Living With a Heart of Grace 

woman sitting on rock doing heart hand gesture
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What do you do when things come against you in life? When disappointments happen, or someone you love hurts or betrays you? Do you get angry? Do you want to lash out or retaliate? For most of us, I imagine our responses being very different and varying in a number of ways. For me personally, I can speak from two different times in my life … Before Jesus and After Jesus! 

Before Jesus, my reaction was anger and hurt feelings. I would close off and shut down from everyone. While I would not confront the issue directly, I would let it seep in and simmer until it was down deep and marinated in my heart. I would move on and keep it buried and never speak of it, just put on a smile until the next offense comes along. The same cycle would take place and finally I am just a walking book of offenses. A book threatening to bust at any moment and recall EVERY SINGLE offense that I had harbored in my heart. As you can imagine, I was bitter, unhappy and not very genuine in my love for others. I purposely kept my distance, careful not to get too close because I didn’t want to feel that sting. 

I think for some of us, maybe even a majority of us, we keep our distance and only put in just enough to keep others at bay. You know, the one that always shows up and plays the part, being kind, loving, generous, helpful and genuine in their efforts to love others. However, they never truly connect on a deeper level. They always leave feeling as empty as they did when they arrived, because they sense the same act being played by others. We have become a world where we just put on the face, play the part and never experience any real change in our hearts or our lives. We stay in the same “safe circles” until strife and division sweep in and tear these circles apart. It is so easy to separate relationships when there is no real substance there. This holds true for our friendships, our marriages, even families are torn apart by a worldly mindset of it being all about “ones self”.  

I can certainly speak to this mindset from a personal standpoint because I was that person. I’d shut down so fast and avoid people who hurt or offended me. If I allowed myself to be back in that same circle, I’d be cordial, kind and even smile, but my heart was guarded and I never truly engaged again. My feelings were hardened and I looked for any reason or excuse to maintain my grasp on the offense that I was carrying. As you can imagine, this lifestyle was extremely lonely because I had not one person that I could truly count on. I had no one that I could vent to and trust that it would go no further. I learned very early in life to guard my tongue when I was frustrated; because the one whom I thought was a confidant and true friend, only used my words against me any time it fit their agenda for personal gain.

As you can imagine, I didn’t trust very easily and even to this day, I don’t. I am extremely guarded with what I share on a personal level with people who can use my pain against me. It has literally taken years of heartache, failed relationships and trusting my own misguided ways to come to a conclusion that I needed something so much more in life than what I had. I needed Jesus and no not the “just go to church on Sunday” kind of Jesus. I needed a real, authentic encounter with Him. I needed to hear His voice, I needed to feel His presence, I needed to see His goodness. Once I got to that point I could finally accept His grace and in return extend it to others. 

Now I am in a place of living life with an “after Jesus” mindset. After I truly encountered Jesus and accepted His love and grace over my own life, was I finally in a place to start extending that same love and grace to others. This was by no means an overnight process and I still get it wrong, but I can quickly recognize the holy spirit prompting me when I feel myself backsliding. Thankfully, my eyes have been opened to see what God wants me to see in my moments of heartache, and I can hear what He is telling me in my spirit. It isn’t always an easy answer or process and sometimes I have to hurt even more to get to a place of healing. However, finding my place of healing, followed by my freedom is worth every heartache that He walks me back through. 

This post is in my spirit today because of something I am currently processing. A hurt that was brought on by a feeling of betrayal by someone I love. It is never easy when those we love hurt us. I know this hurt was not intentional and I even understand that it came from a place of fear. Regardless of the how or why behind it, it hurts non the less and I am left with a decision to make. I can either be angry, bitter and upset with someone that I love dearly and would break my heart to lose. OR, I can extend the same love and grace that God pours into my life daily, always forgiving me graciously with every hurt and heartache that I inflict upon Him. As a christian and woman of God, I choose to be “like Christ” because that is what His word tells me to do. Is it easy? No, but what would be harder to bear is losing someone I love over an honest mistake. 

The thought I want to leave with you guys today is this … love even if it breaks your heart. 

Love others in such a way that you can easily extend the grace needed when those hurts or disappoints come. I no longer desire to hold on to grudges or file away the offenses in my heart. What I desire is to have someone that is there no matter what, that person that I can disagree with, but still stand together in unity. That person that drives me to be the best version of myself that I can be. That is the person that I will always defend, no matter what! That is the person who’s secrets will always be safe with me, regardless of a disagreement. I will never use their hurts or pains against them, because my Father in heaven never uses mine against me. I spent too many years in a very dysfunctional friendship/relationship that wasn’t healthy on either side and I have absolutely no desire to go back to that. I want genuine, I deserve genuine and so do you. Find that person that you can be real with, knowing that they are flawed just like you, understanding that they will disappoint you and let you down, but in the end will be willing to fight tooth and nail to sustain that relationship with you. That is what living with a heart of grace is all about. Being able to love others where they are, being able to disagree but still stand together and cling to the promise of a better future together than apart. 

God’s Word tells us that the greatest commandment is to Love. You simply cannot have true genuine love for others and not have grace for their mistakes. Not one of us in this life is perfect and we all come with our own set of issues and mishaps. True genuine friendships are so rare so when you find one, fight for it. When someone wrongs you, no matter who they are be willing to extend the same grace and forgiveness that God so readily gives to us. If we all just took a moment to think of the ways we hurt and disappoint God on a daily basis, we might just live our lives with a different mindset. For me I choose to overlook instead of find offense, I will extend grace and not hold a grudge and I will love instead of lose! People that God places in our lives are not disposal, just because of a disagreement or mistake. 

But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. Mark 11:25 NLT

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

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.