Strong Women Stories

I’m lucky.  I have been surrounded by some pretty strong women my whole life.  I want to start a movement where we showcase the strong women in our lives.  I’ll show you what I mean…

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My memom, grandfather, and my dad when he was a baby.  1950’s.

This is my “Memom.”  I know it’s not a typical name for a grandmother, but she wasn’t a typical grandmother either.  She was a mother of 5 kids, my dad being the oldest of the 5.  When my grandfather was 40, he passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack, leaving my memom alone to raise 5 children, ranging from ages 5 to 17.  Not long after he passed, my memom invited anyone she knew who had experienced a loss in their family over for Thanksgiving.  She was a widow herself, yet she served each of the families who came to her home and every family left with a pie.  I didn’t know that story about her until after she had passed.  My other grandmother had lost her 18 year old daughter and was one of the women who left that Thanksgiving with a pie on her lap from my memom.  A piece of my memom lives on.  I bet that life wasn’t easy for my memom, but it didn’t keep her from rolling up her sleeves and serving others.  I’m thankful I come from people like her.  She was strong, even when she must have felt weak.

So, who is a strong woman in your life?  Let’s start sharing their stories.  Join my challenge!  Here’s how:

  1. Post a picture on Instagram of a strong woman in your life.  Tell us what makes her strong.
  2. Tag me on instagram using rachel.removetheveil
  3. Use the hashtag #strongwomenstories
  4. Follow me on Instagram.
  5. Search  the hashtag “strongwomenstories” and get ready to be inspired.

 

Mommy Messed Up….. On Purpose.

Mommy Messed Up……  On Purpose.

I.  Lost.  It.  “It” being my sanity.  The event that tipped me over the edge that day wasn’t major.  It wasn’t major at all.  I wasn’t hurt and nothing terrible had happened to me or anyone I loved.  Up to this point, I had made a million mistakes as a mom.  Many were unintentional – just “mistakes.”  There’s a difference between mistakes and sins.  Mistakes are exactly that.  They happen on accident, because we don’t know any better.  I’m willing to bet that millions of us moms are willing to accept responsibility for our mistakes, but how often do we call out our own sins?  Or when we do, do we rename those our “mistakes” as well?  I don’t think “sins” and “mistakes” are in the same category.

The silly and petty thing that sent me over the edge was my 2 year old.  She had been potty trained for about 6 months when one day, she just started peeing her pants again.  Constantly.  I was watching kids in my home at this point and it was a brand new thing.  Looking back now, I know she was going through a potty training regression, which is extremely common when there is any kind of change in the home.  For 3 days, she peed her pants at least once per hour.  It blew my mind.  Potty training is a lot of hard work and I worked HARD at getting her trained.  She had been doing so well and all of a sudden, none of my rewards or consequences were working at all.

After peeing her pants for the hundredth time, I put her on the toilet, grabbed the sticker chart I had made for her on the wall, and tore it to pieces in front of her while yelling at her.  She looked at me with eyes full of tears, cowered, and cried.  It was at that moment when I thought, “I’ve just traumatized my child.  What have I done…”  I knew better.  I’ve taught kids all over and from all walks of life and I KNEW behavior management.  I didn’t care, and I lost it.

Part of me wanted to justify my behavior.  I’d worked so hard and I knew she was capable.  I was going through a lot with quitting my job, being a work at home mom, living in a new area that I didn’t know, and struggling financially.  All of those things were explanations for why I was stressed, but they weren’t excuses for bad behavior.

A small voice inside of me urged me to hold her, tell her I was sorry, and tell her I was totally wrong.  So that’s what I did.  I listened to the small voice and I held my small child on my lap in the bathroom floor.  I cried and I told her that Mommy was angry and Mommy was wrong.  Mommy would help her and Mommy won’t hurt her ears anymore.  I asked my little 2 year old girl to forgive me even though she didn’t have a clue what that word meant.  I knew she grasped the concept of forgiveness better than I did when she put her little arms around my neck and told me she loved me.  Isn’t that exactly what Jesus does with us?  Little ones are often times quick to forgive.  I don’t want my kids to lose that.

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I think a lot of us were raised to respect our authority and that part of that was accepting that our authority was always “right.”  I’ve had many teachers, leaders, and so forth who never said they were sorry and if they did, it was often for a “mistake” rather than being deliberately in the wrong.  It’s kind of hard sometimes to admit when we’re wrong to our children.  We want them to think highly of us and to think of us as their model for doing what’s right.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that admitting and taking responsibility for when we are wrong, even when it’s embarrassing, is far more admirable than always being right.  It also models for our children the importance of accepting responsibility and learning and growing from our own shortcomings.

Admitting when we are wrong to our kids is good for all of us.  It teaches them to have mercy and forgiveness, models for them how to take responsibility for their actions, shows them humility, and how to have a growth mindset.  For us, we get a big dose of humility and a chance to learn and grow from our mistakes.  I’ve had the most growth and reflection in my life when I’ve messed up.  When I do something perfectly, I don’t have anything else to perfect.

Remove the veil.

I’m still doing things wrong.  They aren’t always “mistakes” either.  I nag my kids.  I spend too much time on social media and not enough time with them.  I don’t always show them grace.  A few weekends ago, I wanted my middle child to learn that the way she was talking to adults wasn’t ok.  I gave her consequences in an attempt to make her learn her behavior wasn’t acceptable.  In all honesty, it wasn’t acceptable.  But instead of focusing on motivating her to learn and grow, I focused on the punishment.  I could see my lively child beginning to change, but it wasn’t for the better.  I heard her crying in her room and I asked her why she was crying.  She told me it was because she knew she was a mean person and she didn’t want to be mean anymore, but didn’t know how not to be.

What if I had just left her to her own thoughts and had never gone back to check on my 5 year old?  What if all I cared about was that long-running consequence.  Would I have helped to destroy her character instead of building it up?

At that moment, I remembered the sticker chart incident.  I went and held her and I told her that I was sorry I left her alone.  I told her that I was like her when I was her age too and that I still struggle to respond out of love sometimes and instead, react out of anger.  I told her that I wanted us to help each other.  I told her that her behavior wasn’t ok, but that mine wasn’t either.  I told her there was nothing she could ever do that would make me stop loving her.

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The “spice” of our family.  Both of us.

I want my kids to see a solid parent.  I want them to look at me and think I’m strong and that I work hard.  That doesn’t mean hiding my struggles.  In fact, I think it means the opposite.  My husband and I try not to argue in front of our kids, but one of the most pivotal times in our marriage was when he told our daughters that he and I got in an argument and that he said something hurtful to me.  He told them why it made me sad, how it made him feel, and how he should have responded.  He was real with them.  Mommy and Daddy weren’t perfect and we didn’t have a perfect, fairtytale relationship.  We didn’t always see eye to eye and we can’t hide our conflict.  We have to learn from it and be better.  We used this incident to teach our children about conflict, humility, forgiveness, and honesty.  My daughters never thought poorly of him either.  They respected him more, and so did I.

My kids are still young.  That means I have a lot more sins and mistakes ahead of me.  I’m going to try to be better, but I’m also going to try to always be real.  I’m their mom.  I think the reason they see me folding laundry and washing dishes, working at their school, and taking them with me on errands 90% of the time (rather than seeing someone who is pampered and polished)  is because they need to see women who work hard and serve.   I don’t want them to grow up entitled.  I want them to roll up their sleeves and serve the ones they love.  I want them to love what they do and work hard.  I want them to mess up and grow.  I’m removing my veil of “perfect mom” and hoping they will remove their veils too, knowing that growth and learning has some of the best impact when it stems from humility and truth.

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My crew.

Body Image.

I’m all about transformations.  I’m awe struck when I see a home that was once a shack looking like a perfect farmhouse (all hail, Joanna Gaines), an incredible weight loss story that rivals The Biggest Loser, a drug addict who is now sober, or the battered and beaten who have overcome and claimed victory.  We read these stories, see these results, and we can’t help but feel happy and inspired for the ones who are living on the other side of the often times painful journey.

For some reason, it’s so easy to be happy for them, but to convince myself that it’s not for me.

Typing that makes me feel and sound ridiculous.

Until I was 9, I never struggled with body image.  What I wore and how I wore it was totally based on what I thought was fun and whatever others thought had absolutely no bearing on whether or not I chose what I chose.

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Matching with my bestie.
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Messy hair, play clothes, didn’t care.
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First perm,  “Do you want your bangs permed too?” Me: “Um, YES.”

In fourth grade, we started reading a book about a girl with an eating disorder.  The book talked about how thin she became and how sick and unhealthy she was due to her disorder.  A boy in my class raised his hand and asked the teacher, “Does Rachel throw up her food, too?”  I remember being a little girl and wondering why he thought I was like the girl in the book.  I remembered our conversations about the book – how sickly and thin.  It was at that time when I started examining myself in the mirror everyday and first began comparing my body to other girls in my class.  I was 9.

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4th grade.  My shirt said, “PANTS” and the 80’s was jealous of my hair.

It didn’t stop there.  As I grew taller in stature, struggled with acne, crooked teeth, and bushy eyebrows, I also had a general lack of knowledge on how to dress, fix my hair, or apply makeup.  I know this all seems like normal middle school struggles that so many of us can relate to, but I wish it wasn’t “normal” to feel ugly.  Words hurt, and I can vividly remember so many of those words.

“I would rather be overweight than to look like you.”

“Why do you even bother to wear a bra?  You don’t have anything to fill it out with anyway.”

“Have you ever heard of a thing called tweezers?”

“You have no curves.”

“You’re not as pretty as _______________.”

“You’re too pale.”

“You’re too skinny.”

“You look sick.”

“You have bird legs.”

“Are those pimples, or chicken pox on your forehead?”

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Middle School.  Fake smile, real hot-rolled hair.

I’m lucky that I had some really good friends, a great church, and very loving parents, but even all of that couldn’t protect me from the hurtful words I endured.  Girls who were my friends as a child all of a sudden would not speak to me in the hallways anymore.  They were popular, and I wasn’t.  I knew in my heart, even at a young age, that popularity wasn’t everything, so I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my morals for a chance at being recognized by a cute boy or a popular girl.  In some ways, I was really strong.  But sometimes, I would get off the bus after school, walk to the side lot beside my house, sit in the grass and cry.

Middle school was hard.  At the same time I was getting remarks on my poor looks, I can also remember being in a 7th grade social studies class when a boy first grabbed me inappropriately and laughed.  I remember being upset about it and embarrassed.  I didn’t tell on him.  I should have, but I didn’t.  Someone said, “That’s just what guys do.”  I was 12.

9th grade came and so did highschool.  I was embarrassed to ever wear shorts because I knew I’d get made fun of for my bird legs.  I had braces that year, and even though I was missing a canine tooth behind those braces, I was ready to go to high school since that meant getting out of middle school.  I didn’t get asked to any dances that year.  Almost all (if not all) of my friends did.  I stayed home and watched TV while my friends experienced that first dance without me.  I was 14.

Something happened over the summer of my 9th grade year.  I got my braces off, and I gained a little weight.  I got better at applying the makeup and I started to look a little more like a growing woman instead of an overgrown kid.  When I went back to school for the fall, a boy told me on the first day of school that he had to look twice to realize it was me.

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My 15 year old self going to a dance with one of my best friends growing up, Todd.

For a while, I felt like most of the comments I received were based on my looks.  How I’d gotten prettier, or how I’d “blossomed.”  I was introduced to a beautiful tool called a hair straightener and I’d learned that there were other lipstick colors other than “rust.”  As far as appearances go, life was better.  I remember after dating Micah for a few months, we were going through a box of my old things and we found my freshman badge from high school.  He saw it and said, “Who is this person, and why do you have her badge?”  I said, “Read the name.”  He couldn’t believe it was me.  I looked totally different.  I’d put a picture of that below, but I’m pretty sure I burned that thing years ago.

I had a serious high school boyfriend, but it didn’t keep boys from making comments about my body.  Some of those comments were meant to be flattering, but they were often inappropriate.  Some were still rude.

“You have the hairiest arms I have ever seen.”

“Your hair is in a pony tail.  You must be on your period because you obviously didn’t feel like trying today.”

I was 16.

In college, I was told by strangers frequently that I looked just like Jennifer Aniston.  Going from 8th grade Rachel to Rachel from Friends was quite the transition.  I spent a lot of time visiting the tanning bed and I never left my dorm room without applying eye liner.  I got comments on my looks frequently.

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I’m going to remove my veil now and tell you that this boost in encouragement from those around me also turned into a boost in my ego.  I began to focus too much on my looks and I liked the attention I received around my physical transformation.

Then, something weird happened.  I went back home over the holidays and saw a family member I didn’t see regularly.  This person put her arm around my waist and pinched my side saying, “I can’t believe you, out of all people, have put on some weight since going away to college.  You used to be so skinny.”

Used to be?  Do I look bad?

I watched a video of me teaching shortly after for my student teaching assignment and all I could focus on was my mid-section.

Guys, I was 5’8″ and weighed 112 pounds.  In other words, I was tiny.  So tiny.  I pretended to be confident.  I’d take selfies with friends, I’d spend so much time trying on outfits and putting on makeup and I’d still compare myself to the girls across the hall from me in the dorms – never feeling like I was measuring up.  I was super insecure and pretended not to be.  I was 19.

Time went on.  I got married.  During my first year of teaching, I gained 20 pounds.  I was  extremely stressed with my new job.  I was down on myself a lot and the extra 20 pounds of weight was on top of about an extra 20 pounds of stress.  It was my first year of marriage too.  That was hard.  Neither of us were perfect.  We were 21.

A few years later, I had my first child.  During pregnancy, everyone told me how cute I looked pregnant.  Confidence boost again.  I felt good about how I looked when I sported that baby bump.

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Then, she was born.  My cute bump turned into what looked like a deflated balloon and the comments shifted from, “You are so cute with that bump,” to, “‘She spits up a lot.  Do you think it’s because you are eating too much dairy?  You should probably cut back.”  I was often met with questions on my parenting and the choices I had made about my “birth plan,” choices I had made regarding schedules or routines for my new baby, and a huge dose of hormones that left me feeling inadequate and small.  I was 25.

In the meantime, I got better and went on to have 2 more children.  After my third child was born, I went back to work and was also pumping a ton of breastmilk.  He was sick with a rare viral disease and I was a stressed out, working mom with a lot of insecurities.  I was struggling in several areas of my life.  I lost so much weight from nursing and getting too busy to pay attention to the food I was not eating.  I went down to 109 pounds at 5’8″.

“Are you ok?  You are so thin it worries me.”

“Are you depressed?  You look so frail.”

After I quit nursing, I started putting some of the weight back on and I started eating healthier and working out.  I was doing much better and getting much healthier.  My little boy was on the mend and so was I.  I was 31.

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I began really feeling led to offer myself as a surrogate for my sister in law.  As we went through that process, I began a lot of hormones in order to prepare my body for IVF.  In a matter of 5 months, I gained 15 pounds.  The pregnancy took and I gained another 30.  But this time, I didn’t care.

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I looked at my body in a completely different way.  My body was carrying the life of another so that someone else could have a baby to call her own.  I watched my body change and I did it as an act of service for a child that wasn’t mine and for a sweet couple who would have otherwise not had an opportunity to hear the pitter-patter of tiny little feet in their home.  All of a sudden, my body wasn’t mine and what I was doing wasn’t for me.  As uncomfortable as it was to grow and swell, I was finally comfortable with this body I had.  I received a ton of encouragement about my body, but in a completely different way.

“What you are doing is amazing.”

“I’m so inspired by what you are doing for your sister in law and brother in law.”

I began to think that I’ve been viewing my body wrong all along.  Do I look at my daughters and make statements about how their bodies look?  Or do I make statements about how what they are doing with their bodies inspires and amazes me?

I want to be amazed at what my body can do – whether that is carrying my own child, carrying the child of another, doing a pull up, or hiking to the top of a mountain.  Our bodies are described as our “temple.”  What am I putting in that temple and how am I using it?

 

I’ve never been “athletic.”  I was told that I wasn’t by my middle school PE teacher and I believed it.  I was one of the last ones picked in the lineup in gym class and I wasn’t the “sports type.”  For this reason, I never tried out for a team, got anxious anytime I was given the opportunity to play physical games of any kind, and so forth.  I wasn’t made to be an athlete, but I was made to be healthy and to try my best.  I’m working on being stronger and I’m not letting an old definition of me get in the way this time.

I had never been a surrogate, either.  When I decided to do it, I came up against some opposition from a few people, but I knew God was calling me to do this and I trusted that he would not only get me through it, but that He’d bless me through it.  My body did something amazing.  I wasn’t made to be a surrogate, but I was made to serve others and to use my body for good.

Here’s the honest truth.  I’m inspired and empowered by my recent journey to believe that I can overcome the barriers.  I don’t have to label myself with the comments I received about my body and athletic abilities in the past.  I can do anything.  I’m going to stop comparing myself to the other women out there and I’m going to start comparing where I am today to where I was yesterday.  Am I doing what I can to be healthy?  Am I pushing myself physically to become stronger?

This whole physical transformation that so many of us long for will not fulfill us until the physical transformation brings about a spiritual transformation.

I’m making baby steps.  I’m writing this to tell you about my issues and letting you know how not perfect I am.  I’m going to the grocery store with no makeup on and my hair pulled up in a pony tail – not caring whether or not it looks like I “tried” today.  I’m letting my daughters see my imperfections and I’m paying more attention to the words I’m using to affirm them, trying to focus much more on the hard work and effort they put into a task rather than the way they look.

I’m still struggling too.  I tell my husband that I’m sorry I don’t look like I did when he married me 10 years ago, when he reminds me that my body has done some pretty amazing and admirable things these past 10 years.  I analyze my figure and change my clothes when I think a part of me is emphasized that shouldn’t be or when I’m afraid what other people will think.  I’ve got to stop sucking it in and start living it out – being comfortable in the body I’m in.

I’m a work in progress, and my body image is a hundred times better than what it was, but I’ve still got work to do.  I’ve seen 26 year olds who have had tummy tucks, implants, Botox, and lip injections and they look beautiful and happy.  I see these women and say things to myself like, “A lot of women do it these days…  I wonder how much this procedure would cost…”  I compare myself to these women.  Ultimately, I know that for me, going through a procedure to alter my appearance won’t fulfill me or ultimately bring me joy.  I know how much I admire those who aren’t afraid to age gracefully.  My Mamaw had the softest hands I had ever felt.  She used those hands to knead the dough for the rolls she made for anyone who wanted to join her at her table.  She used those hands to work on her farm to help provide for her family.  She used those hands to hold my sweaty little face and tell me she loved me.  She had the most beautiful hands I’d ever seen, sun spots, wrinkles, and all.  I loved those hands.

So, here’s my plea to all of you who might be reading this.  What do you value in a person?  We cannot stop the aging process.  With time, our bodies will age, but our character can continue to grow.  Let’s start looking at our bodies differently.  Let’s be inspired to challenge ourselves physically and be empowered to use our bodies for good.  Let’s worry less about the bathing suit and focus more on the fun we can have when we jump into the pool with our kids.  Let’s stop comparing ourselves to the bodies we see on social media and let’s love the skin we are in.  Let’s focus on health instead of skinny and strong instead of clothing sizes.  Let’s take care of our bodies so that we can be healthy and live life to the fullest, but let’s not allow our appearances to determine our contentment.  Let’s stop commenting so much on people’s looks and start commenting more on their hard work and character.  What’s more beautiful…  well applied makeup and perfectly curled hair?  Or, the friend who is picking up your groceries when everyone in your house is sick?  I love makeup, and I love doing fun things with my hair, but a heart for service will always trump the latest fashion trends.

As I become older, I’m becoming stronger.  So here’s my transformation.  It might look backwards to some of you, but this transformation feels so good, and I’m still transforming.    Here’s 32.

 

 

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My Husband’s Response to Surrogacy

When I met Micah, I was 15 years old.  We met at a Fazoli’s in Ashland, KY in our American Eagle gear with breadsticks in hand.  I doubt he looked at me back then and thought, “This is going to be the mother of my children,” let alone, “This chick is going to look great carrying my sister’s baby in her womb one day.”  But here we are, 17 years later with a ton of memories, a used mini van, 3 kids of our own, and a story to tell.

I’ve received tons of questions from people who are curious about surrogacy.  I’ve talked on the phone with curious women who were contemplating surrogacy, but unsure of how their spouse might respond.  Micah and I decided to do this video for anyone who might be curious about how this impacted our marriage and how we supported each other along the way.

Feel free to check this out and share it, pin it, and ask us more questions.

3 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Becoming a Surrogate

I recently had the opportunity to be a surrogate mother for my sweet little niece, Adalyn.  Soon, I will write a lot more about that whole journey, but for now, I wanted to share a few things about surrogacy that I wish I had known ahead of time for those of you who are curious or possibly interested in beginning that journey as well.

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  1. It’s not a quick process.  Signing up for surrogacy is not like signing up for an exercise class at the Y.  It’s definitely a long process which includes a long list of requirements before you are even approved to become a surrogate.  I had to do a physical assessment of my female anatomy (including a bit of an uncomfortable procedure called “Saline Infusion Sonography”), a complete medical history review which required me to have my current doctor’s office to fax over a large stack of medical information, lots of blood work, a personality assessment (around 500 questions), visits with a psychiatrist and a psychologist, and working with an attorney to write up and sign a very long surrogacy agreement (which had to be notarized.)  Not only did I have to go through many of these steps as the surrogate, but so did my husband and the intended parents.  We all had to talk to the psychiatrist, sign legal documents, and have blood work.  My husband and I both had to take antibiotics prior to the procedure and we both had to be trained on how to give intramuscular injections.  All of this had to take place along with waiting on the embryos to be fertilized and ready for the procedure.  Often times, there are many setbacks.  For example, if the egg is a fresh egg (not frozen), the baby’s mother (or egg donor, depending on circumstances) has to go through the egg retrieval process, then the egg has to be fertilized and implanted.  If the egg is frozen, it has to make it through the thawing process before it can be fertilized and depending on whether or not a viable embryo is created, this process could have to be repeated.  Long story short, I began the process in August, thought I was going to go through the transfer in October, but didn’t get to transfer day until January.  Although the wait was frustrating at times, in the end, I believe the timing was perfect and everything happened exactly as it should have.
  2. IVF is not easy, but it is humbling.  I gained an entirely newfound admiration and appreciation for women who go through IVF.  Ladies, it is HARD.  I took hormones that gave me crazy moods and my emotions were on a pendulum swing.  I gained weight due to all of the bloating and I had lots of nausea, cramps, and headaches.  I will never forget the first time I had to give myself a shot in the stomach.  It was the day I took my 4 year old to the hospital to have her tonsils and adenoids removed.  That morning, I grabbed the skin on my stomach and injected a syringe of Lupron into my belly.  Shew!  I could do this!  I did this every day for weeks while also taking oral hormones and rotating 2-4 patches of Estrogen on my belly.  Shortly after, I also began doing the dreaded progesterone in oil injections.  They go an inch into your muscle, but the worst part is the heaviness of the medicine going in.  I would have bumps the size of golf balls on my hips and bruises as big as my palm.  My husband gave me these shots until I was 12 weeks pregnant. Two times, we hit a blood vessel and would have to start all over.  One of those times, I fainted.  Here’s the thing…  do not feel sorry for me.  This taught me a huge lesson and gave me a huge respect and appreciation for women who desire so deeply to be moms.  There are women who go through this process 6 times before ever having a child to call their own.  Some never succeed at all.  Pray for these women.  I can remember being at the IVF clinic and getting my blood drawn.  There was a lady next to me getting hers drawn too.  I could hear her sobbing the whole time.  Was this her 4th time with no luck?  Was she just scared of the needle in her arm again?  Were they determining if she had miscarried?  I didn’t know, but I did know that so many women who sit in that chair have heavy grief and that I’m lucky I get to do this for a woman who gets to be a mom now.  My discomfort was temporary.  The woman I carried for endured cancer, intense cancer treatments and surgeries, and infertility.  Now, she gets to be a mom.  The shots don’t seem like such a big deal when you put it all into perspective.
  3. Not everyone will be supportive, but so many others will be.  My sister in law had colon cancer.  She can’t carry her own child.  I offered to do this for her and her husband without any expectation of compensation.  I did a good thing.  I’m proud of that good thing and each and every time I get to see my little niece with her parents, knowing I held her in my womb so they could one day hold her in their arms is absolutely worth it.  I care what people think.  I want to inspire people and I want people to see what I did and believe they can bless others radically too.  I cannot let others opinions and worries keep me from carrying out a calling.  There were whispers, comments on social media, and so many opinions shared.  Ultimately, what mattered most to me was being obedient to a calling I had on my heart.  I had to choose not to let the nay-sayers hurt me.  I wrote a prayer on my phone and every time I felt attacked or upset, I would open up that prayer and immediately feel at peace and confident in my decision to carry Adalyn. There were also tons of people – people I saw daily, people I didn’t know at all, who brought us so much encouragement.  These people touched me in a way that I can’t describe.  I didn’t really grasp until now that impact is measurable.  I felt so much love and peace during this journey, and a huge part of that was knowing that my calling was making an impact on lots of people.

 

So, there you have it!  Being a surrogate was a huge journey for sure and one that I never dreamed would become a reality for me, but I’m so thankful it did.  Even with all of the obstacles, I would do it all over again for them.  I’ll never forget watching my sister in law become a mom for the first time as she got to experience a love she once thought was impossible. 

 

What other questions do you have for me about surrogacy?  I’d love to answer them!  Leave a comment below!

7×7 Prayer Challenge

Prayer Challenge

I’m guessing that if you’ve scrolled through your Facebook feed recently, you’ve seen a lot of people asking for prayers. We could all use a prayer, but sometimes, I feel like God lays certain people on my heart to pray for very intently.  It was near the end of 2017 when a sweet friend of mine went through a very traumatic experience.  There was nothing I could do for her to help her heartache go away.  All I knew to do was to pray, but it didn’t feel enough.  I decided to make a commitment to continually pray for my friend.  Shortly after, this little prayer challenge was born.  It’s actually very simple.

7 People.  7 Days per week.

  1. Ask God to put 7 people on your heart.
  2. Write a prayer for each of those people and save those prayers in the notes section of your phone.
  3. Set an alarm on your phone for each day of the week.  Title those alarms with the names you are praying for.  (For example, your Monday alarm might say, “John,” and your Tuesday alarm might say, “Beth.”)
  4. Wherever you are when that alarm goes off daily, stop what you are doing, open that prayer in your phone, and say that prayer for that person.

Who Should I Pray For?

  • Someone who you know is hurting
  • Someone who you know needs to find Jesus
  • Someone who you struggle to get along with or someone who you find offensive – not a prayer for them to change or to learn a lesson, but for them to be immersed in blessings and the overwhelming power of God’s love for them
  • Someone who is struggling to meet a goal or fulfill a desire
  • A child of yours or a spouse
  • A co-worker you don’t know well at all.
  • The future spouse of your child (even if your child is only 2 weeks old!)
  • Your child’s teacher
  • Your pastor
  • A leader you respect
  • A leader you struggle to respect

 

My Why.

Remove the Veil

I’ve been putting this off for a long time.  I’m busy, but I’m also scared.  Scared to make the leap, and most of all, scared to let go and be as real as I know I need to be.  I hope you’ll come here and find comfort, inspiration, empathy, and authenticity.  I hope we’ll learn together how to be bold without sacrificing kindness.  My life looks pretty good on Facebook and Instagram, and the truth is that my life is good.  I’m blessed beyond measure, but I have a ton of imperfections and struggles that I’ve hidden from people for the sake of privacy pride.

My Hope.

I want to give people in the cyber world a breath of fresh air by showing them transparency.  I’m done comparing myself to the versions of people I see on Facebook.  I’m ready to reveal my issues to you.  I’m ready for you to see that I’m not perfect and that my family isn’t perfect either.  I’m ready for you to see me without my makeup.  Without my kids all hugging and smiling.  Without my pride.  I’m ready to be real and for us all to take one huge sigh of relief together as we acknowledge that beauty isn’t found in the fairy tale.  Beauty is found in the crazy, the sweat, the deep set wrinkles, and the mess.  Fluff is just fluff and I don’t want to be a fluffy woman.  I want to be strong, and to be strong, I have to be ok with showing you when I’m not.

As I remove my veil, I hope you’ll remove yours too.  I hope you’ll look around and see a whole new social media without the perfect appearance.  I hope you’ll find a community of women who care more about joy, growth, and empowerment than they do about an airbrushed, filtered image.

My Mission.

Mission.PNG

Take off the blindfold. See behind the screen.  Abandon the mask.  Real, authentic beauty is behind the veil.  Remove the veil.