We found out we were pregnant just shy of our one year anniversary. For the lack of a better word it was an unplanned "surprise" to which a plethora of emotions soon followed. At first there was just fear and anxiety but slowly those feelings shifted more toward excitement and joy. I was 21 years old; and it was not in "my plan" but as the days turned to weeks and the weeks into months I began dreaming about my little girl. My husband was sure it was a boy, but something in me was holding onto my little Ema. Would she look like me? Would she have my thick hair? Would her thumbs look like toes and her voice deeper than most men? (Yes, I think of these things). My dreams were put on hold, however, when we found out after 16 long weeks that it wasn't God's time and our sweet Michael would soon be joining us.

A few years had passed and we had decided it was time to even out our family number. The second pregnancy was harder, I could barely lift my head from the couch that I had planted myself on without barfing up anything I had actually managed to get down. It was a struggle, but this one, this one would be our girl, and all of the pain and nausea in the world could not compare to the joy I would have in holding her. She would be my sidekick, my mini me, my favorite pedicure date, and my little partner in crime. As we walked out of the doctor's office after hearing we were having another boy, I cried. I knew I would love him and he would be just what our family needed. I knew we would be incomplete without our Jacob, but my heart was still holding on to our little Shepherd girl.

Not long after Jake we were surprised yet again with a third pregnancy. It was a whirlwind of exhaustion and emotion, one which was cut short at 13 weeks when we lost our baby due to a miscarriage. I cried unrelenting tears for weeks and had to hold back my sadness for the months to follow as many of my friends and even family announced that they were expecting their daughters.

It was hard to see someone else being given the very gift I had been praying for for years.

I remembered a dream I once had as a young girl about adoption and after many heartfelt conversations with my husband we decided that our Ema would join our family through a less traditional route. We moved in the middle of our certification, but it didn't stop us from working through the process with a new organization in record speed. We were licensed as foster to adopt parents in August 2014... and have been waiting ever since.

We have met two beautiful girls that were given to another family, were placed with two more that ended up being taken back less than 36 hours later, and have received endless calls all of which have resulted in not being chosen as their forever family. Each of our friends who have gone through the adoption certification process within the same timeline as (or after) us have now, not only been placed, but are all signing their official adoption papers before Christmas. I am happy for them. But I wish I could be more happy for them.

Their pictures of their families, now complete, are beautiful but at the same time give me such pain.

I know that being happy for someone else should not result in being sad for ourselves, but I have been... I have become extremely discouraged. Where was my girl? Or girls? Were they out there at all? Would I never receive one of my heart's greatest desires? Why was God not answering me? The answer is that I don't know. And right now, that's all I have. If God wills then yes in His perfect timing we will have our Ema, but if He doesn't (and yes that is a possibility) then I will have to thank God for what He has already allowed me to have.

I have 500 daughters of which I am so very thankful for.

They reside all across the country and some even speak a different language. Most are still students finding their way through the roller coaster that is their teenage years, but many have been married now and some even have families of their own. My girls have accomplished incredible things and inspired many. They have become youth pastors and teachers, hair dressers and nurses. My girls have given me more joy than I ever thought possible. My girls have given me more joy than they could ever know.

As a youth pastor I have had the honor and the privilege to mentor and love every single girl who has entered through our church doors or sat through a service I was asked to lead. Whether I was able to spend years with them or just a few moments, they became mine. Whether they know it or not, like it or not, they have a piece of my heart. I have prayed for them, cried with them, believed in them, and walked beside them. They have become my greatest joy and sometimes my greatest sorrow. I am a daughterless mom of 500 daughters and I would have missed it had I not stepped back to ask God why we have been asked to wait so long.

These girls are not legally mine but I feel drawn to them nonetheless. My heart is filled with memories of them and I cherish every one. Some have incredible mothers, some mothers who are struggling, and some have no mother at all. I used to believe that I should not care so much about another woman's child but it's simply not true.

We need more women to be spiritual mothers to these young girls.

We needs college students to rise up to be big sisters, women to rise up to be mothers, and our grandmothers to take on more grandchildren. We need to pursue godliness and righteous living so we can show these beautiful ladies what it looks like to love and serve God. We need to show them how to wage war against division with their sisters in Christ and stand in faith for strong, healthy families. We need to show them what being a woman really means and how powerful she can be. WE NEED YOU!

The bible says, "likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then THEY can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." (Titus 2:3-5)

I don't know where you find yourself in life but I am praying that you would join me in this. In finding more room in your hearts for daughters you never knew you had. Because we need you, them and I. We weren't supposed to figure out life on our own.

Will you be that mother?

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To my girls I love you.

-Mom

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