The Strength of Womanhood

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 Philippians 4:13 (NK]V) 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 

This scripture is so simple, yet so profound. It has encouraged many of us during our trials in life. As I sit here and ponder what I should share several things come to mind: I could share my past hurts, I could share how I overcame being wronged, I could share how I found strength to forgive, I could even share how God is giving me strength to endure my walk with infertility. 

All of these are worthy to share and they all show that I only overcame these trials by the power of God in me. Yet, I find myself wanting to share something much deeper, my fear. A fear that I have carried for a long time, something that I don’t share with anyone because the fear of rejection is paralyzing. 

I don’t think any of us like rejection, however, some of us can handle it better than others. I for one have let the fear of rejection keep me from doing so many things in my life. I look back and think of all the opportunities I have missed because I just didn’t take that step. I’ve been my own worst enemy for a long time. I know that God has a calling on my life and I know that He has a purpose for me. Unfortunately, I have let myself get in the way of stepping out into the places that He wants to take me. I am a dreamer and I have big dreams, yet I haven’t done anything to make them happen. Why, you ask? Well, because I am afraid. Afraid to minister to someone, afraid to write that book, afraid to teach others because my past will eventually catch up to me and tarnish any good that I’ve done. Afraid that those who knew me in the past will rise up against who I have become in Christ and cause people to question who I am today. 

I have spent so many years just being friendly and cordial to people, but never really seeking a relationship with anyone outside of my husband, family and children. I’ve loved on others, prayed for them, blessed them and done all the right things, but I’ve never encountered that unconditional love from a friend. I’ve never allowed anyone to even get close enough to test those limits, that is until recently. Over the past couple of months a few people have been brought into my life to challenge me and grow me. I began this class not really knowing what to expect, because I didn’t really know anyone, but in this short amount of time my heart has been touched so deeply. I’ve met some of the most amazing people and connected on such a deep level with a few of these individuals. I genuinely cherish these women who have been brought into my life because it is such an honor to be able to do life with them. 

I’m sure by now you are asking the question: what does this have to do ,with any kind of fear? Right? Well, the closer I got to these women, the more I loved them and knew that I wanted to be completely transparent with them. I wanted them to know me, all of me, the good, the bad and the ugly. We’ve cried together, we’ve laughed together, we’ve prayed together, but I needed to know that they would love and accept me in spite of who I was. It’s easy to love people that seem so put together on the outside, so shiny, so confident (as long as you don’t get too close), but what about those that are broken and hurting? Will they still love me if they knew my past? There was only one way to find out, be honest, share my story and see where it goes. So with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, I shared something that I’ve not shared with anyone. Only people in my family and from my past know this about me because it isn’t something that I share with others. I don’t share it because I am ashamed and I don’t want to be judged or looked down on. 

My fear of rejection always takes over my wanting to be transparent, so I’ve just always kept my distance. This time was different though, I wanted to be who I was, I wanted them to know me, the whole me. So there we stood in the parking lot and I spilled the beans that I had been married before which I’m pretty sure they already knew that part. The part they didn’t know was that I’d been married several times, I am a three time divorcee. I can give excuses as to why I made the decisions that I did and maybe even convince some that I was right to make the choices that I did, but the truth is, there is no good excuse or reason. I just made poor decisions, and now I carry the burden of those poor choices. It has hindered me from being who God called me to be because I let my mind convince me that I’m not worthy to lead others. I’m not worthy to be an inspiration to others, I’m damaged goods and no one will ever take me seriously. I watched their faces as I spoke, but I seen nothing but love and compassion and the only response they both gave was: “Let it go, God has forgiven you, Stop living in a defeated state of mind”. My heart was overcome with joy, you mean they didn’t sprint to the car with an abrupt “we’ve got to go”. They didn’t look at me as if I was some leper. They helped me see that I was the only one crippled by this truth. They helped me see that in God’s eyes I was worthy and in their eyes nothing had changed. I was no different, then I was five minutes before I told them. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off of my shoulders. I knew then that I finally felt the true, genuine love of christian women who will forever, be a part of my life. With this new sense of freedom I was able to share with my life group leader this truth, and the response I received yet again was, “Let it go, stop holding on to that”. I was remirided that we all have a past, some are just more intense than others: So with my friendships still intact and no rejection to this point, I came to church on Saturday with a lighter heart. I came with a heart of gratitude and was able to surrender it all to God. After service I was approached by someone that I did not know who said she felt led to come over and pray for me. After she prayed over me and my husband, with several others standing in agreement with us, she told me that she felt like God was telling her to have me read the Book of John, there was something He was trying to reveal to me. That evening we got into bed and I picked up my Bible and did just that, I read the entire Book of John Saturday night earnestly searching for what God was trying to tell me. I read all of the miracles that Jesus performed and I was reminded that the same God that performed those miracles is the very same God that I serve today. I also know that the miracles He performed in the Bible are still miracles that He can and will perform today for those that seek Him. As excited as I was to read all of these miracles, I was sure there was something more and sure enough there was.

I found myself right there in the Book of John … I was the samaritan woman at the well who hung her head in shame because of the decisions I had made. I was the adulteress woman whose life was spared because Jesus reminded her accusers that they themselves were not free of sin. I was both of these women whom Jesus extended His grace, His mercy and His salvation and then told them to: “Go and Sin No More”. He already forgave my sin the minute I gave my life to Him. He not only forgave it, He forgot it. I was the one holding onto it, I was the one letting it hinder my ability to live freely in the grace and forgiveness that He extended to me. I was the one living in fear that no one would accept me, I was still hung up on the shame of these decisions. I kept people at bay not wanting them to get too close because of my fear of rejection. This isn’t God’s plan for our lives, He created us to have relationships with each other. Real relationships with real stuff so that we can grow and learn from each other. So after several confirmations and a word from God himself, I am now free of the bondage of this sin. He has given me the strength to overcome the stronghold that was over my mind. I realize that I am an overcomer only by the power that He places in me. 

A saying very near and dear to my heart is: “My flesh is weak, but He is strong· and His mercies endure forever.” I love this because it is so true, my flesh will fail, but His strength in me allows me to overcome these times and keep on going. God didn’t create us to live a defeated life. He gives us strength to overcome obstacles so that we can be warriors in His Kingdom. We have to be strong in Him in order to fight the enemy and press on even when our flesh is weak and tired. 

God’s word says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV) And He said to me, ”My grace is sufficient for you, for mstrength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power qf Christ may rest upon me. I stand on the promise of this word because His strength is made perfect in my weakness. In my weakness He was able to renew my mind as to who I am. I am a daughter of the King of Kings, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. He loves me and has surrounded me with people for such a time as this to lift me up and help me overcome my demons. 

 

 

NOTE: This entry was actually written a few years ago back in 2016. I came across this particular piece today by accident actually and felt led to share it. I do pray that it blesses someone because when this was written, it was during my time of struggling to become a mom.

 

It’s Just Mom – No Prefix Needed =)

 

 

unspecifiedHello, Beautiful People of the world!! My name is Nikki and I started this blog to share my testimony, both the blessings and the struggles of becoming a mom. You see, it took me 15 years before I became a mother figure, but the reality is I still didn’t see myself as a “Mom”. It was 2012 and after many years of infertility heartache, I married the most incredible man in the world. With this man came his four beautiful children that became “ours”, so this is where my journey with motherhood begins.

In 2016 God opened my heart and home to becoming a foster parent so I added the new title of “Foster Mom” to my journey of motherhood.

In 2017 God gave me the absolute honor of becoming an official “Adoptive Mom”, when we welcomed our beautiful son into this world.

I began 2019 with my second official “Adoptive Mom” title when God closed the final chapter for us to finalize our amazing daughters journey. This particular journey took me through many highs and lows during the 2 years and 8 months that it took for her to finally become “ours” in the legal sense.

The primary purpose of this blog is to share my experiences with each of these instances, as well as, other parts of my life. I am be no means an expert in any of these areas, but I am an expert on my own feelings, struggles and heartaches. I can speak to a variety of situations … step moms, foster moms, adoptive moms, as well as, my sisters who are dealing with infertility and even the heartache of miscarriages and failed adoptions. I endured a lot of pain in each of these areas and can totally empathize with these heartbreaks. I am just a mom who has a story to tell and an abundance of hope and compassion to give. I give every ounce of honor, glory and praise to my Heavenly Father who has brought me through the lowest of lows in my life and held me in my bitter brokeness of disappointments.

If I can pray for you or encourage you in any way,  please don’t hesitate to comment or message me. I would love to connect with other women who are on this same journey. We are better together and I pray that my transparency can help others find peace and hope along their own journey. To my beautiful friends and family that have encouraged me along this road, I am forever thankful and grateful for you! I love you guys!!

 

 

 

 

Open Adoption

 

This blog entry was inspired by a beautiful young lady that reached out to me asking if my husband and I knew the birth parents of our beautiful children. It really is pretty amazing how adoption has added layers to our relationships with others. You never know who may be on the same journey or how someone else in your life may have been affected by adoption. This particular situation just solidifies my strong convictions on why it is so important for adoptions to be open. I completely understand that this isn’t the case in every adopton scenario. I totally get that some adoptions have to be private/closed to protect innocent children and the adoptive families. However, even in these cases, I believe it to be extremely important for birth family information to be obtained and kept for a time that the child is older and begins their own journey to discover “who they are”. Being able to give this information to my children when they become adults or even old enough to begin asking questions is so important to me because I feel like they have a right to know where they came from. However, this has not always been my heart …

To be perfectly honest, when I began visiting the idea of adoption approximately 20 years ago, I had absolutely no desire what so ever to have an open adoption. My entire mind set was “if they don’t love their baby enough to keep them, then why should they deserve to know them throughout their life?”. Man, what a twisted and selfish way to think, I know. Even now typing those words out in black and white, I cringed just a bit because my mindset was so selfish. Let me begin by telling you why my heart was so ugly.

All I’ve ever wanted was to be a mother, so when I got married (at a very young age) in the pursuit to obtain this dream of becoming a mother, I was devastated when it just didn’t happen. With every doctors visit my hopes slowly began to diminish and the reality began to sink in that this dream my never become a reality. My heart began to turn bitter, my tears of sadness became tears of anger. I felt so hopeless and I just couldn’t understand why everyone around me was having babies, while I was suffering all alone in the darkness of my own world. No one understood my pain, so I was all alone on this little island of hopelessness just waiting for my turn to come. I begrudgingly attended baby showers with a very heavy heart trying to smile my way through when all I wanted to do was escape the festivities and cry. I became so angry at God and my heart began to harden with the disappointment and realization that infertility was quickly becoming my reality. Adoption was discussed but not really in great detail or with any hope of pursuing that road. My husband at the time was not really open to that idea and was only interested in natural children (which I was unable to give him). Eventually, my own anger, sadness and frustration began to take over and ultimately ended the marriage.

(My “About Me’ section gives my full testimony so in the interest of staying on point for this particular blog entry I will just focus on the adoption.)

As you can imagine with each year that passed, my heart continued to desire this child, yet my body just couldn’t do what it took to make it happen. When I began exploring the world of adoption we were faced with the different options: closed, open, private, domestic, international etc. There was so many different avenues to choose from, but that only added to the frustrations because there were so many hoops to jump through in order to obtain this dream. First you have the financial aspect, which is beyond ridiculous with the fees that you have to pay. Then you have to prove that you can financially provide for this child, as well as, obtain medical clearances and pass background and credit checks (which are all fees that you have to pay for). Again, I didn’t see any promising options because financially it was impossible at the time.

This is where my mentality came into play when asked about an open adoption. I was very vocal in the area of wanting a closed adoption. I truly felt like anyone who “gave their kid up” (again a very terrible mind set) didn’t deserve to know anything about them. Please keep in mind that my heart was hurting so bad and I was angry at the world for something that I just couldn’t understand. However, after 15 years or so of infertility, God began to do an amazing work in my heart. He began to soften it and gave me a completely new outlook.

I can’t tell you when it happened or how, I just know that at some point God spoke to my spirit and gently reminded me that without the sacrifice of birth parents, I might not ever have the opportunity to be a mom. WHOA!!! What an amazing revelation that was for my heart?!?!? I then began to see what a blessing birth parents were and how selfless they have to be in order to place their child for adoption. Choosing adoption for them is about choosing their baby over their own happiness. It was at this moment that I began to see birth parents in a whole now way, they weren’t “giving their kid up”, they were choosing to give their baby a better life than what they could give them in that moment. I began to have a new respect for women who openly chose adoption for their babies.

This journey has taken me on all kinds of highs and lows, but I’ve been connected to some pretty incredible people along the way. Some who fight the same battle with infertility, some who have been adopted, some who have adopted themselves. However, the most incredible people I’ve gotten to know on this journey is our birth parents. Both of our children came to us in completely different ways, one came to us through foster care and another through a family friend. One we picked up at the Child Protective Services building and the other I had the great honor and pleasure of being in the delivery room at the time of birth. I don’t discredit either parent because the choice of adoption is still a very difficult choice to make, regardless of the circumstances that brought them to that decision. In the end they both chose to give their children a better life than they could provide in that moment. Regardless of their own pain and sacrifice, they chose the well being of the life that they created and carried, over their own happiness.

My friends this is where I applaud these selfless people whom God gave the strength to carry a child and then allow someone else to raise and love them into adulthood. Their decisions didn’t come easy as they let go of their own flesh and blood, allowing them to be adopted into another family. I seen first hand the emotional toll that it took and my heart hurt so bad during the process. On the day we finalized our son’s adoption his birth mom was so strong and courageous. She stood in the chambers with us as he was officially being given to us, and I can not imagine the thoughts that must have been going through her mind. She held herself together throughout the entire process, but when we got to the parking lot and she and I embraced, we both broke into a fit of tears together. My tears where a mixture of happy, relief and sadness and I imagine hers were probably about the same. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t look at our son and see her, not just in physical features, but her loving and kind spirit. She is one of the strongest women I have the pleasure of knowing and I love her dearly. She made the choice to make me a mom and I am forever grateful for that most precious gift.

Our daughter’s adoption was a little different. While I am not as close to her birth parents, I am equally thankful for their sacrifice. Every adoption is different with different dynamics since we all process things differently. Each relationship we have with our birth parents is unique, but we take nothing away from their sacrifice and choice to allow us into their lives as “mom and dad” to their birth children.

After many years of infertiltiy, God was using my pain to soften my heart to the pain of someone else making a sacrifice in order for my dreams to become a reality. This is why I am adomant about our children knowing “who they are and where they came from”. I personally think it would be unfair of me to deny them that right of knowing that they have more people that love them and care for them. Both of our kids have extended family members that I hope they will someday get to know. This is why having an open adoption is so important to us because we welcome their extended family into our lives to love them and to see that they are happy and healthy.

Has this journey been an easy one? Absolutely not, but it has taught me so much along the way. It has taught me to love beyond anything I could have ever imagined. It has tested me on every level and has at times frustrated me to no end. There never seems to be an end to the paperwork, or the social workers, or the probing into our lives, but in the end it was worth every obstacle, every tear, and every frustration. Being able to hold our sweet babies and knowing that this was God’s plan for me all along is a beautiful realization. I wouldn’t change a thing, because without the struggle, I wouldn’t understand the magnitude of the blessing!

On a personal note, this blog entry comes from a desire within to know my own biological father. I myself was adopted by a step parent and I have no idea who my birth father is. I’ve gone through stages in my life where I’ve wondered “who he was, does he know about me, do I even want to know him etc”. I have thought about that side of my family, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. I’ve wondered do I have medical issues that come from that side of my dna? I was told that he knew I was born and knew where to find me, but no attempt was made to see me. I obviously only have one side of the story so it makes it a bit difficult to be angry with him on some aspects. However, this only strengthens my desire for our kids to at least have the ability to know who their birth parents are. We will leave that decision up to them as to when they are ready, but at least we will have the information to give them in order for them to make that contact.

In closing, I want to encourage any one who is on this journey to keep going. I know it’s hard, but it is so worth it! For those that have been on this journey, thank you for blazing a path for others to follow. For those that are searching and seeking answers, I pray that you can find what you are looking for. Adoptions today are so different than what they were in previous generations, now with social media and the willingness for people to be open, adoption isn’t so taboo any more. Adoption has been such a beautiful blessing in our lives and it has taught me so much in the process. Thank You all for taking the time to read, I hope this has brought some encouragement into your heart.

 

​Faith Over Fertility

PicMonkey ImageGoogle defines Infertility as the inability to conceive children or young. I find this to be a rather simple definition of a very complex condition. To those that infertility has never affected, this simple definition would be sufficient to describe it. However, if you ask anyone who has been personally affected by infertility, you will get a very different answer and description. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 18% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 are either unable to conceive or have difficulty getting pregnant. With that being said, someone in your inner circle may be suffering and you don’t even know it.

I was that person in the circle that struggled. I was the quiet one in the corner trying not to cry when someone announced a pregnancy. I was the one trying to avoid being invited to baby showers, but fighting the feeling of rejection when I wasn’t included. It really was a double edge sword that cut deep either way. I was the one crying every month when “my monthly friend” came to visit. I was the one that tried so hard not be angry at everyone else having kids with no effort what so ever. I wish I could say that I was genuinely happy for my loved ones as their families grew, but I was resentful. As my own heart broke over and over again, I began to build this wall around myself, I learned how to smile in front of everyone else while dying on the inside. Ultimately, I became bitter and disconnected.

Consider for just a moment that you are in the prime of your life and everything is moving along just as you had planned. You have married the perfect spouse, you both have great careers, you have purchased a home, you have done everything that you have dreamed of doing and now you are ready to become parents. This sounds like the typical scenario for most people as they progress through life; only for some this is where the “typical” journey takes an unexpected turn into unchartered and unwanted territory.

The intimacy that you once enjoyed has now become a job that is scheduled to maximize times of ovulation. Monthly doctors appointments and medical bills become a part of your budget. Instead of picking out cute baby clothes and furniture, you may be looking at taking out a loan for fertility treatments. Depending on the route of treatment that you take, pills and injections become a part of your daily life at home. Emotions run high, feelings of helplessness begin to sneak in and you find yourself feeling all alone in the world. You don’t know where to turn or who to talk to because no one in your inner circle understands what you are going through.

Sure your friends and family are sympathetic to your struggle, but they don’t really understand it. They don’t know what it’s like to feel completely worthless and broken. For me personally, I felt like less of a woman, I was so angry and frustrated. I just could not understand why I was unable to do the most natural thing in the world for women to do, conceive! I decided against any fertility medical procedures due to the cost of these treatments. However, I read every book there was, I sought medical advice and tried every solution suggested to me all without any success of conceiving a child.

As the years ticked by and everyone around me had babies and increased the size of their families, I grew more and more frustrated. I was angry with God and cried almost nightly because I just did not understand. What was wrong with me? What did I do that was so terrible that I didn’t deserve the children that my heart so desperately desired? I just didn’t get it, my world seemed so hopeless. Mother’s Day was a very emotional and dreaded day for me, baby showers were completely avoided and any time I was around babies, I distanced myself. My struggle with infertility began to affect more than just myself, it began to affect my relationship with others that I was once so close to. During 18 years of heartache, I endured divorce, lost friendships, miscarriage and two failed adoption attempts.

I was literally at my wits end and was really at a place of hopelessness.

It wasn’t until 2005 when I was invited to church by a co-worker that I began to understand that I needed help. Not help in the physical, but spiritually speaking I was dead and had no sense of hope. I spent most days crying behind closed doors, trying to make sense of the “why” behind my pain. Why God have you denied me the one and only thing that I have asked You for? Why God does everyone else around me deserve this gift but me? What did I ever do to deserve this pain and heartache? The more I asked these questions, the more bitter I became. I began to look for reasons in the natural, and began asking other questions. Was my infertility caused by things that were done to me as a child? Did the abuse I suffered as a scared 12 year old girl contribute to the pain that I am facing now? The bitterness then turned into anger at the person who could have possibly caused this inability for me to now be unable to conceive a child.

I am going to park right here and interject some wisdom that I didn’t have during this particular season of my life. In the natural we are always looking for someone or something to blame for our circumstances. When in reality, it isn’t up to any of us anyway. Yes, we have to be accountable for ourselves and our actions and we have to take responsibility for our choices, but there is always a much greater power in control. I say that to say this … I was putting all of my energy and effort into the wrong things. Yes, I was “crying out to God, why? why me?”, but I didn’t have a relationship of any kind to hear Him speak back to me. If I had of, then I would have found peace and comfort during my times of prayer; instead of more agonizing pain with my tears and cries of why in my moments of weakness.

What I have learned in the years since 2005, and still continue to learn today; is that I have to be willing to relinquish control of my life and circumstances and give them fully over to God. By doing this I have found peace in my journey of infertility. I have learned that God had much bigger plans for my life. Had I not walked through this pain and heartache I could not do what He has called me to do. While I still do not have biological children, I am a mom in the most beautiful way. I am forever grateful for God trusting me with this calling and this journey. Adoption was not my first choice, but it was God’s first choice for me and my life has been forever changed because of it.

I titled this particular entry “Faith Over Fertility”, because when I let my faith grow and mature, my “infertility” was no longer my focus. I began to focus on my own healing from within that allowed me to forgive some of the deepest hurts that I had. I gave myself the freedom to love others and allowed God to use me in ways that I wasn’t so sure about. He trusted me when I didn’t trust myself. He held my hand and my heart as He walked me through even more pain. This time though, I had peace in knowing that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

His purpose for me was to allow me to endure certain pains and heartaches so that I could help others find the same peace and healing that I now have. I am 1 in 4 women who have suffered from sexual assault and abuse. I am also 1 in 8 that suffered from infertility. You see I use the past tense “ed”, because I no longer suffer. I am victorious and have been given victory over what the devil meant for harm. I understand now the calling that I have on my life, but the enemy knew about it long before I did. You see he tried to take me out early as a warrior for God’s kingdom. However, what he didn’t anticipate was for me to connect with spiritual warriors that walked me out of that brokeness into a place of freedom and purpose.

So here I stand now completely free from the bondage that once held me in captivity to spread hope and healing to others who have suffered this same heartache. God has given me a purpose to reach out and bring others out of this same bondage. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I know the One that does. I can’t make the pain and heartache go away, but I know how to pray for peace and comfort. I know that my own hurts and heartaches have made me stronger in Christ and I will forever give Him all the honor, praise and glory for what He has brought me through.

Prayer:

Father God, I thank You for this calling and for the pain in my life that has given me purpose. I lift up every woman who has ever suffered from either of these pains and ask that You give them peace in the moment, let them feel Your presence as You wrap them in Your arms and pull them close. Allow them a moment to become completely broken so that they can look up and see You as their Lord and Savior. Help them to understand that You don’t allow any pain in our lives without it having a purpose and every tear we cry is followed by a testimony of  Your goodness. Continue to give them strength to fight the good fight knowing that their help comes from You. I surrender all I am to You God, to use as You see fit to further Your kingdom. Thank You for trusting me with this pain that will be used for Your glory! In the Precious Name of Jesus I pray,

Amen