Hi I'm Rochelle
I stay at home with my four awesome little kiddos! I have two girls and two boys. Both my boys have disabilities. I seem to always be on the go. I suppose this is the typical life of a mom, but I LOVE it! I grew up in Idaho and went to college in Utah, where I met my husband. After graduation, we married and moved to UNC Chapel Hill for grad school. Next came Iowa, where we had our first baby. Ethan was born with cerebral palsy. We didn’t learn this until he was 6 months old and learned he’d had a stroke in utero. This brought a host of issues, including mental disabilities and seizures. Through all of it, we have been so grateful for our faith in God, which has really helped us to deal with whatever challenges life brings. We've lived in Texas for 13 years now and love it! We had our two girls here and in 2006, adopted Derick. He has Down’s Syndrome, he’s non-verbal and working on potty-training, so our house is kind of a crazy place to be. Both boys are the same age and in Life Skills at school where they have GREAT teachers. When I get a spare moment, I love reading. The other love of my life is travel. During the week, I volunteer at the kids’ schools. I’m the room mom for both my girls’ classes. In the last couple of years, family history has become a new passion of mine. I also volunteer at the local children's hospital. I love decorating my house, sewing, and playing in my garden. My roses take up WAY more of my energy than they deserve! ☺
Why I am a Mormon
My family was among the first to be called “Mormons”, but that doesn’t make me one. My faith in Jesus Christ does. Though I was born to good parents who were members of the church, I still had to decide for myself if I believed what they taught. I have ancestors who were with the church before it was even a church. One mortgaged his farm to publish the Book of Mormon. But, while my father was raised in this well-known Mormon family, ironically they didn’t actually go to church. At 19, he had to get on his knees to determine what was true. First, he simply asked if God was real. Then, he asked if this was His church. I’m so glad that he did that, because this ended a chain and gave our family a new start. Although his family had a deep Mormon legacy; for generations, the fathers struggled with alcoholism, to the point where many men and families were destroyed. So, in many ways, my dad sort of taught himself to be a father. As the oldest child, I think it goes without saying that for me, this caused some rocky moments! But, in spite of that, the thing my parents tried most to teach us was how to gain our own knowledge, faith and testimony of Jesus Christ. Very early on, they encouraged us to read the scriptures and pray for our own answers. I did read the Book of Mormon for the first time when I was in 8th grade. When I finished, honestly I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel. I think I was expecting fireworks, or something. But I kept trying to do what was right and over the next few years, through the programs of the church, I had many opportunities to feel the Holy Ghost. At one point, I simply had to ask myself, “Where do you find the most happiness?” I knew that when I obeyed God I was happiest. By the time I went to college, I had a very strong faith in Christ’s gospel. Some people could look at me and say, “Your family on both sides has always been Mormon (since there was such a thing!). Of course, you are Mormon.” But, every person has to decide what they believe for themselves. I looked at my ancestors and wondered why one would be willing to lose everything to publish a controversial book? Why another would leave her comfortable home in the dead of winter at the point of a gun? Why not just give up this new religion and go back to the comfortable life before? I had to learn for myself that what drove these people was a fire of faith that burned in their hearts that they couldn’t deny. I now have that same faith. My parents and my ancestors didn’t give it to me. They simply gave the tools, and I had to work for it. But it is strong and undeniable. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and testifies of Jesus Christ. I know that this is His church. This faith gives me a peace that drives all my decisions in life and gives me a happiness and joy that is indescribable.
How has the Holy Ghost helped you?
All the major decisions in my life have been made after listening to and following the Holy Ghost. His direction can be different for each person. And even personally it can vary from simply feeling very good about a decision, actually hearing words in my head, or other times, I just feel very warm inside, even on the verge of tears. Either way, I am confident in the direction I should take. One of the biggest decisions I’ve made was to adopt our little boy. This was honestly not my own idea, but something that God directed me to do from the beginning (through the feelings of the Holy Ghost). I had three babies via c-section (and one baby lost in the 2nd trimester) and so my doctor closed up shop on more babes for our family. Which, quite frankly, was fine with me. Our oldest had disabilities and with two younger girls, our house was kind of crazy! Then about a year after our youngest was born, I was at the gym watching something on tv about the little girls in Chinese orphanages. A little voice came into my head, “You could do that.” It felt like it came out of nowhere. But I knew it was the Holy Ghost telling us to adopt. Well, fast forward about a year and a half. My husband and I were driving to his parents after a week camping with my family. In the midst of enjoying precious time with our favorite people, my husband brought up the whole adoption thing, knowing that family is what life is all about. I realized that this was where the rubber hit the road. It was one thing to think big, but to actually put those ideas into action was a little scary. Ok, a LOT scary! When we got home to Texas, I started praying about what we should do. I received an answer so directly and specific, that I knew there was no question as to what our course would be. My head was flooded with words that were not my own. They actually felt like scripture. I got off my knees with tears streaming down my face. From that moment on, my husband and I both knew that we would adopt a child who was handicapped. Specifically, I was hoping for a little boy with Down’s Syndrome about our son’s age. After our first child, we had an idea of what we were doing. And there are so many disabled children floundering in the foster care system. They need loving, permanent homes. About 4 days later, I found a little boy through an adoption link on a fast food website. He was a month younger than our oldest boy and had Down’s Syndrome. My first thought was, “I could love that little boy.” At the time, my husband was in the family room, dancing with the kids. I could just imagine this little boy thrown into that mix. I showed my hubby the webpage and he felt the same. It took about 8 months before we brought him home. There were many interesting ups and downs to the process and I know that God led the way for our son to come to our home. He is non-verbal and not potty-trained, so some days can be difficult. Because I know that this is what God wanted for our family, it makes those difficult days easier. This gives me confidence and great comfort that I can do it. That’s what the Holy Ghost does for me. The fear that initially accompanied this process melted away when I knew that this was God’s path for me. By following the Holy Ghost, I have found that God’s plan was better than anything I could have ever planned for myself. I’m just beginning to see the blessings He has in store for me and my family. They extend into the eternities!
What has helped develop greater harmony in your home?
We have four children who all bring totally different things to the table! Ethan is reaching the teen years and is mentally disabled. He is making great progress, but with the natural hormones that flow at this age, it has been difficult navigating the aggressive outbursts on occasion. If he acts up, it is usually on the bus or when he gets to school. It’s very stressful and sometimes he can actually be violent. Derick is the same age as Ethan and has some of the same issues. He can be sweet one second and the next, he will start crying and hitting. Children with Down’s Syndrome tend to be quite obstinate. It takes a lot of patience and physical strength some days. With the girls, I have one who is basically a mini-me. She is my mother’s curse. She has a fierce little temper, but is also hilarious, fun and FULL of energy. Her sister is the complete opposite. She has energy to spare as well, but she is fairly calm and consistent. But, now that she is in double digits, she is starting to have some moody moments as she tries to figure out who she is. With this volatile mix, it can really be a challenge to maintain peace and harmony in our home. Honestly, it’s my main goal each day. I couldn’t do it, if we didn’t all have the same goals and help from above. Each morning, I pray for patience to deal with the challenges. I never know if the girls will have a fight or if the boys will throw a tantrum getting to school. I have no control over these things. As a person who likes control, this has been a bitter pill to swallow, but there it is! I can, however, be the one who stays calm through the storms. The girls always say their morning prayers before school and I think that has helped them to remember how they should behave each day. As a family, we read scriptures and say prayers together every night. Being consistent in this has really helped our family. It can be late and everyone’s in a bad mood, but we still do it. Some nights, the girls have questions and we end up having very deep discussions and good learning moments. They have learned reverence and a love for the scriptures. We have also helped them memorize many scriptures over the last couple of years. These have been great because if they start fighting, I can make them recite a scripture about love or harmony. Yes, I’m that mom! Basically, everyone’s life is crazy. Raising kids is not easy. No matter what kind of kids you have. But, the church has given us a blueprint to help things along. That doesn’t mean that the challenges go away. Ethan doesn’t always magically behave, but I can pray and receive great doses of peace. We are trying to teach our children and help them be successful adults and having prayer and scriptures really gives us the tools we need. Overall, there is a great amount of love in our home and it comes from a shared love of God. We invite Him in and we have felt His help on many occasions.
How I live my faith
My faith bleeds into every aspect of my life. It has shaped who I am in more ways than I could specify. I hope it has made me a more patient and loving person. I try to give my life in service to others. This is where I find my greatest joy. Obviously being a mom to 4 children, especially those with special needs, requires much service. The organizations of the church give me many opportunities to serve. I have spent most of my adult life serving the teenagers of our congregation. I love it so much! Currently, I teach early morning bible study to the high school kids from church. We have a great time learning about the Old Testament together and trying to stay awake at 6 am! My faith helps guide my everyday decisions. It shapes how I treat others, how I see my children and how I manage my marriage. Having a shared love of the gospel of Jesus Christ brings such a depth to our marriage! I am so grateful to have a husband who tries so hard to be good. He inspires me to be a better person. Our faith causes all of us in the home to use an extra dose of respect and compassion. We struggle just like every family. Our girls have arguments and often the boys can be very difficult, but we know that God has a plan for us and it helps us all to be more patient. We believe that our family relationships are not just for this life, but will continue after we leave this earth. This gives us a purpose. Our faith helps us to know who we are and where we are going. Little arguments are put in perspective when we have this vision.