Life is a garden, just dig it!

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That’s the description of my blog site on word press. I just realized I’ve never explained it’s significance in the Rhyne house.

Matthew and I started dating in October of 2003. We were madly in love from day one. On Valentines weekend of 2004 we took a trip to WCU to visit some friends for a weekend. We are not romantic, never have been, so we figured a weekend getaway with our buddies was a perfect way to celebrate. That Saturday Matthew gave me a gift and a card. I don’t remember the gift, but oh the card. He had written me the most beautiful words in it, almost a poem, about how great we were together and our paths going forward, how we could face anything as long as we were together. In it, he ended with Life’s a Garden, Dig it. It was the most precious thing I have ever read. He had me hooked for sure. Fast forward a few years. We were married, with now two kids. We are watching tv, and Joe Dirt comes on. Matthew says he loves that movie. I haven’t seen it in years. Joe is doing an interview and gets asked about he handles his life and lo and behold, what does he do but quote my dang poem!!!!!! I about died. Matthew looked at me with giant eyes and LOST it laughing. I told him he would DIE at the number of times over the years I not only bragged on that card, but read it for myself because I just couldn’t believe that he was so thoughtful. And that’s how “Life’s a Garden, Dig it” became the theme for our marriage.

‘Life’s a Garden, Dig it”, that’s how we face every single situation of our lives. Garden’s are work. You have to till the garden. Plant the seeds. Water the garden. Prune the weeds. Pick the bounty. It’s a beautiful picture of life. It takes work, and that work gives reward.

We moved into our forever home last weekend. In the midst of a pandemic, with a looming stay in place order, we found ourselves smiling and full of life and laughter. I have to give a little back story, but I want you to know how we know God works in our lives. Sorry if it gets lengthy.

When Matthew and I were first dating we had lunch at the dixie burger one day. He said look, we gotta go over some things before this thing gets any more serious. I have some conditions. I laughed, he was so for real. He said first, I am never leaving Ellerbe. I agreed wholeheartedly. Second, my firstborn son will be named Coy. I decided I could cross that bridge later and agreed. Third, I want to buy the house next door to my parents, some of our family built it, they are older, when they sell, I want it. I agreed. They listed it in 2005, I was in nursing school, pregnant with Tatum, and we didn’t have a way in the world to buy it. In typical “life’s a garden, dig it” fashion, we knew that wasn’t God’s plan for us and kept on keeping on.

Matthew and I decided we were ready to buy a home in 2008, when I was pregnant with my (what I then thought was) last baby. We had no idea what to do. Started researching home loans and pulling credit, and quickly learned that wasn’t happening. The market was terrible, banks were super strict, and we had a hot mess credit report. Matthew had always bought everything cash, I had been the victim of identity theft and had a mass amount of collections I had no idea about. So we had work to do. We moved in a house on 5th street in Ellerbe, it was owned by Matthew’s aunt and uncle, we worked out rent with a possibility of buying later. After a year we realized that size was not going to work for our growing girls and started looking again. We looked at a few houses and learned again it was still not a possibility for us. We needed a giant house, we had three girls and were feeling led to do foster care. The big houses were so outside of our budget, there was just no way. Then I found our house uptown, my fixer upper dream, that my husband hated I told him to let me make an offer, and if she accepted, it was meant to be. I knew it was mine, I had been praying my head off for an answer, and I felt God leading me. We made a very low cash offer, and it was accepted. We spent the first two years living in the downstairs. It took us ten years to get it to the point I loved everything about it.

Then life happened. After two years of fighting, Matthew’s dad died from a cancer that he planned on beating. Matthew’s brothers both live out of town. Matthew wanted to get close to his mom, to help with with all she was left with, and for future, if and when she ever needed more, we would be close. We started getting our house ready to list, and started looking at what was next. We had six kids at that time, so we moved our camper and kids over to his mom’s and listed the house. Between the camper and his mom’s house, and Kinnley’s granny’s house, we all split and were sleeping under different roofs. In five months, we talked with septic tank people, land clearing people, we went to every double wide dealer, every modular dealer, and multiple builders across North and South Carolina. We even signed paperwork on two!! Each time I had the most uneasy feeling. I knew that was not what God had planned. We sold our house, and I was so uneasy about that too, after three weeks of back and forth, the buyer backed out. We felt like we couldn’t breathe. We KNEW when we started this journey that God wanted us to move, but for the life of us, we couldn’t settle, and our hearts needed to be together, and “US” again. Dillon was reeling, so out of sorts. My girls were quiet and doing uncharacteristic things. Matthew and I couldn’t get on the same page for the life of us. Don’t get me wrong, my mother in law was a SAINT. Side note, she washes clothes and plans meals like a CHAMP! But nothing beats home, and our family unit, we desperately missed both. We prayed and begged God to show us what was next. We got an offer on our house, from someone we knew the next day. We came to an agreement in a few hours, and I felt an immediate peace. The same day, Matthew’s mom’s dog bit the neighbors dog, and they came to her house to see her. Guess where those neighbors lived? You guessed it, the house Matthew wanted ALL those years ago. We told them we were planning on building and had just sold our house. She said, mine has four bedrooms, you wanna come look!? The rest is history.

Last weekend we moved all of our stuff into that house. That house that Matthew dreamed of all those years ago. That house that in a week, has given us a peace that can only come from a God that orchestrates the whole world with his hands, who knew the end of this chapter before we ever were born. While the world is in crisis mode, we are in thankful mode. We are so thankful for our home, our peaceful paradise, that we are literally ordered to stay in. It’s like the ultimate Life’s a garden scenario. We have time to unpack, time to bond, time to breath. Time to worship and pray together. We are making the best of our time together.

Soon, this pandemic will be over, and we will all come out to that busy body life we were leading, and this will all be a distant memory. What a sweet gift God has given all of us in the midst of turmoil. That we have TIME, a gift that you never get back. I encourage you this Palm Sunday, this week of Easter to turn off the news, forget the numbers, bunker down with those you love most. Celebrate Easter in a new way. Tell your kids the story of the Resurrection outside looking at the beautiful blooming world spring has brought. Hug those you live with. Enjoy the downtime. Life’s a Garden, just dig it.

Discipline

Don’t let the title fool you, disciplining children is the least of my great attributes. I am a yeller, and I am horribly inconsistent and over think EVERY decision I make when it comes to discipline! This entry is more about self than anything. Hopefully my thoughts flow.

November is Adoption Awareness Month. Adoption has fascinated me as long as I can remember. It’s funny how I look back now and see it weaved throughout my life. All of the events and memories, people and places, little tidbits, that hindsight 20/20, I now know were all leading up to our story.

Yesterday I made my first post of the month. We just happened to recently have a visit with tummy mom, and I posted about that visit and how good it did my girl’s heart. I got a lot of feedback on my heart, and it’s hard to hear positive things about myself, (side note- it’s not that I am negative, I am WAY too conceited, it’s a Keller girl trait- we blame that on our grandma- she made sure we ALL knew we were the most beautiful and wonderful people on earth LOL), BUT, I never want for anyone to think I am extraordinary, or special or have some mom super powers on this foster care/adoption journey. I talked to my favorite small group last night in our bible study, they assured me it was okay, and that conversation led me to today. (second side note- get you a small group- they are life saving!!!)

My love for Dillon is the same as your love for your kids. It will carry me through any fire that comes our way. Just as you would lay down your life for yours, I lay down mine for her. In her story, that means that I have to die to me, and my selfish desires to be the apple of her eye, and allow someone to share that spot. When we started this journey, I knew I was called to not only do it, but to share it. It’s difficult to share it all, because the majority of that story is hers, and it’s theirs, and I would never want to steal or tarnish that for them. I do though, want to give enough insight that can share where my strength and love comes from, and how I cultivate that.

And that’s where the discipline comes in. I love Jesus more than anything and anyone. He teaches me that I am to LOVE above all, to love the hurting, the oppressed, the poor, the weak, the hard hearted, the widow, the NEIGHBOR, all the neighbors. So I do. Foster care is how He chose for me to live that out best in my life. Through that came an adoption, and He has given me so much grace, and hope and love to share. That’s the key though, it’s HIS through me. Because me, Jennifer, is hard hearted and hard headed and I want to scream some days and shake people. But instead I choose to pray, to listen, and to allow Him to work through me. And that requires discipline. A decision to wake every single day and talk to Him, to read His word and allow it to soak into my spirit. To breathe in a situation and allow the holy spirit to guide my next sentence or move. I am silent a lot in my older age, and it’s because I have learned, through discipline, to be still and wait on His direction. I fail at this daily, just so you know, but I still try again at the next time. When I allow Him to work in and through me, I have a softer heart. I am able to feel with the love He has for His people and it grows my love.

My picture attached to this blog came from my girl’s parents. It is one of my most treasured ornaments. Dillon needs to know she is loved, and she needs to know that she is loved by everyone that should love her. Through open adoption, I am able to allow her to see that love, to feel that love. In turn, I have a love for two families that I would have never likely crossed paths with, and they love us too. Love makes the world good. If we could all love one another despite, think of what a wonderful place it would be.

So in case your foster/adopt heart is stirring, I wanted you to know that I am still me. Just Jennifer, I am judgemental and hateful and have to keep myself in check every second of every minute. I am not a super mom, I am not an adoption queen or foster care goddess. I just listen when I am spoken to, and I grasp to the strings of my Father’s robe all day every day.

A Different Perspective on this Memorial Day.

Ya’ll are gonna have to bare with me on this one…my thoughts are jumbled and a mixture of years of watching things unfold and praying for a way to make our voice heard.

It’s Memorial day, in which we remember the fallen soldiers that gave their lives for our freedoms. Without going into opinions and politics on Covid, because my heart is ALL over the place on that particular subject, I do think that my thoughts and thankfulness for those freedoms is more present now than ever.

We watched a movie a few weeks ago. We love Denzel Washington so we typical stop our scroll if we see his name. We had never heard of this movie, but it was called Glory. It is a story about the 54 union regimen. Look it up and watch it. We can talk about it at another date.

I was thinking this morning of all the American soldiers that had lost their lives and I started googling. I am a google addict. If you ask my mom she will tell you I have been as long as she can remember- it just wasn’t always google. We had a set of Encyclopedias when I was little. We were dirt poor, so I can’t even imagine how we got those things, but they were my golden prize. They sat on the bottom shelf of a brown bookcase. I LOVED those books. I would be in bed and jump out to look up something. I would play outside and see something that caught my eye and I would run inside to look it up. I would hear grownups talking about things I didn’t understand, and I would flee to the brown bookshelf. I am the same today. I look things up on google probably 20-30 times a day. I have Attention Deficit Disorder, and I can’t focus for long on much, so anytime something pops in my head, I look it up. I have screen shots out my ears. So anyway, I this morning I looked up African American soldiers. They have served in EVERY American war. Many of them have lost their lives, and their names are recorded. We wouldn’t know that they were that race, because that information wasn’t allowed to be recorded. In one sense I like that- because in war, you are brothers, and I pray that as they fought those battles together, that they went down like that, as brothers, in unity, and with no color to be seen. History tells me that I am naive and that’s impossible, but my love for others wishes that nonetheless.

I told you this one would be hard to follow, so just stay with me. If you have ever met my Tatum, especially when she was younger and was naive to the world we live in hadn’t started seeping into her thoughts and realizations, you would know that she is different. We noticed within the first few weeks that she was. Tatum never wanted to be hugged or touched, she liked to nurse and then lay on the floor. She didn’t like loud people. She also didn’t like anyone big, no one really tall, no one very overweight. She would coward away from people and hide behind Matthew and I. She also didn’t talk much. She just kind of sat in silence and took it all in. We noticed her love for blackness very early on in life. We would go on vacation, to a birthday party, to a restaurant, and Tatum would always find a black family and just jump in to whatever they were doing. She was enamored by them, their culture, their lifestyle. Around age two we laughed about it, not in a derogatory way, but we knew without a shadow of a doubt that she was going to cross cultural boundaries and that she was going to do her part to change the world and that made our hearts soar.

I wasn’t raised to look on anyone any different for their skin color. My mom was a military brat. Her daddy served with his brothers of all races without thought. My mom lived on military bases all of her life, she also just loved people for who they were.

Before I start the next part I want you to know something. This is not your “love is colorblind” post. I do believe that love is for all, and that God loves us all more than anything and not one more than the other, the Bible clearly tells us so. I also KNOW that Jesus isn’t a pasty white man. I have eyes, and there are people of color all around me. Black people don’t need us to see them as no color, or as “the same” as us. They need us, white folks I am talking to you, as they are, black, with different ideas and thoughts, and cultures that deserve to be seen, loved and respected just like everyone else.

The first time I remember knowing there was a difference between white and black, I was in the sixth grade. I spent the majority of my elementary years in Rowan county, and it was predominantly white. I looked back to confirm in one of my annuals, there was two black kids, one black teacher in the school. K-5. When I wasn’t there, I was with my dad in Alabama, Louisiana, Germany and Texas, where, you guessed it, he served in the Military and we lived among all races. I don’t remember knowing anything different than people were people until I was about 11. We lived in a rural community in Orange county, NC. We rode a bus in middle school that shared with the high school kids. That day on the bus I was talking with a guy named Kelvon, and I can’t even remember what we were talking about, it was school related and I had the answer at home, so I told him to call me when he got off the bus and I would tell him what I found. He did call me when he got home, and my stepdad answered the phone. The conversation went south really quick and ended with a statement to me about black boys calling our house. I just remember thinking “what just happened”.

Disclaimer: I love my step dad with my whole heart, and his way of thinking is something that has been passed down the line generation after generation, as many folks have and continue to do so today, in both races. Part of me writing this is because I believe with my whole heart that this is part of my calling, to make people think and learn enough to start breaking some chains and stopping some cycles. Look up Toby-Mac- Starts With Me (Story Behind the Song) on YouTube, and then listen to the song. That’s what we feel called, us at the Rhyne house, to share and do.

After that phone call I remember my eyes just being opened to life and the coldness and hate that I never realized was there. I remember some of that even rubbing off on me and my thoughts wandering to maybe I was missing something. Shortly after that incident we moved to Ellerbe.

If you have never lived in Ellerbe, for a long period, of don’t have close friends here, you don’t really know what it’s like. We are a family. In a like live off the grid only trust each other type of way. Our schools were made up of Ellerbe and Hoffman kids. And in Ellerbe, we saw no color. At least in my eyes we didn’t. My best friends were black and white and we all loved each other fiercely. We spent the night at each other’s houses and we played together, we prayed together, we sang and laughed and we cried and mourned together. We were family. If you see us at the Parson’s Field today, you will see the Keller girls and the Spencer girls, we laugh and fight, we literally tell our kids that they are cousins, and we mean it, because even in our arguments, those girls are our sisters and we are theirs. I remember going to Richmond and the very first day seeing the divide between black and white. I remember vividly going to my locker and a senior saying something to me about my locker and being in his way, and he said something to the effect of “little white girl” and I was like whatttttt? My friend Shemia Evans was beside me and was the same, except she was brave enough to say “shut up and get away from us”. Richmond was hard for us Ellerbe kids. In more ways that one. But noting that racial divide was huge for me. I was lost in that, in what to do, how to stop it and how to not let it change me.

When Matthew and I started dating, we didn’t go out much, not like to movies and to eat. We would grab a drink of choice, and a sandwich and ride back roads. We logged more hours than I could ever dare to count just riding or sitting somewhere in a car and talking. We talked all the time about everything and anything. We had this conversation more than once about race. One time I asked him what he would do if his child dated outside of his race, and he answered that he could care less what the person looked like, he wanted to make sure his kids never dated outside of their belief in God, because that was what makes a difference in life. We talked that day about black/white and things that are handed down from generation to generation. He truly believed in not passing that down to his kids.

Tatum started the ninth grade academy last year. Matthew and I sat her down to warn her that her world may look different than it ever has. We told her to stay true to her friends and to those she loves and we told her to ALWAYS stick up for anyone that needed it. She didn’t let NGA change her a bit. But she did quickly see a change in some of her friends. She came home visibly upset one day, actually, for lack of better terms she was pissed. So much that she was in tears and was shaking. If you know her, that’s not her. She is happy, bubbly and loves everyone. It was in January, just a few months ago in reality, but ages ago in the midst of a pandemic. She had changed semesters and she changed lunches. She was actually excited the day before because her lunch was different and she was getting to see some of her Ellerbe and Raider football friends. This day though, she was devastated because a group of white girls were sitting a table back and she could hear their words. She said that some of them were the cheerleaders, and popular girls. They were talking about some of the black people at her table. She said she was so mad she didn’t know what to do, and she was physically sick. It was the first time she has ever seen or heard anything from her own eyes and ears and it broke her heart, literally. She said she was disappointed that the same girl that was friends with everyone at Ellerbe was now too good for anyone that looked different than her, and she was sick that there were cheerleaders that are supposed to be good role models and a pep for the whole school sitting in on and participating in that. She told me the other day that she didn’t think she would try out for cheer this year and that was why. Cheer is her life, and that makes me sick. She won’t tell me who the people were, because she knows me well enough to know that I would blast them and their parents, and I wouldn’t think a second thought about it. She is praying for their eyes to be open and praying for a way to talk to them that isn’t confrontational but that actually makes them stop, think and change. I told you she was different….

Kinnley shared the Toby Mac video I referenced earlier to me a few days ago. She and I were talking about the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. I told her that I didn’t care what other videos surfaced of that man. I didn’t care if he robbed every home on the block and the four surrounding ones, no one gets to be a judge and jury to someone running on the street. We talked about how white people always jump to “he’s a bad person” mode when something like that happens. That led us to a great conversation in which she was able to tell me so many things. Kinnley is a white girl, who has been best friends with a black boy since they were four years old. They invited another black girl into their group in second grade and the three have been inseparable since. They are all in different directions now with college and jobs, but they always make time together on each others birthdays, holidays and anytime something happens to the other, the other two come running. Kinnley talked a lot about the looks and comments they have had to block out over the years, from family, friends and strangers. She also talked in depth about some of the experiences her best friends have had as opposed to how she has experienced them.

When Kinnley graduated a few years ago we had a party. Her and Shemiya and Jaylin were getting ready to leave and they were giving goodbye hugs. Kinnley hugged my grandma and grandpa and Jaylin was standing near her. My grandpa held his arms out and said “well, come give me a bye hug” to Jaylin. My grandparents live out of town so he had never met them in person. It literally shocked him, that an old white man would open his arms to hug him. I could see it all over his face. I equally could see my grandpa hugging his first great granddaughters best friend with all of the love he had without a second thought. Moments like that stick with me, because they are the ones where I am reminded that not everyone sees the world as we do. And that the world I live in is different for me, for my girls, and my husband. We have something called “white privilege”. ( don’t lose me here, I know that phrase strikes a chord with some folks)

White people immediately go on the defense when they hear the phrases “black lives matter” and “white privilege”. I want to share something with you. My prayer is more than anything, that you listen because I am a white girl, married to a white guy, with a house full of white kids. And that somehow in our “whiteness” you will be able to hear or understand something that you refuse to from a black person.

When Kinnley got her license, a friend of ours’ son was getting his too. We were sitting upstairs in the parent viewing area at a cheer practice laughing about how fast they grew up and how worried we were going to be with them on their own out and about. We were talking about what all we had talked to them about. I was telling her about putting pepper spray in Kinnley’s car, explaining to her what to do if she had a flat tire. Cici was talking about some of the same and then said that she and her husband had sat her son down the night before to talk to him about what to do if he got pulled over. I may be wrong, but we were pretty close, I don’t think she was telling me this because I was white, it was a flawless back and forth conversation, and she was just talking. She said that they talked to him about putting his license and registration in his sun visor, and to make sure when the officer came to the window to have both of his hands on the wheel and to tell him where his info was before he reached for it. She said all of that together and then kind of looked over at me, maybe with a I know response, or maybe for me to tell something else, I am not sure. I do remember vividly tears pouring from my eyes. And realizing once again, that there is a such thing as color, and I have never ever EVER thought about having that conversation with anyone, much less doing it myself, and that my friends, is white privilege.

White privilege does not mean you haven’t ever experience anything, and it doesn’t mean that you don’t have problems, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be poor or that everything is handed to you. It means that you cannot see the world through a black person’s eyes. And that there are circumstances and things that happen that no matter how hard we try we cannot see them as they are because we have never experienced that.

Black lives matter, doesn’t mean that any others lives don’t matter. It means that their lives matter too. If you go to the ER with a bleeding spleen, broken leg and a bruised face and the doctor spends his visit examining your bruised face and fixing your broken leg but never looks at your bleeding spleen, you’re going to die. It doesn’t meant that your broken leg and bruised face don’t matter, but if your bleeding out spleen is not fixed, the rest is irrelevant. When I say black lives matter. I don’t mean that police officers don’t. I have MANY officer friends, black, white and asian. None of them matter any less than me. If you take the time to research the Black Lives Matter movement, it is a peaceful movement. Those that aren’t peaceful as far as violence go, do not represent all black people. Same as KKK doesn’t represent all white folks.

Do you realize that segregation was not into actual effect everywhere until 1954. That is SIXTY SIX years. That is NOT that long ago. Of course there is still a discord, and distrust and a thought process in both races minds. In the same breath 66 years is TOO long for there still to be a divide between us, too long for someone not to be speaking up on both sides to make a change.

I don’t know what my role is in this world. But I know that I always choose to speak out on topics that break my heart and that lay heavy on my heart. This is one of those topics. This is something we discuss on a regular basis with our girls. Teaching, discussing, and listening. If it’s that important to us in raising our children, I feel it is equally as important for us as a family to speak out on. I pray that you have been able to take something away from this that makes you study, google, think, pray, maybe even change. I may have offended you so much that you never want to hear from me again, and if so, I am okay with that as well. I just know that I have an opportunity to write and share, and if I can use that in any way, shape or form to bring a different view or light to a subject, then that’s my responsibility.

Real love.

May is foster care awareness month. Last year I did a wonderful daily post showing all sides of everything. I had the intention to do that this year, but as with everything, COVID. LOL. I keep thinking there will be a day in the future we laugh about this whole experience, but right now it’s just so much to process and live with. I have been lacking on my foster care awareness, but I have felt the tug to blog about adoption all month. I have avoided, because that’s a hard subject for me to write on- that’s not all MY story, and it’s foster care month, adoption awareness month is in November. But in typical God fashion, when He lays something on my heart, I am constantly reminded that what He wants me to do rarely ever goes along with what my plans to do are.

Saturday mornings are typically my favorite. I am an early bird, I don’t like to talk, or interact, mostly to just sit in silence. Read a blog, or book, do some bible time, just be quiet with no hustle and bustle. Since COVID, these quiet moments are even more sacred to me. This morning I was scrolling Instagram and saw an odd post from one of my favorite adoption blogs. She is a wonderful mother that has been blessed with children through adoption and has found an unwavering relationship with the Father through that process. Her post was about her youngest son’s birthday and it talked about the last five days being so awful, I immediately scrolled down to her last post, and learned their oldest son had died last week due to an accident….he was 10. She has been his mom through foster care and adoption for three years.

This was my confirmation that I had something to say and now was the time to say it. I don’t know who this is for. I don’t know why I feel led to say it. But here goes.

Adoption is the scariest thing I have ever done in my entire life. I leaned on God like I have never ever ever leaned on Him before. What I have learned is that adoption is a beautiful picture of the gospel. Just like the cross it is all wrapped in thorns, in scars, in love and in sacrifice, on so many sides. I don’t want to share our story. I just want to share a few things I feel should be said out loud.

One of the many things said to us when they find out we do foster care and have adopted is: which ones are really yours? THEY ALL ARE. It is so hard, especially with my personality – not to give the a rude answer. Most of the time they get the three words and an eye roll. But I want to try and explain this here. And I pray that it reaches a heart that is unsure, or maybe a wondering heart, one that has considered adoption but is fearful. So for the mom who never had a baby in her womb. Or a mom who is feeling led to open her heart and home but is unsure she has enough to give. I want to give you some truth, and brutal honesty that I pray my children don’t hate me for later.

Of all my children, I love Dillon in a way I have never loved a child. I love ALL of my girls. They are all precious, irreplaceable gifts from God. I can distinctly remember times for each one of them that I clearly saw His face, and His grace poured out on me in them. For Dillon, every single moment, I feel and see that face and grace.

I never wanted more kids. I felt very clearly led to do foster care to help heal broken families. I believe with all of my heart that breaking the cycles of addiction, prejudices, abuse and trauma are how we help heal the world. I believe that none of those can be broken and forgotten without the love of Jesus, and I felt that call, to be a part of that for a long time.

I also have made the statement to Matthew that I just wasn’t sure how you could love a child as your own and not play favorites if they weren’t really yours, that you didn’t make and carry them. Hindsight 20/20, I usually eat words like that, the ones that only Matthew knows me well enough to hear and not judge…this time is no exception.

When I picked up Dillon, in all of her 4lb self up for the first time and put her on my chest, my world was never the same. I think maybe I took my babies for granted. For my entire life, I knew, planned, pretended and prayed, that I would marry the man of my dreams and we would have babies. I didn’t do everything in that order, but I did it nonetheless. So even though there were glimpses of Him in my journey, everything I had was expected. It was part of my journey. People get married, people have babies. Circle of life. With Dillon, I had to give every single ounce of my trust and hope to Jesus. I had no way of knowing what her future held. No way of knowing what our future was with, or without her. In that process, I have found that I don’t take a second of her for granted.

Last Friday night she had a particularly rough night sleeping and woke up ill as a hornet at 630am Saturday, which meant no blissful silent time for me and a early Saturday wake time for her daddy. I said out loud to Matthew, imagine what our life would be like at this point in parenting if we didn’t adopt, and we laughed for a second, our oldest has moved out. Our two middles are in the stage where they only come out of their caves to eat or ask to go to a friends’ house. They would prove to be no different that day, coming downstairs at 1130am. We giggled and immediately said we would be so lonely and bored. Dillon can drive us up a wall most days. She has womb trauma that will haunt her for some years, so she has needs and quirks that require more than your typical kid. But she fills each day with joy, with challenges, with silly words and endless mommmyyyy and dadddyyyyy calling. I hashtag a lot of her pics with “we could have missed this” and I truly feel those words in her darkest times and her brightest times. She is all I never knew I couldn’t live without.

To get to some insight for all this rambling… I want to say this.

For the mom that has never carried a baby in her belly, but has walked through the fire to gain one through adoption. I want to say to you, that you didn’t miss anything. And I don’t mean that disrespectful or like I am dismissing an empty womb, I don’t know what not having that feeling is like. BUT what I KNOW, is that you LOVE your child just as much as if you carried them. Honestly, if I am 100% truthful, I think you love them more than you would if you carried them. You gave all of yourself, with reckless abandon to know the joys of holding them in your arms. You gave that without any guarantee of the future, with all the knowns thrown out the window. You, momma, are the very best of moms. You are aware of how perfect your stories lined up to give you the opportunity to be mother and child. You couldn’t love them more, I pinky swear.

For the ones that ask us crazy questions about the difference and who is who, and how we “got” our kids. We love them all. They are all ours. We feel no different about any of them.

I am going to take this a step further.

For the step parent: I can remember very vividly when Matthew fell madly in love with Kinnley, and when she found a trust in him that she had never found before. I watched them in awe, but in the hard times, I always remember thinking, he could never love her like me. She was mine in a way she would never be his. We had a few of those conversations and I remember one was an argument, in which he said, if anything ever happens to you or to us, I will walk through fire, hell itself if I have to, to stay her daddy, no one will keep me from her. I never understood that until I held Dillon. He was right, there is nothing that would stop me from being her parent. And there is nothing that would stop him from being either Kinnley or Dillon’s daddy.

For the birth mom. You may have sacrificially made the decision to give your baby up. You may have had to have your baby taken because you couldn’t break the cycles and chains that are your life. You momma, also have a love that is incomprehensible. Lots of folks would argue me to my grave on that one. But I stand firm in this. You chose life. You chose to carry a baby that you weren’t prepared to have. In your darkest moments, their little faces are there, and you love them. This momma will always remind her girl of that.

To my blogger friend, who has just buried one of the greatest treasures she held on earth, I pray you feel God’s arms wrapping around you tight. I pray you know that the love you shared, and more importantly, the Jesus you showed, means that your boy is being held up close in tight in a place that is so much more than what we have here.

Adoption is beautiful, making a family of what wasn’t, finding redemption in situations that weren’t ideal. In all the beauty, there is brokenness. There is a family that wasn’t, that couldn’t, a family that was and that could, and in all of that there are two sides that love.

Shattered

Since Coronavirus hit the US, I have been in limbo. A constant busy. Working two jobs. Two jobs that literally change every couple of hours each day as new info comes down the healthcare pipeline. We have been moving in, unpacking, decorating. I’m so thankful for the downtime with my crowd, but at the same time have an underlying fear and anxiety of the virus. I don’t watch much tv, and don’t say much regarding it at home other than wash your hands. I’ve just been keeping normal at the best way I know how.

On top of that, we now have kids home schooling. I’ve homeschooled before, it wasn’t my cup of tea. I’m a nurse, with one cell of patience in my personality. This time it’s better, the lessons have been so graciously handed to my kids on a silver platter by their amazing educators who are going above and beyond their call of duty at this time as well. Who have reached out to me all hours of the day and night.

I would say we have just kind of been in survival mode for the last few weeks. I picked up my kids packets the week before we moved in, one kid was staying with my mom, one with Matthew’s mom and one in daycare all day because we are working. We didn’t do much more than glance at those packets. Fast forward a week, we loaded up our house into a big car trailer and began moving in our new home. Our new home that is still fairly upside down. We literally found our packets last week. I instructed the big girls that their work was on canvas. I did a piddly attempt at downloading some apps onto an app for the elementary schooler and sat her at the bar for an hour in front of it, for two days. I asked the girls every day if they did their work when I got home from work, and they said some… I finally reached out to everyone’s teachers Monday. I checked in, tried to get a sense of what we were supposed to be doing and discovered my self learners hadn’t been doing much learning. I fussed, they cried, and they headed back upstairs to buckle down. Three seconds later I heard a panicked “MOMMA” calling me, followed by fast footsteps. Tatum had stomped up the steps angry, tripped over something in her room sending her touch screen school issued laptop smashing into her 100 year old iron bed frame. I looked at it and said well that’s what happens when you are angry, and asked if it still worked, it did, so I sent her back upstairs to work. I was in a room putting together furniture with Kinnley who I think was expecting me to blow, so she was silent, although I could see her watching me (probably thinking I would have killed her if she did that). I called the school, who sent me to IT, who will be replacing the screen today. I’m usually a yeller, so I think because I was not screaming the girls were all scared to talk lol. I didn’t really know why I wasn’t ready to kill her, I just wasn’t, so I kept on working.

An hour later Tatum came downstairs. She looked defeated and tired. All the girls were in the room with me. I said what’s wrong? And she said “Mom, I’m tired, this is not how I want to do school”. That’s all she had to say. I immediately knew why God didn’t let me get angry earlier. Kinnley is finishing her last semester of classes, next semester she has an internship and then she graduates. She has written four 8+ papers this week. That’s not how her last semester of classes should go. She should be sitting in front of her favorite instructor asking questions and engaging in dialogue. Tatum made the JV soccer team and has enjoyed her time at NGA so much, making friends and bonding with her teachers. She should be in school, making tik toks with friends and practicing soccer so she can get better to get more playing time, she should be sitting the bench cheering on her friends with her wonderful “team” attitude. She should be pulling her softball gear out and be practicing for rec ball with all her Ellerbe friends. Parker should be finishing her AIG testing, playing soccer for her very favorite teacher Mr Anderson, loving on all of her friends, and hugging everyone she sees because she loves to love on people. Dillon should be able to scream “I want MeMe” and get her. While this mom has been in “nurse” mode, thinking of the what if’s, bossing all my friends and family around about the importance of social distancing, the world my kids know has been shattered.

I’ve never been known for my sympathy skills when it comes to family. I’m an incredible nurse, and I love my patients and their families, and I give them everything I have. In my real life I’m terrible about that, I don’t know if I use all my reserve for work, but my patience is lacking and so is my sympathy when it comes to people close to me. I’m a suck it up buttercup kinda gal. In my defense, I think that comes from what I do, my jobs are assisting medically fragile children to remain in their homes with their families and taking care of hospice patients. Both of these populations deal with incredibly hard day to day lives and I think that makes me have difficulty sympathizing when day to day bothers/worries/stresses wreck people. I’m a glass half full kinda girl, so when I see people with glasses half empty I have no tolerance. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes it’s bad, the good news is, at least as my friend or family member you always know where I stand lol!

When I saw Tatum’s face yesterday, I knew I had missed something big in my house. I missed their fear, their misunderstanding. Their everyday is different. They haven’t been out of our home in three weeks. I don’t cook, I hate cooking, but I have cooked almost every night. They haven’t sat at the bar at Ellerbe Springs or laughed loudly at the table at Taco Loko. They haven’t walked in Food King or Dollar General and talked to everyone we knew on every isle. They haven’t been to the ball field. Their friends haven’t been over and they haven’t been to their homes. Most importantly they haven’t seen or touched their youth group, that giant group of boys and girls they love with their entire hearts, in a month. All of this happened with no warning, no preparation. Nothing. And that, is DETRIMENTAL to young people. I’ve studied life stages, developmental stages of life. They aren’t ready for this, they are not equipped to deal. They aren’t okay.

So, with that being said. I will be changing my schedule. I will be sitting at the table and doing school work with them. I will teach them how to write actual letters and cards and how to use the USPS to contact people you can’t see. I will be having more conversations to describe what’s going on in our world with them. I will do my very very best to help them comprehend. I will do it without screaming or dismissing them. And we will make good memories, that one day they can share with their kids and grandkids.

Y’all, we are all just doing our best here. From the President and his staff, to the state and his staff, to the local government and their staff. The healthcare workers, the lawmakers, the school staff, the grocery store workers, the mailman. We are all living in a world we have never seen. We are dealing with something we have never dealt with. That’s stressful, and it’s scary. I have been so fortunate to meet on a Zoom meeting twice a week with my Sunday school/small group folks, and we have discussed a few times how we can’t imagine dealing with all of this without knowing that there is God, behind the scenes, knowing every step, every obstacle and every outcome. This Easter week and every other week that follows, that’s Who we will be focusing on, the One who holds us all in His hands. Who gives us an eternal assurance, that will overcome anything this world has to throw at us. It’s okay if you are shattered too, cut yourself some slack, and just breathe.

Raising Children is like being pecked to death by Chickens

I read that title on a sign in a friends house when my oldest daughter was three. Her boys were a little older, elementary age, and I remember laughing so hard when I read it. It was forever etched into my mind. There have been many days over the last 16 years that I either said that statement out loud, or wrote it as my Myspace, Facebook or Twitter status. Some days are harder than others. Some stages are harder than others. Some kids are harder than others. But at the end of the day, us parents, we are all just trying to keep our heads above water.

I had a circumstance this weekend that has just left me kinda raw in my emotion, so I thought that it was a perfect time to write it down. Not to call anyone out, or to name names, but to tell you all that it’s TOUGH out there, and we gotta have each other’s back. We also gotta be real, face the harsh realities and truths, no matter how much we don’t want to.

I want to share this for many reasons. I want to share it because I don’t ever want anyone to think they can’t talk to me. I want to share it because I don’t ever want anyone to think things are perfect here at the Rhynes. I want to share it because we have to start telling, sharing, bonding, and standing firm in our raising of these kids. IT TAKES A VILLAGE. I don’t want to do this alone. I don’t want to feel as if I am barely holding my head above water. I want you to tell me when my kids have screwed up, and then I want you to hold my hand and tell me about the time yours did and how you handled it. What I don’t want to do is embarrass my child. But if it does, then that is okay too. It wouldn’t hurt to have a little shame this day and age.

This weekend one of my daughters PAID her friend to get her a disposable vape pen….. Let that sink in a minute. She manipulated her friend, who would do anything for her, to buy a wanna be jolly rancher flavored stick with FIVE percent nicotine. Why? Because all of her friends at school do it and she just wanted to have one too. I CANNOT EVEN WITH THAT STATEMENT. I am beyond irritated. Not even mad really. Just aggravated. I know that I did things growing up. BUT DANG, I raised mine NOT to. I talk about it ALL the time. About not fitting in, being born to shine, their freaking bedrooms are like Hobby Lobby isles with inspirational “be you, be awesome, I am woman, Child of God” crap. And yet here we are. And don’t you know that little princess of mine lied to me too, she denied that like Bill Clinton denied his under the desk friend when I was in high school. Right in my face denied. (side note- my Ellerbe Jr High English teacher, Marsha Lambeth would murder this blog for my speech, punctuation and terrible flow) But y’all, she bold faced lied to me. With a sweet innocent blue eyed pink lipped face. I knew it in my heart. I didn’t want to though.

Luckily the way the bust went down, I knew who else was involved. And that leads to the beautiful part of my story.

I shot a quick text to the other mom. The person my kid said she was “holding” it for. Told her one of our two was the owner, but mine wasn’t budging. I got a call about 10 minutes later. Her baby folded way quicker than mine. (our end result, I hope is, that she gives me some lessons on how she made that happen so fast) I called mine in and gave her another chance, and she folded, now that she knew I knew. MAN I didn’t want to hear that, not from that mom or from my kid. NO PART of me wanted to accept the fact that my child had done that. And I could have very well taken her first answer as gospel. Grounded her, and forbid her to hang out with this friend because there was an influence there. And y’all, I WANTED to. God kept tugging and nudging me, and I waited about an hour before I sent that mom a text. I know that when she got mine, she was likely feeling the exact same as me. “Not my child, that was her child”. She won this round LOL, it was mine. But we both won, because we together, found the truth, and handled our children. We didn’t accuse, we didn’t deny, we found the truth, we punished our kids for what they did wrong, and we talked to them and each other.

Somewhere in our culture there has come this shift, where teachers and elders are wrong, and kids are right. Where parents accuse other children, teachers, or leaders for their child’s wrongdoings. This shift is ruining our kids. It’s ruining us. It’s making us be ruled by these sassy, smart mouth, know it all kids, that literally know nothing. It’s awful! I want my babies to be perfect. Oh how I wish they would do no wrong and make me look like the best mom on the planet. BUT they are kids, they are supposed to screw up, and we are supposed to catch them in it, punish them for it, teach them right, and then laugh about it when their kids act stupid. We can’t do this if we feel we are constantly in competition with one another to be the best mom of the best kids. We gotta be honest guys, we gotta be willing to push harder, to share the hard stuff, to have the hard times, and to hold each others hand through it all.

It’s Gotcha Day!

October 5 will probably forever be my favorite day on earth. It’s the day my entire world, view, and life changed, and that change is forever. Three years ago on October 5th, I got out of bed at about 5am and told Matthew I couldn’t take it anymore. You see, the day before, I met the most beautiful, tee tiny little girl that I couldn’t get off of my mind. I didn’t know why, and he rolled his eyes and huffed a very disgruntled sound at me and went right back to sleep. Little did he know, in about 12 hours, he was going to have the same feeling!

I got a call on October 4th, asking me to take a baby that was in the hospital. She had been in NICU for 3 weeks. She was almost ready to come home and they wanted her here, she was tiny, a preemie and I was a nurse. I immediately said yes. Which is a NO NO. I always get details and call Matthew and discuss prior to giving an answer when DSS calls. I said no, then yes, then no, then yes, until the worker said, “I’m confused, which one is it?”, I said yes and hung up the phone. My heart was racing and I had no idea why. I didn’t tell Matthew until dinner, and he was livid. He said “I don’t know what you are thinking, we don’t want a baby, we never said we would take that age. You better call her back, we are not doing that, and if you bring her home I am not doing a THING!!! I will not change a diaper, I will not make a bottle, I will not hold a screaming baby, I am not doing this” (that part still makes me giggle when I think about how ragged she runs him on a DAILY!).

I went to the NICU on October 4, 2016. I told the desk who I was and they pointed to a room. There in a clear bassinet was the tiniest little baby all wrapped up. A head full of dark hair. I didn’t ask anyone a thing, I just picked her up and we snuggled into the rocking chair. The doctor came in after a few minutes and told me to hold her close and to let her lay on my skin, she needed to bond. OH MY MOMMA HEART!!! In that moment I knew that I loved that kid more than life itself, and no matter what happened, and how long she was in my house, I would ALWAYS be a part of her. She didn’t weigh enough to come home, and I was crushed to leave her. I came home around 7pm, and I did nothing but look at her pictures until 5am the next morning. I couldn’t take it anymore, and I went back for some more snuggles.

We came home on October 5th. I had my mom take the girls to cheer because I couldn’t leave her. When they got home and walked through the door and saw her, they all were in tears. Our girls loved her just as quickly as I did. Matthew just stared at the TV LOL. I asked him if he could hold her while I showered after the girls went to bed. By the time I got out of the shower, he was hooked too. She has had him wrapped around her tiny little fingers since.

Three days after I got Dillon, I called my sister in law and swore her to secrecy. I had gone into a store, and there was a book that was titled “You Belong Here” by M.H. Clark, I was in tears, and had bought it. I told her that I knew in my heart that this was my baby and she was meant to be mine, and I didn’t know how that would happen, she had family, and she had siblings, and she was wanted, but I knew she was mine. She told me that if I believed that was God’s plan, that we would claim it, in His name, until the day she was. And that’s what I prayed, for two solid years. There were lots of ups and downs, and even in my wanting for her, I prayed so hard for her parents, and for their success. I know, to this day, that was the right thing to do. And had that been the plan for her life, God would have seen me through it.

Last year, the day before Thanksgiving, we signed the paperwork for Dillon to become an official Rhyne. It was a beautiful day, but in all that happiness for us, I was crushed for her parents. This whole thing has taught us so much about life and people. Dillon is such a blessing to our lives. Her whole story is not mine to tell. It’s hers, and her birth parents. This is my tiny part in it. God not only gave me Dillon, but he gave me a love for her family, and a task, to be transparent and an advocate for open adoption. Dillon will always know where she came from, and how much she was and is loved. She has a huge family, and they are always welcome in our homes and in our lives. I can give Dillon the world on a silver platter, but she will always have a space that I cannot fill. I believe in ALL of my heart and soul, that she will be a better person and she will live a better life, knowing who she is, who ALL of her is, every part. What she decides to do with that information will always be up to her. For now, we are going to learn it together, we are going to take it day by day, and we are going to love with all our might. We are going to do our very best to see things through the eyes of Jesus and not our own. We know that there is a plan for this wild girl of ours, and we can’t wait to watch it all unfold.

Happy Gotcha Day Dillon Ruby Rhyne, aka Dill Pickle. Thank you for opening our eyes to a world we never knew. Thank you for filling our house with giggles and screams, with sleepless nights and fun filled days. I love everything about you. The headstrong attitude you got straight from your tummy mommy that keeps me on my toes ALLLLLLLL the time, your silly personality, that you get from your Daddy Steve, the love of life and people you get from your big sisters, the snuggles and tenderness you get from Daddy and the smart mouth you get from this mommy. You are all of us, good and bad all wrapped into one dynamite package. I cannot imagine my life without you in it. Thank you God for unexpected blessings.

Who Stole the Joy?

Life has been busy and it’s been a while since I have had time to sit and write, I am in all reality too busy today, but I decided enough was enough after the fourth conversation this week with someone overwhelmed.

I can’t figure out if it’s our age, our generation, our world, or if this is normal, but lately, it’s hard to find joy. I spend most days running on fumes, and not doing a great job of anything at all. Matthew and I have felt very alone in that, but lately God has placed people and conversations in my path that have shown me that it’s not just me. It’s not just us at our house. What are we doing so different that has changed our outlooks?

Matthew and I are very glass half full kinda people. The last few years our glasses are half empty, and that outlook in itself is enough to drive us over the edge! We talked Sunday night, and we were both like, we gotta figure out how to change our outlook, our lives are full of blessings and we are missing them because we are seeing everything as a burden. I just wonder what changed, where that shift happened, and if this is just a phase of life, of parenthood, or if this a reflection of a world that revolves around high speed internet, social media lifestyles, and keeping up with the Jones’.

Whatever it is, we gotta figure out a way as a community, as friends, to fix it! I wonder if we need less extracurriculars and more Sunday dinners. Less homework and more playing catch in the yard. More BBQs at the neighbors house instead of snapchats and text messages. I can’t help but wonder if we feel so empty because we fool ourselves into thinking we are connected to everyone with our phones, but in all reality, we are connected to no one. You ever see people in the store, and you just say a really friendly hello and walk away? Because there is no reason to ask questions, “how’s your family” isn’t needed because we know, we see on Facebook. I think social media is great, and coming from a girl that LOVED encyclopedias, Google is my lifeline, you would giggle at the number of things I look up in a day. Knowledge at our fingertips is such a blessing. I just can’t help but wonder if the flip side of that is killing us, our lives, our connections, and crushing our spirits all at once.

No real point in today’s blog. Just wanted you to know if you are missing your joy here lately, and you are overwhelmed at this stage, you aren’t alone. And if you think we need a good old cook out in the park, and a basket for the phones to go in at the entrance, I am down any time!

Thankful for second chances

The Rhyne house had lots of kids this morning going in two different directions. It has been a whirlwind of a weekend. A whirlwind that will forever be etched in my memory, as full of fear, love, tears, laughter, thankfulness, and gratefulness.

Sometimes I worry about sounding like a “bible beater” because I have so much I want to scream on rooftops. I also worry, because there is always someone in the crowd that likes to point out all my shortcomings. I have learned over the years, that I don’t so much care about those things any more. God loves me for my shortcomings. He made me just the way I am, and He loves me this way. He has a purpose for my failures, for my fears, for my screw ups. I don’t really know how folks make it day to day without Him.

This Monday morning as I am finished with the drop offs, I am overcome with emotion. I am so thankful for this busy weekend. I am thankful that God can see the future. That He is all knowing and in control always. I am thankful that He is in the business of saving lives, spiritually AND physically. And oh how I am praying for the precious life He spared. I am thankful for diapers, pull ups, and dirty clothes, for toddler tantrums and midnight snacks at 9pm. I am thankful for kitchen dance parties and late night giggles. I am thankful for friends who know how to feed a crowd. I am thankful for preteens/teens who are willing and wanting to sit down and talk about the good, bad and the ugly.

I am thankful for my girls. My children never cease to amaze me. They are always willing to jump in with two feet and no life jacket to whatever I bring through the back door. They live a wonderful,cushioned life, but they often have front row seats to lives that are so opposite. Lives that they can only imagine through the stories they hear. Yet, they have a way with people that us adults could only dream for. They open the fridge, the snack cabinet, their rooms, and they love with all they have. From 19-3, my kids are incredible, and more helpful that they will ever realize.

I am thankful for our open back door that brings in new faces or old faces. Other peoples children don’t cease to amaze me much either. Kids are so loving, and forgiving, and trusting. They can handle so much more than we give them credit for. And every once in a while, one wraps their arms around you so tight it takes your breath, and you know, that just for a second, your arms are what they need, and what is right in their world. And that, that makes for a thankful Rhyne momma this morning.

I am thankful for God, who pushes me out of my comfort zone. He always lets me know what to do and when to do it. Sometimes words come out of my mouth before I think them, and *most* of the time, it’s Him pushing me in the direction I need to go. If you don’t have a relationship with God, and your life is just happen stance, I feel sorry for you. You are missing out on an assurance, on joy in tragedy, on a peace that surpasses all circumstances. I am so thankful today for those things in my life, and pray that I can pass that knowledge on to all who will hear.

What people “Post” to be

I saw someone post on Facebook how social media affects everyone’s view on how it should be. Like we are all just constantly comparing ourselves to others. It got me to wondering what folks think about us. If you know me at all, that is not something that crosses my mind often. I am fortunate to not have a care in my bones about what other people think. If you know my daddy, he gave us a good Keller bloodline that is slam full of self esteem. I laugh all the time when Matthew or the kids catch me off guard in a picture. I am like woahhhh, that is NOT what I look like. I love me most days when I get ready and do that last look in the mirror. I always say that’s why I have trouble loosing weight. Most people have body issues when they loose weight, they see the bigger them in the mirror no matter what, I am the total opposite, now that I am thinking that outloud on paper, that’s probably not my best quality.

One of my favorite memories as a mom was when Kinnley was about 3. I was at my aunt’s house. She is ten years older than me, and my best friend on earth. She had three kids at the time, the youngest just a few months older than Kinnley. The two older boys were in the room playing with one of those old plastic phones that had the rotary dial, wheels and eyes that moved when you pulled it by the string across the floor. They were fighting tooth and nail over that toy. She said a few things, and they didn’t listen. All of a sudden she stood up, grabbed that toy, opened the front door and threw it right in the yard. I literally wanted to kiss her! I told her she had always been my role model, and of course this was still true with parenting, and so often I felt like I was failing because some days I just couldn’t not yell, and I just couldn’t be patient.

How often do we post the bad, the ugly, the rough. Are we posting what we “pose” to be? I just wanted to jump on and let you know that we Rhynes are a HOT mess over here. Dillon eats cereal four times a day. Tatum is the most spoiled person on earth, and thinks we are all just here to make her life great. Parker rarely comes out of her room, and Kinnley has one foot out the door. Matthew is a great husband, I am so so lucky there, but he is still a man, and he is so nice and silly with everyone else all the time, we usually get the grumpy him. And me, oh my me…lol. I yell, so loud I cannot believe the neighbors don’t call the law sometimes. I throw stuff. I totally stick my face in my phone and straight up ignore my kids. I don’t do laundry, at all. I hate cleaning and cooking. I am late for everything. I was my wedding and will be my funeral. And my worst flaw, I forget EVERYTHING. Ask my husband and kids. I remember nothing. Not conversations, play dates, birthday parties, church functions, dinner, to buy toilet paper. If we missed your party, your birthday, your baby shower, whatever your function may be, it’s because I forgot, and more than likely forgot to tell my family, so when you ask them about it, they are clueless. My friend Hannah knows this wonderful trait of mine, and when her kids have a party, she so kindly in the middle of her prepping for the party, calls me to remind me to come. I post the good of all of us, our happy times, our sad times, but rarely does the majority get to see the hard of things.

I just wanted to let you all know, in case my posts always seem like we have it together, we totally do not. We are just winging it. Like I think most of you are. My goal in life is not really to have it all together. I just want to live and love. I would love if my kids didn’t have to go to therapy as adults as a result of their childhood. I want people to know that we loved them, (even if we forgot to go to their parties), regardless of who they are, where they live, how they looked and most importantly to this Rhyne crew, what color their skin is.

If you are constantly comparing your life, your looks, or your lifestyle to others, let that burden go. God made you and yours EXACTLY how he wanted you to be. He made you in HIS image! What an amazing honor. I pray that as you scroll today. You just smile at others, and be thankful for who and where you are.