My husband and I have three boys. They are ‘all boy’ as the saying goes, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. They call each other “brothers of another mother.” They’re adopted, you see.
As a young married woman 20-plus years ago, adoption was the furthest thing from my mind. Both my husband and I were in school full time, working like Hebrew slaves on advanced engineering degrees. Between the two of us, we made $18,000 a year in stipends. Can you say “poor house?” I thank God for those years (and for that small vegetable patch). Those lean times taught me how to wait on God.
Growing up in the swamp lands of North Carolina, I played with trucks and climbed trees. Doll babies and tea sets were never on my gift wish list. After a few years of marriage, that changed. It happened one sunny afternoon while I babysat for a college friend. That precious little toddler stole my heart, with her sparkling brown eyes and chubby hands. When her mother picked her up two hours later, our one-bedroom apartment never felt so empty.
Knowing how much money my husband and I had (or rather, didn’t have) between us, I knew that having a child while we were both in school was not wise. So we maintained our ‘family plan’ (kids after college) and I clipped baby pictures from magazines, secretly claiming them as my own.
I soon graduated and tried to replace the yearning with a full-time job, community volunteering, church involvement and writing. But the emptiness persisted.
My husband was still in grad school, but he agreed that it was time to start a family. That was 1995; I was 29. One and a half years later and no baby, I hit a wall. I started each day in tears, crying in the darkness of my walk-in closet before work. The crying lasted for most of 1997.
On the outside I was doing good things in my church and community. I was a faithful wife. I was a productive engineer, managing a $2 million grant program for the state.
On the inside, I was dying. Longing for a child.
At one point, someone at church suggested that we consider adoption. I was tired of all the doctor’s visits, the fertility treatments, basal thermometers and all of the prayers to God. I wanted relief. I wanted to feel good again, to feel God again. Adoption seemed like an appealing option.
We did our research. We talked with counselors and social workers. We talked with our friends and parents. We prayed and fasted. We had so many questions about the process, the costs, and especially the kids. What if they’re not black like us, what if they’re developmentally challenged, what if they’re violent?
God answered all of those questions with peace. As Psalm 34:4 says: I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
As I internalized that scripture, I realized it didn’t matter what the child He gave us looked like or acted like. What God had for us, was for us. I had peace with His plan.
Adopting was not easy. In fact, in the beginning it was like pulling a scab from a wound I thought had healed. But today, I have three boys through three separate adoptions.
Not three rejects or three unwanted children. I have three sons.
Some people call them someone else’s children. I call them mine.
Linda Leigh Hargrove blends suspense, humor, and faith into compelling stories about race and class in America. Her 10 works of fiction include three novels, as well as several novellas and short stories. Linda has taught workshops on fiction writing to adults and teens. She is a native of Washington County, North Carolina and currently resides near Charlotte with her husband and three sons. Connect with Linda on the following social media platforms: Linda’s website, Linda’s Facebook page and Linda’s Instagram feed.
As you settle into this season of new beginnings and fresh promise, I challenge you to not only focus on outward possibilities for growth, but also the inner ones, too.
Take some time in the first few days of 2020 to sit with yourself and ask this important question: What aspects of my life need to be nurtured – right now and in the year ahead?
Whatever your response, I encourage you to embrace it and honor it. And wherever you find yourself during the coming weeks and months, remind yourself of the hope that this dawn of a new year has delivered and “rinse and repeat” the following opportunities to lean into life:
Appreciate each moment.
Celebrate those you love and
Pour new life into your dreams.
Acknowledge life’s realities –
both good and not so good,
Then remember who you are and
Whose you are,
In the midst of it all.
Stand in that truth.
Honor that truth.
Be that truth.
On the days you don’t feel like going on,
Find a way to push through…
To the purpose only you can birth.
Find the courage to
Be Still and
Listen to your heart, and
To words and voices that empower you,
Regardless of what may be shaking the world around you.
Breathe and Be, and
Allow others to do the same.
Trust that good will prevail,
Especially when you offer up your own goodness.
Forgive yourself and
Forgive others, too.
Be patient with heartache,
Grant grief some time, and
Remember in this season of giving (and getting) that it’s the seemingly little things that matter most:
– Calling friends or loved ones simply because they cross your mind
– Offering words of encouragement when someone needs them most
– Giving random hugs to remind those you care about that they’re valued
– Listening fully
– Praying fervently
– Laughing with, not at, someone
– Crying with, rather than for, someone
– Making time, even when you’re busy
– Telling the truth with sincerity and love (often it’s not what you say, but how you say it that makes all the difference)
– Walking in integrity, and in doing so, showing others the way
– Granting yourself grace, so that others learn that skill, too
– Loving yourself best so that you can truly love others better. For when your heart is full and you’re confident about who you are, what you stand for and how you’re called to serve in this world, you can easily open doors, hold hands and make room for others to flourish, too.
I’m sure there’s more. What intangible, yet powerfully valuable treasures will you add to your gift-giving list this year?
Don’t let the truths about yourself scare you; let them grow you.
If you had no work to do, life wouldn’t be called a journey.
It’s your choice whether to risk the messiness that comes with living fully or play it safe and end up with a pile of “What ifs?”
Be willing to do the work and create a masterpiece. This will be your legacy, and perhaps, the memories you someday cherish most.
I launched this first day of September a week or so ago with a morning trek along a path that was brand new to me. It was beautiful and breezy and serene.
I talked to God, and then I stilled myself to listen, even as my feet kept moving.
Subtly, yet clearly, the answers I sought came.
Then I saw it – that juncture in the road where the paved pathway met gravel – leading to uncultured, unknown territory and to a bend in the road around which I could not see.
I advanced a few feet, then retreated, deciding to explore more fully on another day.
For in that moment, I had all I needed – fresh air, exercise, a lush green setting and a visual reminder that at every turn, I am loved, worthy and deserving of joy.
And guess what? So are you.
That walk reminded me that even when we’re on the right path, we’ll encounter some pebbles, stones, rough patches and dirt. We won’t always know the end before we begin or even when we’re mid-journey. Yet, that’s why it’s so important to enjoy and treasure each step of the journey itself, for all the worth each phase brings.
In the right season, at the appointed time, we will discover the beauty behind those bends and truly value the extra effort it required to get there.
Wherever we are on the path, we can trust God’s goodness despite what the world or our circumstances show, and lean into the truths of how He has already blessed us. Think about your past 90 days and count the ways.
I’m convinced that our trek into the final months of 2019 are gonna be better than good – paved roads, gravelly paths, wood trails and all. Are you ready? I’ve got my walking/running shoes on and I am. 👟🕶💪🏾
Like many people, I grew up hearing the famous quote that “Home is where the heart is.” And indeed, for 16 years my home was filled with peace, love and happiness. I came home daily from work seeing the smiles of my two sons, who made my life joyous. But one day I came home, parked my car and sat inside it for over an hour talking to my friends and family about the pain that I was experiencing in my marriage. How could I not see the manipulation, the lies, and the deceit before now?
As a single mother before I got married, I had decided tt was important for my sons to see a man treat their mother with love and respect. Instead they were viewing their mother’s heart being broken.
It took more conversations and lots of prayer, but I finally realized that I didn’t deserve this. When I decided to walk away and start over, that’s when the champion rose up in me.
A true champion will fight through anything. Every scar pushed me to my purpose. I was able to utilize the gifts that God birthed inside of me to encourage myself towards greatness. Negative words were not able to stick to me because God planted a seed of greatness inside of me at birth. How so? It just was lying dormant, but the pain pushed me to look at myself and start my own business. I decided that I wanted to be a life coach at first, but later realized that the power was in my mouth and the words that I speak.
God changed me and showed me my true purpose. Motivational speaking was birthed, and I started speaking to women about pushing past the pain of the past and having the confidence to walk boldly into woman that God created them to be. I’ve spoken at events, churches and conferences, encouraging women to see that champion spirit that resides within them. Now I’m walking towards the “champion destiny” that God designed just for me. And now I empower women to have the emotional stability to discover their champion purpose.
I started speaking to small groups such as my family and friends. In the beginning, I didn’t have a large following, and I didn’t know anything about being a speaker. I had to decide to invest in my vision and dreams. I hired business coaches and strategists to assist me, and with the knowledge I gained I was motivated to start a Facebook group called “The Champion Woman’s Society.” This group is for women who desire to discover their Champion Purpose, but lack motivation.
My marriage ended in 2012, but my struggles with self-confidence continued to hold me hostage. I spent 2012 to 2017 rediscovering myself, and that season allowed God to do some amazing things within me. I’m so proud of myself for allowing God to show up and show out in my life. The power that He has given me has allowed me to not look at my marriage as a mistake, but as a steppingstone to my greatness.
EricaLynn Harris, recognized as “TheMotivational Queen,” is a speaker, author and entrepreneur whose desire is to motivate and empower women to have the emotional stability to discover their greatness and win in every area of their lives. Erica is the owner of ELynnXpressions, LLC., where she offers an exclusive line of Champion Woman attire, and she is the author of a book titled The Winning Formula for Women. Erica also operates a Facebook group called “The Champion Women’s Society,” which provides a space for women to obtain daily motivation. She is a recipient of The Cornerstone Award, which was presented to her in 2019 at the Embracing Your Inner Woman Annual Conference. Follow her on Instagram @themotivationalqueen or on Facebook @ Facebook.com/EricaLynn.Harris.