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Here we are at a new church. Surrounded, again, by people. No one really knows me. They might know my name. Or maybe my husband’s name. But they know nothing about me. Except maybe what they see on social media. Or what they’ve been told by their friends.

New places. New faces. New names to remember.

They don’t know me or my story. They look at me as complete and whole. A big family, happy and content.

They see rescuers because we adopted.

They see parents because we have children.

RELATED: Don’t Be Fooled by My Photos: Our Family isn’t Perfect

They see a wife, a husband because we walk in together.

They see a team, our family, siblings, and children.

But they don’t see the whole.

They don’t see the mess. The suffering. The sorrow. The holes.

They don’t see the weeping or trauma-induced triggers. They see the outside. Put (somewhat) together. Chasing toddlers, holding babies, teasing teens. They see the mended, the healed, the new normal.

But I want them to know the lament. The ache. The longing. The struggle.

The yearning for holy and more holy and more holy. The longing for Heaven and Him and true love.

What I want them to see is the Lord making this beautiful life out of literal ashes.

Fires and floods, hunger and abandonment, loss and grief. He has and He is and He will continue bringing joy into the deep grief, providing peace in the chaos. Because honestly? Only He can.

RELATED: God Can Exchange Beauty For Our Ashes

I am small and weak. Not enough, not ever enough. I burn dinner and lose patience. I get anxious in crowds and new places. I am not the rescuer. I am the rescued. I can love because I am beloved by Him. I am a complete and utter mess and failure, and Jesus somehow turns that into His glory and my good and my family’s good.

What you see isn’t always what you get. We are real, transparent, and vulnerable. We are a mess, chaotic, and almost always late to everything. But we love Jesus. We love people, especially our people. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Tiffany Nardoni

As a little girl Tiffany wanted only to be a wife and a mother. Life was planned and goals were set. Things were working out, until they weren’t. Dreams were shattered when Tiffany and her husband, Jeff, lost their sweet Thao, their firstborn son. Picking up the pieces isn’t easy, but God is using this unplanned life for something good. Tiffany currently resides in the midwest with her husband and their four children. Her favorite things include homeschooling, adventuring, coffee and writing. Her first book, Still (when all else fades away), was released last year in memory of her son, Thao. You can find out more on her blog,

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