freshman year of college, they came and spoke at my college ministry’s spring retreat, and they are good friends with my former college minister and his wife. When we got to our new church and connected the dots, it was such a cool way to see the Lord’s hand in our circumstances. Kim is one of the most hospitable people I have ever gotten to be around. She is very intentional with her time and with the people around her. As she will explain later, their family has a lot of rhythms in place. Getting to know Kim over the past few months has been such a treat for me! I absolutely love Kim’s story. You won’t want to miss her motherhood journey!

The Interview

1. Explain your “motherhood journey.” Including your kid(s) and their age(s)

So my name is Kim, and I have three kids. I have a 13-year-old, a 10-year-old, and a nine-year-old.  My husband and I waited five years after being married before we started to think about having kids.  Once we started trying, I was diagnosed with PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome.  This news was a little bit shocking to me because leading up to this point I just had no clue. I remember sitting in the doctor’s office after an ultrasound and the technician looking at me and saying, “You’re going to have a hard time having children if you can have children at all.”  I was devastated, but willing to do anything to begin creating a family.

Our first child was conceived on Clomid after a few months, and it seemed my body responded to that treatment.  I was thrilled, and nine months later we welcomed our first daughter, Emma, into the world. We had always wanted to have more than just one child, so when Emma turn two we decided to start trying for our second child thinking we would use Clomid again and things would be fine.   A few months turned into a few years of struggling with infertility. My body was no longer responding to Clomid or other low-cost infertility treatments. We had decided we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on other options, but after two years of trying we were drained and tired.  I remember being so frustrated with God because I was totally open to other ways of adding to our family but I just had this heart desire to birth another child. I remember telling God that He either needed to help me conceive one more time or to take this desire away. I would be fine with either outcome, but living in the limbo was awful.

We had contacted a local attorney to begin the process of a domestic adoption. Also during that time, our church had a bunch of women that were struggling with infertility. They had a service one Sunday where they asked anyone struggling infertility to come up and be prayed for. I was very hesitant since that week I had gotten news from our infertility doctor that they had done everything they could do and my body was just not producing any eggs, but we went up and were prayed for anyway. I left still feeling discouraged and without hope but pressing forward into looking at adoption. Two weeks later, I began waking up in the morning feeling very different as if something was off. From that moment, I just knew that I was pregnant even though I knew it was not a possibility.  I took a pregnancy test, and it came out positive. I remember calling my infertility doctor saying that I thought I was pregnant, to which they said, “Well come on in and we will check it out, but you were just here and we don’t think that’s possible but we will look.”

Sure enough, when I went in for the official test, I was pregnant. My doctor looked at me and said, “This doesn’t make sense, even from your scans there’s nowhere showing where the egg came from.”  We choose to believe that God intervened and, through a miracle, allowed me to conceive. Our second daughter was born nine months later. We named her Izzie, which is another form of the name Isaac, which means laughter. There was much laughter in our household when we realized we would have one more child.

Our journey to growing our family didn’t end with Izzie. Through all of the struggles with infertility, God certainly laid it on our hearts the passion for adoption. When Izzie was one, I took a trip to Haiti where I met a little boy named Frankie, who at the time was nine months old. I came home from that trip telling my husband that I thought we needed to start an adoption through Haiti.  Haiti was always special for me because in high school I took a trip there in a difficult season in life, and it totally changed me. I’ve always had a heart for the country, and it was so neat to see how God would open doors for our third child, Frankie, to join our family.

The adoption process through Haiti took a long time. We knew it would be at least a four-year-journey to get him home, but we were okay with that. Two years into our adoption process with Frankie, the earthquake hit. He was in Port-au-Prince at the time. The home where he was staying with missionaries and other children sustained much damage, but everyone was safe. During that time President Obama granted humanitarian parole to anyone that was in the adoption process in Haiti. Two weeks later our son was flown on a military plane into Orlando, Florida, where we flew to pick him up.  We went from thinking we had two more years of waiting for him, and within two weeks he was in our home.  From that day, we have been a family of five.

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The Rhodes family of 5! Picture provided by Kim

2.What is the biggest lesson (or 2 or 3) that you’ve learned from being a mom?

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is, no matter what season you’re in as a parent or a mom, embrace it. Don’t wish for the next season. Be present in the season you’re currently in.  In the early years of newborns and toddlers, so many hours of my day were spent around surviving and waiting until they got a little older. I wish I could go back and tell myself, “Enjoy it more.” Be present more because the season does pass, and it passes by so quickly.

So, if you’re waiting on your first child to arrive, go out on dates, take a trip, go to a lot of movies. If you’ve got young ones in your home, know it’s okay that you can’t get out and do things that other people can do. Sometimes you have to miss things because the kids just can’t take it with their nap schedule or the stage their in.  Don’t let resentment built up and continue to imagine what could be. Find contentment in what is.

3. Share one (or 2 or 3) funny or sweet stories that make it all worth it.

I probably have 1 million stories.  This question is a hard one for me.  I think today looking around my table with three kids that are now fully functioning. They can buckle their own seat belts, they can wipe their own butts. If they’re hungry, they can go to the pantry or the refrigerator and figure out what they want to eat.  I think that’s the sweetness of it all. Waking up each day finding ourselves in family together and being thankful and realizing it’s by the grace of God that we get to be who we are.  I think that’s my sweetest story.

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The Rhodes kiddos. Picture provided by Kim

4.What do you think the biggest challenge of being a mom is?

One of my biggest challenges as a mom is to still be who God created me to be while also helping each of my kids with their own personalities and passions to be who God created them to be.  I want them to look back on their time in our home as the Rhodes family and feel like we created mission and rhythms.  I want them to value things that are important, and I want them to live with a kingdom passion to know they can go out into the world and do anything that God puts on their heart for them to do.  Some days I think I do well at equipping them, other days I feel like I fail miserably. That’s one of my biggest struggles right now.

Another challenge is not feeling guilty for taking time out for myself.  Regardless of what season your kids are in, it’s really important to take care of yourself first and then your kids.  So, if you need some time during the week to be alone, then leverage your resources to make that happen. If you need to physically exercise or get a workout in, make a time and resources available to allow you to be able to do that. If you need conversation with other people during a day of your week, make time and leverage your resources to allow you to do that. And when you are in those moments where you’re investing in just yourself, enjoy it. Don’t feel guilty. You will be a better mom because of it. You deserve it.

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Their dog, Louie, snuck in this one! Picture provided by Kim

5. If you could write a “job description” of being a mom, what would it say?

Under paid CEO of the Rhodes family.

6. What’s something from your family growing up that you think affects your parenting or the way you raise your child(ren)?

So growing up I lived in a home where my mom wasn’t very organized. Our house was just always cluttered and you could pull open a drawer and there be crumbs. Part of my personality is that I like things clean and organized, minimal and efficient. My husband always jokes with me that if somethings not useful it gets thrown out or sent to Goodwill. He often worries one day he’ll wake up at Goodwill :-).

But it is interesting it seems that I’ve become opposite of what I grew up in. Because that’s what I desire so in my parenting today, I don’t want to live too structured to where my kids don’t feel like they have freedom. So finding that balance is a thing I often work really hard to do, to have both structure and spontaneity inside of our home, work and play.

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Another picture including Louie! Picture provided by Kim

7. If you knew someone who just found out they were pregnant with their first baby, what would be your two pieces of advice for them? A practical tip and a piece of wisdom.

Wisdom – Rhythm leads to predictability, predictability leads to security, security leads to significance, and significance leads to success.

So, my first big advice as you begin to have your family is to set rhythms in place for your family and children.  I loved using baby wise because it was so helpful to just set some rhythms, and even if we got away from those on certain days, I always knew where to return to.  Our children, whether they’re newborns or teens, need a sense of rhythm and predictability in their lives to orbit from. That’s been hopefully the biggest contribution I’ve given to our family in being successful.

My second encouragement would be to always, in whatever season of life you find yourself in, find someone who’s older and wiser than you and just ask them questions about parenting and what has worked for them. That has been so helpful in each stage of my parenting journey. I always try to find another woman who I respect, whose life I look at and I would like to imitate and just asked for advice. It doesn’t mean you have to follow it, but just always being open to ask others what they think is a very powerful tool that I think sometimes as women we can get insecure and stop asking. I think we miss out on a lot when we don’t seek wisdom from other people that we trust.

My last piece of advice is to know who you are as a family. We worked really hard as a family to create a family mission statement, what it means to be the Rhodes family, and we have a list of five values that as the Rhodes family are the values that we have for one another. We truly try to live into those every day.  It’s probably been the most important thing that has been the biggest foundation for our family. It’s definitely worth fighting for your family language. I often encourage many young moms to create these for their family.

Here’s what they are just in case you wanted to know:

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Picture provided by Kim.

Practically – Start going out to eat a lot. Go watch movies at a movie theater. Take a trip. Do you things outside the home that you want to do because the next few years you are going to be more restricted.

Buy butt paste.  Invest in some good nipple cream if you’re going to nurse. Ask some other new moms what their favorite product is and why.  Get ready for Baby Einstein videos, the Wiggles, and miss Patty Cake was also a fun one around our home back in the day.

Wrap-Up

I look up to Kim so much, and I loved so many of her words here. When she talks about rhythms and family values, that is something that she really does live out with her family. She and her husband, Dave, teach those things to adults and families at our church, and it has been so cool to see that be the way they live their life, as Sam and I try to do something similar with our young family. One of my favorite things she talked about is embracing where you’re at in your motherhood journey. So often I find myself looking into the future, anticipating something else, but I don’t always look around at where I am and appreciate it for what it is.

Thank you so much for answering my questions, Kim!! Your life and your words encourage and inspire me as a young mom!

What was your favorite thing that Kim said? Do you have a question you want the Motherhood Monday moms to answer? Comment on this post or e-mail me at openhandsopenhome@gmail.com. Know a mom that needs some encouragement or who would benefit from reading Kim’s words? Send them a link to this post! The goal of these posts is to reach out, encourage, and empathize with moms all around.

 

Motherhood Monday – Ashley C.

Happy Monday, friend! It’s time for another mom to take the plunge and answer some of my motherhood questions. This week’s mom is Ashley C.

Meet Ashley

Ashley is one of my husband, Sam’s, cousins. While we don’t get to see each other all that often, it is always a treat when we do. Ashley is so sweet and extremely thoughtful. The love she has for her little one, Isaac, is so evident. As you’ll read below about Ashley’s story, we have loved seeing the Lord’s hand in their family. Sam and I have prayed for them as they have been faithful in seeing the Lord fulfill their passion and desire. I love seeing stories of the Lord’s faithfulness in those around me, and Ashley’s story is definitely one of those stories.

The Interview

1. Explain your “motherhood journey.” Including your kid(s) and their age(s)

Not long after Micah and I were married we started trying to have a family. Unfortunately we soon discovered that this would not come easy to us. We spent the next 7-8 years working with fertility specialists, trying on our own, and just taking breaks to enjoy our marriage. In 2014 after lots of prayer we felt that God was telling us our family would be built through adoption. I immediately told God, “just not foster care!”  I just couldn’t imagine that for us. The thought of loving a child and then possibly losing them was just too much for me to bear. BUT God had other plans. We had all of our paper work filled out and ready to submit to an adoption agency and we just felt something was off. God was putting foster care everywhere in our paths. We had a precious boy in our Awana class at church that was in foster care, some friends from church has just adopted their two children through the foster system, and another friend from church actually worked at our local DHR as a social worker for foster children. We just couldn’t get away from it. So after more prayer we went into a meeting with our friend from church at DHR and left knowing without a doubt that this is what we were supposed to do. From there we applied to be foster/adoptive parents, took the required classes, readied our home and had numerous home studies and back ground checks. Then we waited. We were approved and liscensed as foster parents in November 2014. We received the call that forever changed our lives on January 29th, 2015. It’s a BOY!! I will never forget that phone call or the first time we met our precious boy. He was 6 months old and absolutely perfect. He is now 2 1/2. We have spent the past two years having home visits, birth parent visits, and court dates. Its been a roller coaster of emotions but so worth it. He brings us so much joy and we know without a doubt he was meant to be our son. We got to officially make him ours December 14th, 2016. We are so thankful for the seasons of unknowns and waiting. It has tested our faith and made us stronger. God never once left us, and we are forever changed by our journey.

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Y’all. This one just makes me tear up. Bless the Lord! Picture provided by Ashley

2.What is the biggest lesson (or 2 or 3) that you’ve learned from being a mom?

Being Isaac’s mommy is the most rewarding, amazing thing I have ever had the honor of doing, but it can be the toughest too. As a mom I have awesome days where I feel like I have this mom thing figured out and I’m rocking it. Then there are the days I cry after I put him to bed because I feel like I am messing it all up. Luckily our littles love us no matter what. I have learned to embrace the good and the bad days because even in the midst of the really tough days I can always find joy. It’s in his smile, hugs, his little voice saying “I love you mommy!”

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Little man! Picture provided by Ashley

3. Share one (or 2 or 3) funny or sweet stories that make it all worth it.

Every time I pick Isaac up from somewhere he has been without me (school, church, family), he always greets me with an excited, “Hi Mommy!!” and a hug around the neck. Time always pauses for just a moment when we look at each other, hug, and say “I love you.”

4.What do you think the biggest challenge of being a mom is?

It’s the mom guilt. As a working mom, I miss out on a lot, and that’s really hard. I want to be there for everything, but that just hasn’t been apart of God’s plan for our lives right now. But we are so blessed with the daycare/school he attends. He loves his teacher and his friends, and he has learned SO much. He amazes me everday with how smart he is.

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Big boy! Picture provided by Ashley

5. If you could write a “job description” of being a mom, what would it say?

  • Story teller
  • Chef
  • Boo-boo kisser
  • Play mate
  • Discipliner
  • Tickle monster.
  • Best Job Ever.

6. What’s something from your family growing up that you think affects your parenting or the way you raise your child(ren)?

I don’t have one big thing that stands out. It’s lots of little things weaved throughout that I notice as we are loving and teaching our little guy. Something I will say or do that hits me out of nowhere my dad or mom did that or said that as I was growing up. The one thing I HOPE to pass on/instill in Isaac that my parents did in me is how to love others. We were brought up to love everyone regardless of race, social standing, differences, ect. I am so thankful to them for this.
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I could eat him up. Picture provided by Ashley

7. If you knew someone who just found out they were pregnant with their first baby, what would be your two pieces of advice for them? A practical tip and a piece of wisdom.

Enjoy every day. Don’t be so hard on yourself. The house, laundry, dirty dishes truly will be still be there the next day. Enjoy your baby!

When you find a bottle/sippy cup under the couch or seat in the car ( and you will) just toss it. Its not worth it. I promise.

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The sweetest little family. Picture provided by Ashley

Wrap-Up

As I was reading over Ashley’s answers, her trust in the Lord’s plan is so encouraging! Like she said in the answer to her motherhood journey, her faith has been tested, but how beautiful it is to see her on the other side! Our Heavenly Father has a plan for each and every one of us, and that includes our family, and we can TRUST Him in that. Ashley’s story just reminds me of how faithful He is, and I love it!

Thank you so much, Ashley!! We have loved watching your family’s story play out so far, and your trust in the Lord makes it even more beautiful to see.

What was your favorite thing that Ashley said? Do you have a question you want the Motherhood Monday moms to answer? Comment on this post or e-mail me at openhandsopenhome@gmail.com. Know a mom that needs some encouragement or can relate to Ashley’s story? Send them a link to this post! The goal of these posts is to reach out, encourage, and empathize with moms all around.

A Picture of the Gospel

Adoption is such a picture of the gospel. I cannot separate the two in my mind, honestly. Jesus chose the cross and crucifixion, so that we could be adopted into the family of God, the family that our sin had separated us from. Jesus became sin, so that our sin could no longer keep us from having a place at the table and a place in the family. And when He defeated death by rising again, He sealed our place there forever into eternity, so that one day, we can all sit around said table at a family dinner and praise the Lord for the plan He always knew He would carry out to rescue and rebuild His family.

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” – Galatians 4:4-7, emphasis mine

This is the good news. This is what we can celebrate. This is what we can be thankful for, but more than anything, this is something that we have to share and carry out in our own lives. Now, I know that not everyone is called to adopt. There are people that carry this out in the most incredible ways that I could never even imagine, but I know that the Lord has called me to share this good news by modeling it in my home, in my family.

Sam and I have always wanted to adopt. Even before we were engaged, we talked about it and knew it was something we both wanted and felt called to do. We have since talked about the family that we want someday. Maybe 4 kids total, definitely one adopted, maybe two, maybe the third one, or the last one, but as Sam says, “we’re free-spirited”.

I always thought having kids was a long way away, but then about a year ago, I found out that I was pregnant with Henry. “A long way away” came much faster than I ever thought, but like I said, we’re free-spirited, right??

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Since moving to Georgia and starting to attend our church, we have seen many families that foster children and have adopted children, and it makes my heart so, so happy. Every time the subject of adoption comes up, my heart does a little flutter. I know it is something that I am passionate about and called to. The Lord has deepened this passion over time, but it, too, has always felt a long way away.

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Henry’s dedication at church!

Now, I’m not saying that it’s not still a long way away, but the Lord has been stirring my heart more than ever before. A couple weeks ago, Sam and I sat in a presentation about a ministry that a couple in our church heads up that sponsors orphanages in another country among other things. During the prayer time after the presentation, I started tearing up thinking about the children without parents, without a family, without a true home. Then as I was scrolling through Facebook today, I came across an article about a family that ended up adopting twins. While reading the article and watching the video included, I found myself crying before I even realized what the premise of it all was. Adoption has gripped me. The Lord has softened my heart to a place of wondering and questioning if maybe its closer than “a long way away.”

So, this is what is on my heart today and in this season. Will we be adopting in the near future? I have no idea, but I do know that the Lord will carry out His plan however He sees fit and in whatever timing He sees fit, and I am so excited about seeing it unfold.