Thoughts on What has Shaped my Story

I was recently given the honor of being included in a list of adoptive mom blogs, among which were writers that are so gifted in using their words to reach families and mothers in beautiful ways. This had me reflecting on my own story and how God is equipping me to encourage others. In fact, the concept of "my story" has been drilled into me in the last year because of a group of women that I meet with regularly. How has God been shaping my life and story up until now? What events and relationships have been molding my character, my personality and my activities?

A few things come naturally to mind. First, I am a social worker. This "helping profession" was a natural fit for me in college, and I loved the role of advocate as an employee. It helped our adoption process that I loved detailed paperwork and could understand the process from a professional standpoint. Having competent and sometimes lackluster social workers during our adoption experience prompted me to return to graduate school as a new mom (Israel was home just over a year, and I was pregnant with Edith when I returned to school and earned my Masters of Social Work). I completed an internship at a foster care agency and later worked for the agency on a contract basis writing homestudies. Returning to school and being a working mom for a season definitely stretched me and made me realize that I was capable of doing more than I could have imagined, but also that God has given me unique gifts and that I come alive when I'm doing them. I also realized my limits, that I need help and that I can allow myself to be stretched thin.

Ministry is also something that has been a constant in my life. I grew up in a ministry family, and now I'm married to a pastor in Brooklyn, NY! Being in the "limelight" of ministry has shaped me in countless ways. It's shaped our marriage, the way I parent my children, the way I portray myself to others. It has shown me how to give grace to others and myself. It's taught me the faithfulness of God to us, that my relationship with God is my own and not my parents' or my husband's.

Finally, motherhood has shaped me in the most tremendous ways. I think most parents would say that raising children is the most difficult and challenging accomplishment. I couldn't imagine the love and sacrifice that comes naturally as a parent. I didn't realize how tired and emotional and proud I would constantly feel. Raising my two (soon to be three!) kids is such an honor and gift. Adopting Israel and then him having cerebral palsy (we didn't know this at his adoption) has been so full of all the emotions. We love him so much and cannot imagine life without him - but it has completely rocked us. Because of this boy, I've learned how strong my fight is, how to be vulnerable with others and that it is okay to cry in public when I have nothing left to give. I've learned to set boundaries for our family and to lower my expectations. Israel has made me step into an advocacy role that has unending patience and willingness to make phone calls, have meetings, do research and seek help.

Obviously this is a short summary. I think this last year in Brooklyn has shaped me in the most noticeable ways. The verses that I feel most reflect what God has done is Romans 5:2-5:

"And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." 

This last year has been so good but also very hard. Transitioning to a new city/ life, new aspects of Israel's special needs that have taken a lot of adjusting, raising two spunky kids, my husband adjusting to the senior pastor role - all of these things have played a part in all of the suffering/persevering/character building and hope-pointing! I have been stripped of who I thought I was and what I thought I was capable of. I've seen my sin and my ugly heart. I've felt inadequate and ill-equipped but also honored to be chosen to be in this season with this specific set of circumstances.  I've realized that God has given me bravery and strength that others can see when I feel so weak.

I know that I'm still young (living it up in my last year of 20s!) and there is much to be written in my story. I know that there are new friendships, work opportunities, a new baby! and much more that God will use to shape my character point me towards the hope of Christ.

So I encourage you, whatever season you're in - there is still more of your story to be written, and it is always good to reflect on what God has done to bring you where you are today. Seeing where you have come and who/what has shaped you can make you realize the specific ministry he has given you in this moment. We all have a role and God is shaping each of us daily - are you intentional about realizing what your calling and season is?