My Adoption: Seeking to Know More

Proverbs 18-15

A little over a year ago, I talked about my constant health limbo. In that post, I discussed how I felt knowing nothing about my health history. I stand by what I said then. I trust God has my health under control, regardless of what I do or do not know.

Nevertheless, being adopted also adds another layer to the unknown. Lately, I’ve deeply mulled over knowing hardly anything about the first five and half years of my life. I’ve had a tough time embracing the haziness of that time of my life.

Now, I do know it is not common to people to remember much at that age. For instance, most of the memories my husband has from his early childhood are faint moments. He can recall eating something on a trip when he was approximately four years old. He does not remember, in detail, the moments leading up to that meal like his parents do.

In order words, most everyone’s early childhood memories involving hearing something from our parents and being able to envision it occurring, but not actually remembering the experience vividly. I am somewhat like this when it comes to my time in Russia.

My mom told me stories of what the orphanage caretaker told her. But, we all know how it is, as a story goes from one person to another, details are forgotten or changed. I am not at all saying I doubt what my mother told me. I am simply stating something I’ve frequently discussed in my communication degree studies. It’s all part of the process of transferring messages from one receiver to another.

Nevertheless, I mainly remember feelings. I remember the feeling of not having a family. I remember feeling lonely. I remember feeling out of place as the smallest, yet one of the oldest, in the orphanage.

I can see pictures, but I do not have any specific memories of people or events. In fact, I don’t remember my orphanage caretaker or my best friend at the orphanage. I’ve seen pictures, but I cannot associate anything with them. But, that isn’t to say they aren’t important to me—because they are. They are a pivotal part of my life that I desperately would like to recall.

But, that scares me.

It scares me to go through the process of discovering my memories in Russia. I am not all saying I want to go under hypnosis. No, I simply want to harness the buried emotions attached to the experiences. I want to be able to pinpoint an event without knowing all the details.

Simply put, I’d like to have a generalization of the first five years of my life. I know it is possible. And I’m open to it, which is huge for me. I never thought I’d come to this point in my life of actively seeking help to unearth forgotten memories.

I am at a point in my life where I no longer want to remain ignorant of all that has shaped me to be who I am today. This includes the time I spent in Russia. All does not begin after my time in Russia. It can be easy for my subconscious to try to convince me that my memories begin after I found a new life in America.

But, they don’t have to. My memories, my experiences (good and bad) start the moment I take my first breath, no matter where in the world that may be.

I am sure some may be wondering, what if the reason why you remember hardly anything from your time in Russia is that God is trying to protect you from a bad traumatic experience? Believe me, I have thought this more than you will ever know. In fact, that very thought is what often stopped me from ever wanting to pursue the knowledge.

But, if God has taught me anything through the trials, tribulations, and joys I have experienced, it is that He will carry me through. He will carry me through until my hairs are gray. I may spend my life in and out of deep valleys, but that doesn’t change who God is.

So, yes, in this process, however it may unfold, I may learn some hard truths about myself. Or, I may learn some wonderful truths. I am walking into the process with the mindset to know myself better rather than trying to expect a certain result. For, as I get older and as I grow closer to my husband, the more I realize I will be more content knowing something rather than knowing nothing.

All this to say, my adoption continually surprises me. It continuously challenges me. It will always be a part of me. I may simply never know how and when it chooses to impact my life. But, it will always be there. I choose to be grateful for it. I choose to embrace that part of my life story.

My call to you is this: Don’t seek out a certain life story. Be comfortable and embrace your own story instead, no matter how bland or crazy it may seem. Take any chance you can to get to know yourself better.

For those of you like me who may not know about certain portions of their life, don’t rush the moment. Don’t rush the knowledge. God will provide opportunities that will guide you to this moment if that is His will for your life. And if it is not, do not be hard on yourself or feel like you must go in search of something that may not be there in the first place.

Blessings,

Renata

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My Style: Preferences, Go-Tos, and More

I don't know style. I know my personal style - Diane Kruger quote

At the moment, I am wearing one of the comfiest, if the not THE comfiest shirt I have ever owned. I feel like I am wearing a blanket. I had no idea it would be this soft when I placed the online order. The saying on the front is what sold me, though: I already want to nap tomorrow. Yeah, I do already want to nap tomorrow.

Comfort over style is my fashion motto, plus budget friendly. I am totally okay with splurging on an outfit here or there, or even for quality’s sake. But, I won’t be dropping hundreds of dollars for everyday wear that has holes in it.

My sense of style is simple and basic. My go-to combination is a basic, plain (usually crew or V-neck) tee with a tank top and jeans. Of course, I must have the option to wear yoga pants. I also really enjoy wearing dresses. In fact, if I wasn’t so short, I would probably LIVE in maxi dresses. I prefer breathable, comfortable clothes that are still cute or dainty. I don’t like to feel constrained by what I am wearing.

My mentality is to look like I tried without actually trying. Most of the time, it works. For instance, the other day at work, I wore a bright, colorful kimono with a black silk blouse and black leggings. I got so many compliments about the kimono.

In that outfit, I was comfortable, I felt good, and I looked professional. That’s what it is all about for me.

I have tons of tank tops. I am one of those people who can’t comfortably go a day without a tank top on. The shirt I am wearing today is one of the few exceptions. Simply, I don’t like the feeling of having my tummy uncovered in any way. Yes, it is covered by a shirt, blouse, or dress. But, it still isn’t the same coverage as a tank top.

I love to wear neutral or solid colors. I often let my accessories or layers be the pop of color or design. So, I have a yellow purse, which had to grow on me. Or, I have colorful earrings. I have a plethora of colorful scarves, too. I LOVE scarves. They are a staple in the winter, especially when I want a pop of color and an added layer of warmth.

On that same note, I practically live in cardigans during the winter and fall. Although, truthfully, I’ll even wear a cardigan in the summer because of how cold my work office can be. I think nearly any business professional can attest to the year-round ice box that is working in an office. Plus, cardigans allow me to add a layer of warmth without completely throwing off the color scheme I am trying to go for.

If I sound like a stuck-up snob about color coordination and matching, it’s because I am. I am not ashamed of it either. I have seen enough cringe-worthy combinations to stand by my pickiness. I am a stickler for color coordination. I refuse to pair brown and black. I am extremely hesitant to pair navy and black. I won’t layer two different tones of a color unless I absolutely have no option.

With color, everything must flow and go together, down to the last detail. It all comes back to comfort. I feel comfortable when I am proud of my combinations. It does not mean I spend hours getting ready. Not in the slightest. I am usually ready within twenty minutes each day. I don’t wear makeup or style my hair much.

Typically, I don’t take long to get ready because once I know an outfit combination works, I stick with it. I am a tried and true kind of gal. I don’t need the extra gunk. I need what works. If a combination does not work, I make a mental note to change it up next time I try it. It may take me a bit to find the workable combination, but once I know it works, it’s hard for me to change it.

On that note, I’d have to say, my key needs in style haven’t ever really changed. How I go about fulfilling those needs has though. For instance, I used to wear shorts and a school t-shirt quite a bit. But now, I don’t really like shorts. I go for the jeans and a basic, plain V-neck or crew neck tee.

As I have gotten older, I have been more open to going outside my usual attire, thus the bold new kimono I mentioned earlier. I don’t know where my style preferences will take me through the years.

But, one thing is for certain, I will always choose comfort over fashion. Until next time, dear friends.

Blessings,

Renata

Blog Posts: To Finish the Unfinished


I have to be honest with you, guys. I have an accumulating list of blogs posts that I have half started and I have yet to finish. I don’t know if I will ever finish them either. I don’t even know if I still have access to them. As I sift through the 100 plus posts I have made, it can extremely hard to keep track.

I am sure it does not help that I label some posts along the lines of “I don’t know,” or “Who knows?” This document name runs along that strand of thought. I am notorious for clicking save on Word documents, as soon and as much as possible. Therefore, there are definitely times when I save a blog post under a vague description, leaving my future self to wonder, what the heck was I trying to say then and why?

All this to say, I feel this nagging feeling in the back of my head as I try to remember what I named a partially done blog post that I considered finishing for this week or the next. Alas, my short search landed me nowhere.

So, I tell you, this post is not what I had hoped it would be about. And in case you were wondering, I will probably complete an extensive search before I ultimately decide if I should completely start anew with the idea I have literally been toiling with for over a year.

Each time, I want to add something to one of my partial posts, I am nowhere near my computer. I would write it on a notepad, but these thoughts usually come when I am in the middle of work. I try my best not to deal with any personal matters while I am at work.

Regardless, there is a part of me that enjoys going back to an old unfinished post. I get excited because I like to see how far I have come in one way or another. Although, part of me also gets anxiety. I usually get anxiety because most of my unfinished posts tend to deal with a lot of difficult topics.

Difficult personal topics. Topics that I know I want to one day share. But, not quite yet.

I know this seems ironic (yet seemingly fitting) considering my opening line in last week’s post was “Sometimes I am hesitant to share my heart.” If you read on, you’d learn my faith in Jesus Christ is not one of the topics I leave for unfinished blog posts.

My writing journey throughout this blog and life, in general, have deeply challenged me to put myself out there more. Both have challenged me to not live in fear of what others may say. Or, that could be the several sermons my pastor has given lately about not living in fear talking.

Regardless, I am hoping this post will challenge me to finish those unfinished blog posts. To put myself out there. To use my God-given talent to help even just one person who shares in my struggles.

May we all challenge ourselves to finish the unfinished.

Blessings,

Renata

 

 

Sharing My Heart: I Am Not Ashamed

Romans 1-16

Sometimes, I am hesitant to share my heart.

Satan likes to tempt me to believe that talking about God on this platform is not necessary. But, I refuse to let his temptations get the best of me. So, today, I am going to share my heart, even if it seems mundane, repetitive, or unnecessary.

Today, I am going to tell some of you for the first time and remind others that I have a relationship with Jesus. I am not ashamed of the gospel. I am not ashamed of what I know in my heart to be true, regardless of what the world may profess.

It is because of this lack of shame I tell you, whenever I need to calm my mind and focus at work or at home, I listen to music. I listen to Christian music that proclaims the beautiful name of Jesus. Today was one of those days I desperately needed to wind down and focus. My mind and talkative nature seemed to be everywhere but present at my job.

So, I did what I know best. I listened to music while working. Thankfully, I work at an organization that allows this. In the midst of paperwork, I found myself intimately worshiping and praising God. I found myself with tears in my eyes at the goodness and graciousness of God.

I found myself overwhelmed and in awe of God’s majesty. I found myself magnified by His power, glory, and strength all because of one song, “Strong God” by Vertical Church Band.

Father to the fatherless
Defender of the weak
Freedom for the prisoner
We sing

The opening verse brought me to a near standstill and almost flooded my face with tears. I continue to grapple with the first five years of life as an orphan. I still look back at that time. I still try to process all that it means for me, nearly seventeen and a half years later.

I still need the constant reminder, God is my Father and I am His chosen child, adopted into His Kingdom. Then, I hear the words:

With us in the wilderness
Faithful to provide
Every breath and every step
We sing

As I have touched on previously, 2016 was one of the most difficult years of life I have had thus far in my short existence. That year, I found myself in a deep pit, in a valley of depression.

Six months into 2017, I no longer find myself in a pit, but I still catch myself looking back down into the pit. I am not too far away from it either. In fact, there are times I feel inclined to crawl back in for a reason unclear to me. I still find myself looking over my shoulder wondering if it is okay to move on, to take a tiny step forward.

The above words remind me it is God who brought me out of the pit. He allowed the bad to happen. He was with me in the wilderness of life. He was with me in the pit. He provided for me in ways my heart did not know I needed. He provided and ordained every breath and every step.

He is not the God of uncertainty. He is not the God of weakness. He is Emmanuel. He is the Messiah.

I tell you, friends. Today, this is the prayer of my heart:

Sing out, lift your voice and cry out
Awesome is our strong God, mighty is our God
Sing out, raise your hands and shout out
Awesome is our strong God, mighty is our God

I will continue to sing out, lift my voice, and cry out until the good Lord Jesus Christ calls me home. For, He is in my heart. I am not ashamed.

Blessings,

Renata

Decluttering From Emotional Attachment

Matthew 6-19-21

I am one of those people who can have a tough time decluttering. I do not have a problem getting rid of the item itself. The challenge lies in letting go of what it represents. The challenge is the emotional attachment it harbors.

For instance, as I am sitting here typing this blog post, I can see a mug that says, “I love you” on the front and “With all my heart on the back.” I do not think I will ever be able to get rid of it because it is the mug my husband used to propose to me. In fact, I’ve never had coffee in the mug. It simply sits as decoration.

I know some people who think I should use the mug because of the emotional attachment behind it. But, that same emotional attachment that will not let me rid of it is the same attachment that says do not use it.

That same scenario is the exact flux of emotion I feel for people, only it is stronger. For instance, I have had a handful of jobs. Leaving each job is hard, not because I will miss what I do or where I work, but because I will desperately miss the people. I will miss the connections I made.

The longer I stay at a job, the harder it is. If I have not said so or if you have not been here long enough to figure it out, I am a deeply emotionally rooted person. I haven’t always been that way. But, once I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart, I simply have not been the same.

So, yes, the emotional person I am cannot stand goodbyes. I cannot stand even slightly severing an emotional connection, even if it for something good such as growth or a better opportunity. I do not even want to know what I will be like if and when I leave my current job. I love the people there a great amount.

But, that is for another day and another time. Nevertheless, it does not change the challenge behind the message of necessary growth and change.

We need change and growth in our lives. But, we also need consistency. Sometimes, we can welcome the change. Other times, it catches us off guard. Regardless, I am not saying this change should be as drastic as changing jobs either. It could simply be trying a new menu item or getting that shirt or outfit that completely defies one’s norms.

I’ve slowly started to realize, though, welcomed change or not, does not affect the quality of a relationship. It does not change the memories, the bond, or the experiences one shares with another. With enough intention on both ends, it only becomes stronger. But, even if life gets ahead of us, the true meaningful relationships will stick.

How do I know this? Because I experienced it recently. I recently reconnected with someone I used to work with. It was for a school assignment, nonetheless. But, we reconnected for a few short moments. In those short moments, this person taught me that no matter where God leads me in life, she will always be there. She will not forget the time we shared as colleagues.

As I look at the mug that means so much to me, I tell you this, no object, place, or job will severe the most meaningful emotional bonds you carry with others. They may slowly grow to something deeper, or they may go their own ways, but they will not entirely fade away.

They will leave an imprint. They will matter.

My challenge to you is this: Go through the clutter in your belongings. Figure out what’s keeping you from getting rid of it. If it’s not emotional attachment or absolutely necessity, then consider donating it to someone else who may find a new meaning for it.

If it is something with an emotional attachment to it, examine the attachment behind it. Is it a necessary constant reminder? Now, I am not saying you have to get rid of everything, regardless of the emotional reason behind it.

Preserving people and memories is beautiful. I value and treasure it myself.

But, I do ask you to be wary of if that item, place, or job is keeping you in a cage of your past. Is it keeping you from experiencing the wonderful future God has for you? If so, do not be afraid to talk with someone or even have someone else who loves you to come alongside you and help declutter.

Don’t live in the cage of your past. Rather, look to the open window of a bright future. God’s carrying you through, dear friend.

Blessings,

Renata