A "Real" Mother's Day

A "Real" Mother's Day

By Sarah Ajero

Yesterday I celebrated my fourth Mother's Day with my daughter.  I have complicated feelings about Mother's Day after spending years mourning our infertility and miscarriages and avoiding any celebration on that particular day. I now have a child and am a “real” mom, and I really enjoy getting to pick the restaurant where we eat lunch, but I find myself glad when the day is over.  I love hearing my daughter say “Happy Mother's Day” and enjoy the flowers she gives me, but I spend a lot of the day thinking about her birth mom.  I wonder what she's doing and how painful the day must be for her.  I often think about this woman about whom I know nothing. 

We adopted our daughter from an orphanage in Nigeria where she had spent ten of her twenty-two months of life.  We don't know her birth mom's name and only have one sentence of information about her.  I have no idea if her birth mom is still living or how she is doing, but when she pops into my mind I pray for her.  Words can't express how grateful I am for her, and the life she gave my daughter.

Adoption wasn't something my husband and I ever thought we would do.  We had planned to have two or three kids just like everyone else was doing around us.  After seven years of no babies we began the process of adopting from Nigeria, my husband's home country.  In 2011 we had completed our home study and had gotten approval from US immigration to adopt a child, so we traveled to Nigeria excited but nervous about this new adventure.  We arrived in Jos, Plateau State and discovered that all the state workers were on strike with no end in sight.  This meant the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs; the agency that processes the adoption was not functioning.  We had planned to be there for three months and spent our days volunteering at a local ministry and praying for the strike to end.  As our time came to an end the strike ended as well, but it was days before a national election, which meant that none of the state workers would be working for the next month or two.  So, we came back home to the States and wondered what to do next.  We had visited the state orphanage and saw many babies that needed families, so after two years we traveled back to Jos to try again.

My husband traveled ahead of me, made sure that everyone was working and that there was an actual child available for us to adopt.  We decided to play it safe this time!  To our joy we found out a little girl had been chosen to be our daughter, so I quickly got my visa and flew to join my husband.  I met my daughter on January 29, 2013, and we brought her out of the orphanage the next day.  I don't remember much about those first few days.  I was jet lagged and overwhelmed with the enormity of what we had taken on.  We were total strangers to our daughter, and I was filled with sadness at the tragic losses she had endured in her short life.  She had a horrible sinus infection and malaria, so we got her some good medication, and spent our days hanging out at home getting to know each other.  We spent two months together as a family of three in Nigeria as we worked on her US visa.  Though it was really stressful to not be sure when we would be able to travel home to the US, I'm so grateful we had that time to get to know our daughter before we came home and jumped back into our busy lives in the US. 

Four years later I'm still overwhelmed at the job of being a parent!  But I'm so very grateful for the opportunity to raise our girl.  She is truly amazing.  I can't imagine life without her, and I can't imagine what we would've missed out on if her birth mom hadn't chosen to give her life.  My daughter knows that she has two mommies, and we often talk about her “tummy mommy” and what she could be like.  I wonder if my daughter's fabulous smile comes from her mom or her dad, or which one of them loved to sing and dance.  One of the first things I noticed about my daughter is her beautiful long fingers. I have always hated my short stubby fingers, and I was thrilled that I didn't pass them onto anyone else!  My daughter couldn't be the fabulous girl that she is if it weren't for her biological family, but they weren't able to raise her, so she needed both families to give her the life she deserves.

We have started the process again to adopt from Nigeria.  This time we're looking to add a little boy to our family.  I still dread the long, expensive, invasive and complicated process to adopt, but this time I know the end comes sooner than later, and it is all worth it.  There can be many fears in adoption, but I have no fear that the little boy who joins us will be loved and adored just as his big sister is. 

19 And Pregnant

I was 19 and in love. We got married on a chilly day in early September.  Everything was perfect. We had a plan.  Our house was being built for us, my new husband had started a business and we would have kids in 2-4 years.  That was our plan and we were working at it....for about a month. Then everything fell apart. Our plan was being hijacked (or at least that's how it seemed).

I started to feel tired, really tired. I couldn't explain my tiredness, and it wasn't going away.  One afternoon we took a drive to check out the progress on the house we were building.  On the way we stopped at a store and I bought a pregnancy test thinking I should rule it out.  I was 3 weeks late, but I was pretty sure that there was no way that I could possibly be pregnant.  We pulled up to the house & there was a port-a- potty on the front lawn because the plumbing wasn't done in the house yet.  So there in that bright blue potty that read "let us be #1 for your #2", I took the test. It was positive within seconds. So were the other 4 tests. I just remember feeling shame in that moment because I had not been able to “live life” yet.  I had just moved across the country, I had no girlfriends here….and now I was PREGNANT?  I felt so lonely and scared.  I wasn’t ready to be a mom and I had no idea what I was doing.

But God is the Redeemer of all things.  I wish I could tell you that from that time on I lived a surrendered life to my Savior, but I didn't.  I continued to live with a lot of selfishness and pride (two things I still struggle with).  I am learning that life is better when I live completely surrendered to the will of God.  The Bible says that God already knows the plans He has for us.  So why is it so hard to surrender to Him?  I want control and I want the things I want when I want them, which is usually right now!!  I think it all comes down to selfishness and pride.  We must learn to live life surrendered to His will.  I constantly find myself confessing and asking for a renewed strength to give up the pride, selfishness and the agenda I have for my life.  Sometimes we don't get to see how God is using our tough circumstances for His glory and our good.  Other times, we see clearly why He does things.  This was one of those times. 

I have learned that when I choose to surrender to Him, He takes my tough times and uses them to make me more like Him.  He takes away my selfishness and pride, which makes me more blessed and makes my life richer.  Not with worldly riches or blessings, although in this case Levi is certainly a wonderful blessing.  Blessings don't always come the way we want them.  I didn't feel ready or like I wanted to be a mom when I was 19 (sorry if that's offensive, but it's the truth). I was given a HUGE gift and an opportunity to trust God, like I had never trusted Him before.  To be honest. I still fail often.  The lessons I have learned from my early years of parenting are so valuable to me; like being a good parent means putting your children before your own needs.

Looking back, I'm so glad that even though I was a young pregnant mom who didn't know what she was doing; God knew exactly what He was doing.  I'm so thankful that it takes 9 months to grow a baby, because I needed every minute of those 9 months!  Now my sweet little boy isn't so little any more.  He is 9 years old and almost as tall as me! When I look at him, he is a reminder of God's never ending faithfulness to me.

The Doorbell Rang

The Doorbell Rang

By Patrick Bloom

We always knew we wanted more than two children, and after my wife's unplanned hysterectomy, we began taking steps to adopt through the county's foster adoption program.  After completing our licensing requirements, we both felt uneasy and lacked God's peace that passes all understanding in this process.  Even though we both understood that dropping our license meant no adoptions were possible through the county, we trusted in God's timing and sought His peace.  I recall telling my wife, "If it's meant to be, the doorbell will ring and a baby will be sitting there on the porch with a note stating 'from God'."  

Seven years later after losing our house and being forced to move to a new community and begin attending a new church, a young lady came up to my wife and said, "Would you happen to know anyone that would want to adopt a baby girl that is yet to be born?" That afternoon, my wife told me exactly what had happened at church.  She asked me, "What do you think?"  After seven years of praying and waiting and two boys who were then 15 and 13 I responded by stating, "Well, it sounds like the doorbell just rang."  Without hesitation, we began a walk of faith that culminated in taking our little Naomi Grace home on January 27, 2013, two days after she was born at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, CA. 

To state she's been a blessing these past four years would be an understatement.  She has two big brothers, who adore her, a supportive and loving church family that has embraced her as their own, and a mom and dad who couldn't be more blessed.  Words cannot express my admiration for Naomi's birth mother who courageously decided to give up her girl for adoption instead of terminating her pregnancy.  She knew that the child growing inside of her was a precious life that needed a loving, stable home that she could not provide. 

Our thoughts drift to the future at times wondering when or if Naomi will desire a relationship with her birth mother, but we decided from the beginning to have this an open adoption to allow her birth mother to see her whenever she'd like.  We feared this at first but trusted God that we would have opportunity to minister the gospel of Jesus Christ to a woman who is so desperately lost and struggling in addiction.  Honestly, it's much different playing "horsey" being 47 years old than at 27 years old, but the joy I experience coming home, opening the door, and hearing, "DADDY!" with a huge embrace to follow is more special than words can express.  Sometimes I pause and think about where she'd be if we didn't choose to adopt her.  Then the Lord graciously reminds me about where I'd be if He didn't choose to adopt me into His family.  To God be the Glory.

Stop, Drop and Pray

Stop, Drop and Pray

By Erin Hage

I can remember as a kid my parents involving us (their four daughters) in their prayer time.  They would share with us the needs and our family would come together to pray.  One very specific need stands out. Our car had died and needed a new engine. We prayed, saved, watched and waited.  My dad worked hard picking up overtime and we also put money aside.  When all was said and done the engine cost $4,000 and we had saved $4,036.  Because my parents had us join them in prayer, I understood that all the money provided was from God.

My husband and I want to pass this family tradition along to our children. We want to pray with them more than just a quick prayer at lunch and before bed. We want to invite them into our sweet prayer times with Jesus.  If they get up and I'm still praying, I invite them to join me and pray out loud giving them a chance to pray too. We also thank God for who He is & what He is doing around us.  We constantly say out loud, "Thank you Lord" when we see a blessing from Him during the day.  We found when we acknowledge Him out loud; it helps us to remember all the blessings of the day!

In an effort to involve our kids more, we started a family prayer journal.  We write in our journal things that are on our hearts and things we want Him to change in us.  Then we all get on our knees and pray.  It isn't always deep prayers of confession or intercession.  In fact, Ella our 3 year old, consistently prays for two things: a unicorn and that Satan won't ruin Christmas.  We all giggle a little bit, but in her little heart it's what she wants to talk to God about.  She also prays that God will take away her selfishness and that’s when my heart melts.  It is really such a beautiful thing to hear a child pour their heart out to God.

We are also on an email prayer chain at our church.  When something comes across the prayer chain, we put down whatever we are doing and pray.  If we get a text from someone asking for prayer, we do the same thing, stop, drop and pray.  If we are struggling at doing life together, you guessed it; we pray.
 
It starts with you.  It starts with me.  We should be parents who are committed to prayer.  Let us be committed to raise a generation that is dedicated to prayer.  Let us pray and surrender our children to Him for His use!  I can hardly wait to see how God uses my children for His glory.  I already see glimpses of it as they surrender their lives to Him in prayer.  I don't think that there is anything more important we can teach our children than to cry out to Jesus when times are hard or good. He is my Rock, He is my Redeemer and He is my everything!  I pray that He is my children’s everything too!

A Mom's Consistent Prayer Life

A Mom's Consistent Prayer Life

By Erin Hage

As far back as I can remember, one of the first things I would see each morning was my mom. As I walked down the stairs, ready to start my day, she would be sitting by the fireplace, with her Bible open and her prayer notebook close by. Her day had started hours before. I knew she was praying. I always knew she prayed for me (and still does). She has been a great example to me of what it means to be a prayer warrior. She has fought so many battles on her knees and I'm so thankful for the gift she has given to me-her faithfulness to the Lord. She taught me consistency and a love of talking to Jesus and listening to hear His voice. I know that no matter what time of day, I can always ask her to pray for me and she will.

My dad's life is also marked by prayer. Years ago he made himself (and our whole family) a prayer closet. All over the walls of that closet were beautifully crafted prayers, straight from his heart. He taught me passion in prayer and how nothing is too small to talk to God about. He shared with me how God answers prayer, not always in what we wanted to hear, but always what is best for us. He often reminded me of God's faithfulness to our family.

I have been given one of the most wonderful gifts from both of my parents. It is something that I want to give to my children as well - a consistent and powerful prayer life. Jesus changed everything for me and the very least I can do is praise Him and talk with Him daily. I would never go days or weeks without talking to my husband and expect our relationship to be full and thriving. Same thing with Jesus, we can't expect a full and beautiful relationship with Him if we only run to Him when it gets hard. I really think consistency is the key. 

I wanted to share a few things that I pray for consistently in regards to my kids: 

  1. I pray that they will come to know God, Jesus, the creator of the universe on a personal level. That it will be their OWN relationship with Jesus.
  2. I pray that they will grow in the knowledge of who God is by experiencing Him themselves.
  3. I pray that God would enlighten their eyes so that they would be able to understand and discern the Scriptures. 
  4. I pray that they will be mature in their faith in Jesus far beyond their years and that they would be marked with boldness in sharing Christ with others.
  5. I pray that they will be successful in the eyes of God and not in the eyes of this world and that they would be set aside for His service.
  6. I pray that they would obey God. That whatever He asks of them, they would do. 
  7. I pray that they would know and discern the voice of God and that all the voices of the world would fade away as God speaks to their hearts. 
  8. I pray that God would develop in them a deep love for Jesus. That Jesus would be the driving desire of their hearts.
  9. I pray that God will break their hearts with the things that break His. That when God gives them brokenness, they would surrender to Him and be changed to be more like Jesus through it. 
  10. I pray for their safety, health and protection: spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are so many things we need to be talking to the Lord about when it comes to our kids.  Now it's your turn! What do you ask God for on behalf of your kids? 

Next month I'll share how our kids love to be involved in daily prayer

Our {Upside Down} Christmas List

Merry Christmas! We hope this blog gives you some "food for thought" as your family celebrates our Lord's first Advent. Erin is a wife and mother to four energetic children ages 9, 7, 5 & 3.

My family gets so much joy each year as we write out our Christmas list. I say that it’s our list “turned upside down” because the focus is changed from the things we want and think we need, and it puts the focus on Jesus & others. It’s been a really fun tradition for us!

So here’s how it works. We pray & compile a list of things we’d like to do for others or give to others. Then we make (or buy) little cards to hand out with each thing we do or give explaining the purpose behind what we are doing, which is to make sure Jesus’ birthday is celebrated. So we “do” or “give” in His honor. The idea is a spin off from the thought of doing “random acts of kindness” & we just put our own twist on it for Christmas! Some years we choose 25 things & do one each day leading up to Christmas, some years we only do 5 things. I've found if we keep the list smaller, we can put more effort in to each one! It has been so much fun to see each year how our list turns out as we pray & watch what God does! Here's our list this year:

  • Bake for a stranger & drive around and deliver to someone you see who may need some encouragement & a treat.
  • Bake for neighbors/local friends & deliver.
  • Visit an elderly home & sing a few Christmas songs & make a little craft for them.
  • Visit someone who is unable to make it out because of health reasons.
  • Surprise a friend at work with lunch.
  • Run a treat & note out to the trash man.
  • Send the mail lady (or man) a treat in the mailbox with a note.
  • Help someone with a house project (a random person, or someone we know).
  • Give a large tip at a restaurant & leave a note explaining the tip.
  • Pay for someone’s meal anonymously and ask their waiter to leave them a note with our explanation.  

Do you want to join us by making your own list?! If you do, comment below how God uses your family this season! What are your Christmas traditions? Let us know so we can join your family & share in the joy of seeing God at work during the Christmas season! Merry Christmas from our Life Light family to your family!

Erin Hage

The Patchwork Family

In honor of National Adoption Month we present this true life story from our guest blogger.

 The Patchwork Family

By Molly Barnes Gonzalez

         Now don't get me wrong, I am not one to sew or quilt, hem, or even replace a button, so I am no expert on the topic; but have you ever seen a patchwork quilt, like a really beautiful one? The artistry that goes into a Patchwork (or Pieced Work) is breathtaking, the way they sew together small pieces of fabric into a larger design, each piece carefully measured and cut.  My family is the Patchwork family, many different pieces deliberately chosen by a Creator to be stitched together to make up a complete and beautiful family.  Our larger design is adoption.  Both my older brother and I were adopted at birth,  both from different states, both from different brave young women that hoped for a brighter future for their children, both placed in the arms of the most wonderful parents a child could ask for.  Similar yet so different.  

            Usually when people find out that I am adopted there is a moment of surprise, followed by a little awkwardness, and then the question they all ask... “Have you ever met your real mom/ real parents?”  Or if they have any background knowledge in adoption they refer to them as my biological parents.  This is where it gets sticky, but this is also where the beauty comes from.  Something that many think of as broken, is actually what has made me whole.  “Of course I have met my real parents,” I reply, “They are the ones that raised me. And also I have met my real biological mom, she is a wonderful woman.”  You see in my story and in my patchwork there is no real or fake, no real or make believe.  There is only real and true and lovely and redeemed. 

            My biological mother loved me in a way I will never be able to understand fully.  Putting herself aside, her desires aside, and thinking solely of me and the life she desired for me.  And that teenage girl decided to place me in a home with a loving mother and loving father, a place where she saw for me a future filled with hope.

            My mom and dad (my adoptive parents) also love me in a way I do not fully understand, and until I hold my first child I don't believe I will be able to.  Putting themselves aside daily as I grew and providing a home for me, a place where I felt safe, and a place that let me be a child who dreamed of her future filled with hope.

            Is that not what we all desire?  Is that not what we all want for those we love, and even for ourselves?  A future?  And even more than that a future FILLED WITH HOPE!  No, I am not broken, and my life is not broken.  Since the beginning of time my Savior was perfectly writing my story, giving me a glimpse of the love that He has for me.  And as I continue to grow and learn, I continue to be filled by the promise that I have a future filled with hope.  We are invited to partner with our Lord in the work that He is actively carrying out in our world today.  We are invited to come along side women, children, and families.  And even further than that, make those that are hurting a part of our families.  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friend.  Let's do it. Let's lay aside what we think we know, think we desire, and let's place ourselves in a place of listening.  A place where the Lord can answer us as we pray perhaps the most dangerous prayer of all, “Lord, make my heart a reflection of yours, let your joys be my joys, and let the things that break your heart break mine as well.”  In the world we live in today we are risking living with a broken heart, but let's not leave it there.  Let's join forces to be the answer to that call.  And as my grandfather always said, “If you have a bee in your bonnet, what are you going to do? Leave it in there?  I think not!  You're going to take your bonnet off, you're going to do something about it.”  So, as we allow our hearts to conform to the heart of God, let's let our feet also be His feet.  He doesn't want part of us, He wants all of us.  He gave all of Himself, let's in loving response give all of ourselves as well.

     There is so much more to come, and eagerly I stand here saying, “Here I am, send me.”

 

            “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 a future filled with hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11

Welcome To Our First Blog

Welcome to our blog page and the very first entry! Life Light’s newly redesigned web site has been a work of love! Love of life and love for the Giver of life.  Our Board of Directors had felt for a couple of years that the old site was in need of change, an up to date approach bringing us into the 21st Century.  We are so grateful for the love shown this ministry by the JCI Marketing Team for their listening ears and watchful eyes as they caught the vision for what would be the best “up to date” portrayal of Life Light Pregnancy Help Center.  They visited with us at the office to get the feel of our team and how we go about ministry.  We are so pleased with how JCI captured our essence.  They worked at capturing just the right graphics and words to portray Life Light with warmth and compassion.  We are passionate about helping every client achieve success in their lives and the new website reflects that.   We advocate life, healthy pregnancy and positive parenting skills.  This web site has accomplished the best of what we hoped for. 

We are committed to building a culture that respects life, supports mothers, and nurtures babies at every stage of development.  Our goal is to champion the potential represented by each life.  We strive to be the voice for the defenseless, the LIGHT of truth and life!  We are here to show the love of Jesus, who said, “Let the little children come to me.  Don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to people who are like these children. I tell you the truth, you must accept the kingdom of God as if you were a little child, or you will never enter it.” Then Jesus took the children in his arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them.  Mark 10:14-16

LIFE LIGHT’S VISION STATEMENT

It is our vision to reflect the LIGHT of Christ so that our clients and their children may walk in His truth (3 John vs.4) and embrace the sacredness of life.  Our desire is to equip parents with the tools necessary to become healthy, happy participants in their children’s lives.

We will continue offering help to all who enter our doors, free of charge.  As long as we can, we will remain an all-volunteer staff.  Our volunteers serve in many capacities, using their gifts to minister to our clients and to each other.  From top to bottom or bottom to top we seek to follow the example set before us by our Lord. 

This entry will be the first of many, from many different friends of Life Light Pregnancy Help Center.  All entries will be an aspect of their beautiful life given with perspectives from their own experience. We want our audience to share with us the joys, pains, struggles, excitement, appreciation and love for life; with thanksgiving to the Giver of life and the Author and Finisher of our faith.