Episode 3: Transracial Adoption and Overcoming Breast Cancer with Rachel Garlinghouse

On this episode of The Greater Than Podcast, I speak with Rachel Garlinghouse, author of the book, The Hopeful Mom’s Guide to Adoption: The Wit and Wisdom You Need for the JourneyRachel has been part of the adoption community for a decade and is mothering four children, all of whom were adopted domestically and transracially. Rachel has shared her education and experiences on CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NPR, and Huff Post Live, just to name a few.

In this episode, Rachel and I discuss transracial adoption and, my brave friend speaks openly about her journey as a diabetic and breast cancer survivor. In addition, we talk about the ways in which we can navigate the losses in our lives. There is such hope in Rachel’s message: such inspiration found in living a life of healing verses in living to be healed.

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Paper Stars, Scripture, Becoming New

I received a beautiful piece of scripture on Christmas Eve, 2017. The words were written on a white piece of paper that had been folded into a star. The star was hanging on one of several sparkling Christmas trees that dotted the space where my church was holding its last worship service for the evening.

My pastor for the past five years, Jon Ireland, spoke to those of us in attendance about how true peace is from God: a gift that the world cannot offer. Then, he invited each member of the congregation to go to a Christmas tree in the room and choose one paper ornament. We were to wait to open our chosen ornaments until everyone was back in their seats.

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A Community Cries: Praying for the Victims of the Montecito Mudslide

Kenneth Song/Santa Barbara News-Press, via Reuters

I write this post during a time of great loss and devastation in my community of Santa Barbara and Montecito. A catastrophic mud slide, caused by a powerful storm, has destroyed lives and property.

Hundreds of rescue workers continue to search — round the clock — for the missing. Seventeen people are confirmed dead and this number is expected to rise.

A community that just came through the largest fire in California’s recorded history has now been hit with yet another natural disaster. The Thomas Fire planted the dangerous seed: buckets of rain poured down, early Tuesday morning, on freshly scorched terrain … triggering the massive mudslide.

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The Gift of Community

Light the sparklers and slip into your sequins, we’re getting ready to say goodbye to 2017 and welcome in a new year. As I look back on this year, I can truly say that I’m grateful for each and every moment. No matter the challenge or the triumph, I’m learning and growing into the person that I was created to be.

I’ve learned a lot this year about the importance of community. We were created, each of us, for relationship. We humans cannot thrive alone, in isolation, on our own. In other words, we need each other.

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Faith Rising: Love & Lessons from The Thomas Fire

The past eleven days have been uncertain ones. There is a 240,000 acre California fire that has burned from Ventura County and into Santa Barbara County. Some 8,000 firefighters are battling this blaze and working 24-hour shifts to keep the flames away from homes.

N95 masks have become the new accessory for Santa Barbara residents, like me, due to the unhealthy air from this monster fire. There are days when ash falls like snow.

As I write these words, the Thomas Fire is roughly 30% contained and more dry Santa Ana and sundowner winds are in the forecast. These are uncertain times, indeed.

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#MeToo: Healing the Scars of Sexual Harassment

I just launched a new podcast series called, The Greater Than Podcast. The release of this project is arriving at a time when our nation is facing serious conversation of what has been a sad history of silencing women over their claims of sexual harassment, in the workplace. This dialogue, as painful as it is, is long overdue.

My podcast focuses on how we rise up in the face of challenge, adversity, disappointment and trauma, to be better—greater—as individuals and as a society. In the case of sexual harassment: how can we cleanse this cultural malady and heal, as we share our experiences in a way that is respected and safe? No doubt, answering this question is on the minds and hearts of millions of individuals across our country today.

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Episode 1: Grief, Compassion, & Joy with Natalie Brenner

Welcome to the first episode of The Greater Than Podcast: Grief, Compassion, & Joy.

In this episode, I speak with Natalie Brenner, adoptive mother and author of the book, This Undeserved Life: Uncovering the Gifts of Grief and the Fullness of Life. We explore how we can move through life-shattering events in our lives, and the role that God plays in helping us in times of darkness. We also discuss the ways in which we can compassionately show up for those in our lives who are experiencing grief or pain. In addition, Natalie shares her heart for adoption, motherhood, and the gratitude she feels for the blessings in her life.

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Adoptees: You Are Stronger Than You Know

I once believed that adoption was my weakness. I no longer think this true. Adoption has become my strength.

There was a time in my life when I thought of myself as fragile. I had been internationally adopted out of foster care, as a child. I viewed myself as broken. After all, I questioned, what parent would leave behind a child that was whole? There must be a kind of brokenness about me. I was convinced that the shattered pieces of me were the driving force behind my parents’ decision to walk away. I had done something wrong. I must have committed some sin that mom and dad could not forgive.

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Saying Goodbye to Adoption, by Rachel Garlinghouse

One. The number of medical issues we had that led us to considering adoption.

Ten. That’s the number of years my husband and I have been in the adoption community.

Twenty. The number of times our profile book was shown to expectant parents.

Four. The number of children we have adopted. Also the number of open and transracial adoptions.

One-thousand. The number of times I’ve mulled over our adoption journeys. Perhaps more… Definitely more.

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The Day My Son Said His Birth Mother’s Name

This kid, my son. He’s always had a “bigger than life” way about him. From the very day when we left the orphanage in Russia, I knew that my Vitya was made for incredible things.

Vitya’s caretakers told me how he was known as the “pacifier thief” within the orphanage baby room where he spent the first year of his life. He’d pluck the pacifiers out of the mouths of other babies and stuff them into his own. It was common to see my boy, on any given day, contently sucking on three pacifiers at one time. He’s always been a bold boy. And, we’ve always had a special bond.

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