Rathjen Family

Rathjen Family
Rathjen, Party of EIGHT

Saturday, April 7, 2018

April is Rathjen Adoption Month!

April is a special month for us.  All three of our adopted children's adoption anniversaries are in April.  I still remember when our agency called us with our Travel Approval for the twins.  I can only describe it as an extra long pregnancy finally coming to an end, and you now know the date you will hold your precious child/ren.  But there is one, BIG difference.  Your babies are not in a safe, warm environment, getting everything they need, connected to you.  It's often times, quite the opposite.  They are in desperate need of you, their mother, caregiver, provider.  Things moved quickly, six plane tickets were purchased to leave for China, eight were bought to come back home.  My days and nights were spent packing, re-packing and trying not to get overwhelmed and emotional.  My dream was coming true...

The hallways filling with cribs, preparing for the babies, soon to come...

Tyler carried Ivor off the bus and into the hotel.

Nana carried Trigg.

Mama, inspecting her babies for the first time

Daddy holds Trigg for his medical exam...all part of the process

We don't all grow up dreaming of adopting, I realize that.  But if it has ever been a dream of yours, and if you feel that fire, don't waist another day and explore the possibility.  We are made for relationship, and there are many children living in this world with none.  Not everybody can be in these relational spaces (trauma child/adoptive parent) in the right way, so by no means am I suggesting everyone adopt.  However, if you are being called to it, and you're ignoring it, stop.  And keep in mind, we are all called to serve the orphan in one way or another.  Explore that too.

Adopting our youngest daughter was quite different.  She became our foster daughter a year and a half before she became our legal daughter, but all along, she was a daughter, a daughter to a King who loves her and now we have the gift of loving her too.

Emmy Jane getting kisses from her brothers and sister

born to ride

I find myself sifting through photos and with each photo I am reminded of the intense feeling that moment brought.  I am forever changed and eternally grateful God has used me in this way.

How does He want to use you?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Emmy Jane

I have not made a post for nearly three years.  It is not a coincidence that is about the time we got into foster care.  I told hubby one night while we were laying in bed, that I felt like we needed a little girl in the family.  A bookend baby, maybe.  Zoë was 12 and the oldest in the home.  Tyler was still working on his engineering degree which he earned this past December. We were just living the dream in our big country home with three little boys and a pre-teen.  It sounds busy and full to most but I knew we had room.  Clay agreed we should certify our home for foster children, since you know, they usually go home.  This way, I could continue to pursue my calling of serving Jesus by loving on lonely kiddos and he wasn't signing up for any long-term commitment. 😉 Several months in, we got our first "real" call.  We had had a couple "stand by" types but no-one had showed up on our doorstep yet.

"Her name is Emerald.   She is sixteen months old and if it's ok, she will be there in about an hour."  The social worker asked informed.  How do you say no to that?  The night before I prayed for a little girl, asking God, if my intuition was right, would you please rescue her and send her to me... God answered, and our little gem arrived on our doorstep, scared, dirty, sad, and with not much but the misfitted clothes on her back.  I won't go into the details of what brought her to us, because that is her story to tell, one day, if she chooses.  I will say this, she was breathtakingly beautiful, full of spice, and a pint sized princess.

Just like with any foster care placement, we didn't know what the future held.  The goal is almost always reunification, but in some cases, it's not possible.  Emerald was so incredibly busy.  She woke up 5-7 times a night.  She hated her car seat more than any child I had seen.  She did not sit still for anything, but more than anything, she loved water.  We usually put her in the bath at least twice a day.  The older two kids soaked it up.  They loved feeding her, bathing her, dressing her, playing with her and they wanted to keep her forever from that first night.  The younger two had a little tougher time.  They were losing their spot as the babies.  Mom's time was being consumed, as well as energy and patience.  This pint sized person didn't do much but cause trouble in their eyes.  But as time went, love happened.  They still got frustrated from time to time but they began to mold into incredible big brothers.

Seventeen months after we received her, we became her legal parents, her forever family, her mommy and daddy, her tribe.  She has now been with us for two years and three months and the change we have seen in her has been miraculous.  She has grown a head taller and she is about 14 pounds bigger.  She runs, she climbs, she eats, she talks, she hugs, she laughs, she only wakes once in the night and she is an absolute riot with a larger than life personality.  She is still incredibly busy, we still wonder some days what hit us, and she still requires a lot of time and attention.  Trauma is no joke.  And to add to the trauma piece, this child was born a strong-willed fighter!  But having a front seat to her healing has been amazing.  We are changed.

She is our Emmy Jane, our ball of fire, our bookend baby, and her daddy is completely wrapped around her finger (by the way).

Once again, our family grew through adoption, and we are so extremely blessed.  I am humbled every day that these children that grew in another woman's womb call me Mama.  I am excited to see what else God does in our lives, because He never disappoints.  I don't ever want to give the impression that adoption and foster care are easy.  It's not a Hallmark movie we live.  I will say, however, what God has brought us to, He brings us through. We face challenges, but we don't face them alone.  And at the end of the day, we count our blessings, one by one.  

Thursday, May 7, 2015

What Are We Waiting For?

Sometimes I feel like I am waiting.  Waiting to find my calling, waiting for my kids to get a little older, waiting for my schedule to slow down, waiting, waiting, waiting.  Day by day passes me by and I do the same mundane things.  I know, I am doing what a mom does, what a wife does.  I am a taxi driver, a house keeper, a cook, a tutor…you get the picture.   Those things are important.  They must get done, they are my responsibilities and I enjoy them.  I strive to live in the moment and not let them pass me too quickly. But recently I am getting too comfortable.  I am not feeling challenged.  I don't feel like I am being pushed.  This is where we all strive to get to.  But oddly, it's unsettling.  It leaves us searching.  I think I know why.  

I am made in the image if Jesus.  I am made to be like Him.  He lives in me, and guess what?  He was never comfortable.  And I am going to guess, that it is not where our Father in Heaven intends for us to be.  Comfortable Christianity.  I think we are meant to be challenged, pushed, and spread thin (not to be confused with over-sheduled and over committed).  Because when we are not, we have no need for Him; we don't really need Him to show up.  We don't search for His wisdom or guidance.  We coast on our own strength, as my friend Emily put it recently.  

I just finished reading "Interrupted" by Jen Hatmaker, (my make believe BFF).  Why read all these "Christian Get Moving" books if I am not willing to be transformed, right?  She has me thinking.  I want to be a missionary, I always have.  But of course, I am waiting.  I am waiting for my husband to want the same thing.  I am waiting for kids to get older. It does not make sense to move them a million miles away right now.  But why am I waiting?  Why not make my here, my now, my mission?  

So what is a mission?  A biblical definition of mission work is "Doing Christian work."  Mission work has nothing to do with location, or distance of travel.  Mission work is doing Christ's work.  So now the question is, what would He have you doing?  If He were standing before you right now, you would certainly ask.  Well He is…so ask.  A.S.K.  Ask, seek, knock.  

In Max Lucado's book "The Cure for the Common Life," he says this.  "You were born prepacked--for a purpose!  Long before you were born, God equipped you with special and unique tools to achieve his purpose and fulfill his plan.  Discovering what he gave you is the first step toward curing the common life."

Well there you have it!  Unpack your suitcase.  How does He intend for you to be His hands and feet?  If you can discover this, I can promise you, you will never be more fulfilled.  Notice, I did not say happy, because doing God's work is sometimes heart breaking.  It is not for the weak.  But He promises to give you strength.  I have never felt more alive and more in His will than when I was in Uganda and China.  Because in Uganda and China, I was caring for the least of these.  I was pouring my heart out for the broken, the hungry, the lonely.  Which is exactly what our Savior did while here.

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:40

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13

In Hope….

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

How Young is to Young? Childhood Dating, Part 2

I realize my views and beliefs may offend people and know that is not my intention.  I hope that my words provide clarity and provoke families to really give thought to this topic.

I have been accused of parenting out of a spirit of fear, and I assure you, I took some time to think that over and I honestly would not call it fear.  I feel it is wisdom.  I believe God does what He can to protect us and guide us.  However, He gave us free will, and we make mistakes.  He forgives and has taken on our sin for those who believe.  My point is, I want God to use me and my experience to enlighten and hopefully help others.  He does that you know, He uses us and our trials for good.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

 We just need to be cautious of our children feeling they have to hide things from us.  I don't ever want my children shameful or embarrassed for their feelings and thoughts toward the opposite sex.  I want them to know,  these thoughts and feelings are normal.  Overall, I want my children  to love themselves and their God and to learn to live in His will.  Because this my friends, is where they will be truly fulfilled. 

In Hope,


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How Young is to Young? Childhood Dating, Part 1

As my daughter turns into a "tween" dating has come up.  Yes, already.  Of course they don't actually "date," but they are "going out."  I am not too old to remember this phrase.  I am also not too old to remember what it means.  It is one of those things that has a meaning, but it is hard to put into words.  In my view nothing positive comes from it.  Recently some of my daughters peers have started "going out."  Harmless, right?  They are just kids!  Oh, they just like to say they have a boyfriend/girlfriend.  No biggie!  Don't be so sure.

"Going out," as best as I can describe means, we are boyfriend and girlfriend and in some cases we show affection.  We text more.  We are kind of awkward at first.  We dance together at the school dance.  We get jealous when we talk to or act flirty with someone else of the opposite sex.  That all seems harmless, and just part of growing up and learning to be in a relationship with the opposite sex.  However, studies show (and you could have used myself as an example) that "going out/dating" is not so harmless.  The problem is, once children (yes they are children at 11, 12, 13, 14, 15….) start showing affections to the opposite sex, things progress.  The normal progression goes a little like this:

1) Hand holding
2) Cuddling, maybe arms around one another
3) Kissing
4) Touching
5) More serious kissing
6) Sex

Remember, when we were kids, and probably still today, these steps I have listed were and are called bases.  Your friend would ask, "So what base did you guys go to?"  And awkwardly, you would answer, sometimes truthful, sometimes not.

So let's say kids start in 6th grade.  Many of the kids in my daughters class are in fact, in relationships.  So we will say, for the sake of our example, they take it slow.  In 6th grade, they are hand holding.  In 7th, they are comfortable with cuddling and kissing on occasion.  In 8th grade, the touching starts and possibly more intense kissing.  So by 9th grade, what do you suspect the little relationship experts are doing?  Now the question is not just if they are ready for the consequences such as possible pregnancy or STD, not to mention the heart ache when they break up because now they have held nothing back, they have become totally vulnerable and they are ashamed and extremely jealous of the next person their ex is now seeing/dating/going out with.  What about their souls?  What about their precious little souls?

As some of you know, I was that child.  I was pregnant at 15.  Yes, you read that right, FIFTEEN.  Am I proud of this?  No!  Do I have terrible memories associated with this?  Yes!  Did I overcome it?  Yes! Was the pregnancy the worse consequence of my actions?  NO.  Do you want to know what was the hardest thing to overcome?  It was the shame.  It was the fact that I disappointed my parents.  It was the fact that the whole town knew of my sin.  It was that I gave something to the babies father I could never reclaim.  It.was.awful.  So now you know why I am passionate about this topic.  Now you know why I will do whatever it takes to influence just one person, one family to avoid children going through what I went through.  You can not give me even one good reason, these babies should be in intimate relationships!  I have heard it the other side.  It goes like this…

It's harmless.
It's good for them to learn how to relate to the opposite sex.
I think they need to learn how to treat the opposite sex.
I feel my child has control.
You are not going to stop it.
It's natural.
We keep a close eye.
We want our child to be open with us, if we stop them, they will just hide it.

Do you know what is natural?  Children at this age playing, having fun, spending quality time with their families, getting educated, learning a skill, having overnights with friends, learning about a God that loves them so much, He died for them, He removes their sin, and He is ENOUGH.  He is enough to comfort them, hold them and guide them through this awkward time in their life.  Do you know how badly I wish I had known this?  Do you know how many years of pain and suffering I could have avoided had I known this?  I know this now, and I have been set free.  I am blessed.  My son, now 20 is an amazing person.  He is a beautiful gift.  Would I change it? No.  Was it easy? No.  Doable? Yes.  But not everyone has the happy ending I have.  I am so grateful I know my Savior now, but I did not then.  It's time for us to rise up, teach these children who they are, where they come from and help them to determine where they are going.  They have their entire life to be in a relationship!  They need to know now, what it means to be a child of God, a good citizen, a good person!

I plan on continuing on this topic...  If you are in the trenches, and this applies to you, I urge you to pray about it.  We can make a difference, the fight has not been lost, God is bigger.  He tells us in Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Back to Reality! School Already?!

After an absolute fabulous summer, we are back to reality.  School started Tuesday for Zoe and Rance. Tyler headed back to college that day as well.  The twins started today.  I had THREE whole hours to myself.  It was so nice weird.  I got like twelve hours worth the housework done in that short time!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Southern Comfort

I learned a valuable lesson, taking a trip to Louisiana.  Here it goes….

Don't allow someone else's opinion to be your own.  Form you own opinion on your own experience.  Lastly, don't be to opinionated.  Allow others to form their own opinions.

It does not seem that deep, does it?  It seems rather simple, really.

Here in Colorado, I feel like most people believe the south is nothin' but hot, muggy, racial,  and full of bugs and creepy crawlies.  I just spent a week in there and this is was my experience...

I never got a bug bite.  I never saw anything scary, except some alligators and they were behind bars.  I loved the humidity.  My skin and lips felt fabulous.  But perhaps what stands out the most is the people.  They were truly wonderful.  The people down south are some of the most hospitable people I have ever met.  We felt so welcomed everywhere we went.

It was so much fun to drive southeast about 1,000 miles and experience a completely different culture.  There was one disappointment, but the pleasant surprises far outweighed the disappointment.  I am sure you are wondering what was so disappointing.  With as much clarity as possible I will say…

Racial Tension.  The blacks and the whites.  The stereotypes.  The bitterness.  It is still alive and well in the south.  Now, there were African Americans who smiled and called me "baby," but the majority choose to not even look our way.  Not being from the south, I was not expecting it.  I am used to there really not being a wedge at all.  The friends we stayed with work every day at "building the bridge."  They go, without hesitation into "Cotton's," the black neighborhood grocery store.  The man of the family, stops by "V-Baby," to get an occasional haircut.  Each time he enters, the place falls silent.  He pretends he does not notice.

I know there has been progress.  However, we need to pray for the southerners eyes to be opened and only see one another through God's eyes.

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