DEFINING A MOTHER

I was surprised on this trip how much I missed my Mom. When traveling for the NEDC, I would always call my Mom and tell her I had safely arrived at my destination. With the heightened security alert, I was more aware of my surroundings and was sure this would have been a time that my Mother would have been concerned about my safety. The Bible tells us that when God closes one door he opens another, so it was Patty who told me to make sure and call her when I safely arrived back home in Knoxville.

Mothers are very special people who do not always have to be your biological or even a live-in parent to hold the place of “Mother” in our heart. I am blessed to say that I have had many “Mothers” in my life. My neighbor growing up, Mary, has always taken me in and mothered me when my father was sick with cancer and after he died when I was six. Then my Aunt Nancy was also a special woman in my life who often took care of me on weekends when my Mother worked as a nurse in CCU. My sister, being several years older, also mothered me quite a bit. I am happy to say that Natalie and Julian have many special women in their lives as well. I am sure as they get older many other women will surface who will teach them so much as well. God did not intend for us to parent alone and I am happy to report that I am not alone in parenting my twins.

Patty and I went shopping and out to eat and had a delightful time talking about our children! We did talk about other things as well, but mostly the children! We had such a wonderful time, we hated to say goodbye. We are blessed to have each other and I know God has given me such a beautiful gift, not only my children, but their whole family.

When I was at the conference, I told a few people about my own story and one lady told me that mine and Patty’s story is so wonderful that I need to keep on telling it! Adoption is a beautiful thing and more people need to know how wonderful open relationships can be. The conference was a great success and so many people had never heard of embryo donation/adoption that I know the NEDC made a great impact. They were so thankful we were there and that such an option exists.

There are so many women that are “Mothers” that do not match the traditional definition of motherhood and I want to thank them all! Today I want to challenge you to tell someone thank you who was or is like a mother to you, then think about all the people who you may be like a mother to as well. Giving birth does not make you a mother nor does rearing a child in your home. What makes you a mother is the love you give a child. Thank you to all the women in my life who have shown me and taught me what love really means.

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A MOTHER’S DAY MESSAGE

This Mother’s Day is much different for me than the last. Last year, we were knee deep in NICU and my babies got their NG tubes out for the last time. It was a big milestone, but the daily uncertainty of NICU life remained and weighed heavily upon me. We’ve come a long way since that weekend. My little peanuts are nearly five times their size from last year and are both VERY active and mobile. Watching them both crawl down the hall side by side is a joyous sight. Jeremy and I agree that we are in a much better place this year.

While I have the joy of spending this Mother’s Day weekend with my babies at home, there are many who are left with empty arms and broken hearts. For those who are grieving the loss of a baby no matter how small, there is hope that one day you will see him or her again. The Bible assures us that God’s grace extends to the smallest among us and that they are rejoicing with Him in heaven. For those who have yet to realize your own dream of motherhood, I wish you peace and comfort today. You are not forgotten. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

WONDERFUL WAYS TO SPEND AN EVENING

Last night was the Big Band Bash (BBB) which is an opportunity for all of the schools from elementary to high school in our school district to gather for a competition. Ryan had participated while in elementary and middle school, but had decided he didn’t want to continue on to play in the high school band. I was upset with this decision, put didn’t push the issue. He needs to find his own way in life, and I have to learn the very hard lesson that as his mother, if have to know when to step aside and let him do so. I was very concerned that he would later regret this decision, but when Jim asked him last night at dinner if he missed it, he said he didn’t really. He has pursued other interests, such as the play put on by the Drama Club and he presently is a member of the Crew Team.

This was the first year that Ryan wouldn’t be in the BBB, yet it was Joel’s first year playing the Alto Sax in the elementary school band. He was very excited, and the kid who thinks that time stands still for him was repeatedly asking me what time it was so we wouldn’t be late. He was dressed and ready to go without being told well before we needed to leave. It amazes me how this happens when they really want something. This was also the first BBB that Auntie wasn’t here to attend. She was a great music lover, and would come to many of the events my boys participated in, from Scouts to sports. In fact, last year I think she was the only one at the track meet Ryan was participating in that was wearing heels and pearls, because she was dressed up for the BBB later that same evening. I would pick her up once the kids were out of school, she would have dinner with us, and attend the event. As I prepared dinner last night, it was hard not to think about her absence in my life. There have been so many times in the last year that I’ve thought I needed to call her about something. In the end, the BBB was quite a success, and Joel was talking about how much he enjoyed performing on the ride home. I asked him if he planned to continue on with the band next year when he is in middle school, and he said yes.

Yesterday afternoon while we were getting ready, Marti called to say she had arrived in NY, and we chatted for a few minutes. I’m very excited to have a Girl’s Night, and how ironic is it that it is at the beginning of Mother’s Day weekend? After all, it was our desire to become mother’s that caused us to meet. Another ironic fact, it was NEDC that brought us together in the end, and we’ll be meeting up at their conference, which once again will draw us together. It never ceases to amaze me how life takes such twists and turns. Now on to more important things, like what to wear for our big night on the town!

MOMMYS DON’T GO TO WORK

This week I get the privilege to work for the NEDC in a different capacity than I have been for the last two years. I get to go back to my old position of Public Relations Manager for three whole days! I am very excited about the adoption conference in Albany, New York, where I will have a booth set up to educate those attending the conference about embryo donation/adoption. I have missed this job and believe so much in the cause that I know my passion is contagious.

When I first told the twins a couple of weeks ago about me going back to work for a few days, one of them responded with, “Mommys don’t go to work!” I am not sure if I should feel saddened by this comment or overjoyed that my children have been blessed to have me stay home with them for this long. The only place I go regularly and leave them is to Bible Study on Thursday nights. They often play that Julian goes off to work and Natalie goes to Bible Study. This is the world they know of and are acting it out. I tell them that I used to work and have taken them to the NEDC office many times to meet everyone, but since I do not leave now, I guess that means nothing to them.

I wondered if it would be hard for me to leave them today, but it was not. They each gave me a kiss and told me to be careful. Julian let me know that he was going with Daddy to his cousin Will’s birthday party. The party is on Saturday, and they have been counting down the days! I have been telling them that I would not be going with them and Daddy would take them, so they are prepared for me not to be there. I am surprised how much I have missed traveling seeing God’s vast lands and meeting all his glorious people. I feel that this position is a ministry and I hope the next person who gets it feels this way also.

Patty will be meeting me for dinner on Saturday night and we are looking forward to a girls only night out! She only lives two hours away so she is driving out to meet me. Brian said he would give us each a thousand dollars if we did not talk about the kids at all while we were together. At one point in our relationship I would say that would be impossible, but now that we know each other better, I would say bring on the money Brian! I am not sure I can talk with anyone without talking about what God has done for me and my children, so in the end, I am sure they will be mentioned a few times and not just to Patty.

What a blessing it is for me this Mother’s day weekend to be representing the NEDC, who made it possible for me to be a mother and Patty as well. God is so good to give me such a privilege and I cannot wait to tell you all about this wonderful opportunity. I wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all that are Mothers and those who are waiting to be Mothers. This is a very hard time for those who are waiting and I will be praying for you. I am not sure that anything makes this time easy, but may it give you some peace knowing people are praying for you. God bless you all!

GLADYS AND SQUISHY

Before they were known as Grant and Maria, they were P-Rone and Estrace in honor of the hormones I had the pleasure of taking for our embryo transfer. Now that they are a year old, P-Rone and Estrace are a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have many other nicknames. So, for no reason whatsoever, here’s a list of the different names we’ve called them over the past year…

Grant – G, G Money, G Man, Squishy (meaning “needy”….used in a sentence “Grant is having an extra squishy day), Squishy Man, and Squishers

Maria – Bit, Baby Bit, Ria (care of Cousin Jake…aka Jake-a-roo), Kathy (as in Kathy Bates in Misery…this kid can change moods in a split second), Smiley McJohnson (care of Jeremy…best not to ask), and Gladys (as it relates to her regular neighborhood watch duties and need to sit in the front seat of the stroller)

The good news is that they do respond to their real names so, I don’t think we’re causing any long term identity issues.

PUTTING ON YOUR ARMOR

This past weekend has been full of weddings. Friday morning the twins and I sat and watched the highlights of the Royal wedding. I could not believe the twins watched it, but Julian was impressed when the Royal couple rode around in a “race” car. Natalie likes princesses, so I stressed that this was a real princess, even though she does not officially get that title. In my opinion that is a farce!

Saturday dad played golf with his Dad and twin while the twins and I stayed home getting ready for the wedding on Sunday, to which we were actually invited. I had planned for us all to be matching in our lime green outfits, but then I tried on my dress and realized it was way too big. I wanted to wear it, but there was no way I could pull it off. After seeing the Royal wedding I really wanted a hat, but I did not have one of those either.

When the kids and I went to a yard sale (my friend Cathy is raising money for her mission trip to Africa), we found many wonderful items, such as beautiful china Snow White doll and a Handy Manny talking doll, but no dress for Mommy. When Brian got home that night I did decided to run out and see if I could find a dress and I did, but it was not lime green.

The next morning I got up and ironed our outfits and then we were off to church which got us in the spirit of worship and ready to celebrate the wedding of my nephew Ryan and Elyse. They have been engaged for over a year and I am so happy my Mom had the opportunity to get to know Elyse. I know that means a lot to Ryan and Elyse also. Family is very important to them and you could feel that throughout the wedding.

One of the first things I noticed when I walked into the reception area was the wedding picture of David and Tracy (Ryan’s Dad and my brother) on one of the tables. There were pictures of their parents and grandparents as part of the center piece of each table, those that did not have a picture had an “M” cut out in maple wood. There were also orange and yellow tulips as well as tangerines at each table. The wedding was so beautiful and the feeling of family was everywhere.

The wedding ceremony itself was very touching. One of the parts that stuck with me was when the pastor talked about how sacred marriage is and how the Devil will try and destroy it, so we have to have our foundation in Christ to be able to withstand the storms that are sure to come. The “hard” times are different for each couple, but I know infertility is definitely one of those storms. I remember when my father-in-law told me that the divorce rates for couples who undergo IVF are high, and I have also heard that the rates are high for couples who have multiples, therefore, Brian and I have many things going against us. I am sure I could list more and more. But like most things in life, we all have a choice, are we going to fight or flee? I choose to fight for children, for my marriage or anything else that is of God. I know without God I would not have the energy to “fight,” so I say to those of you facing a new marriage or struggling with infertility, put on the Armor of God and get to work. Marriage and children are not for slackers!

Ephesians 6:10-18 (New International Version, ©2011)

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.