DNA vs Identity Part 5 – Reflections & Revelations

FORGIVENESS IS A DOOR TO A HEALTHIER FUTURE!!

It is so easy to retreat into your own mind when you learn shocking news. When I reflect upon the first 6 months of 2021, I am still shocked to see how much has changed in my world, yet so much remains the same. This thought came to the other day, “Forgiveness is a door to a healthier future.”

Emotional health drives your physical health more than what you eat or drink. We all know that stress can kill you. But I pose this question, “Does bitterness also lead to your demise?” Bitter people are angry and difficult to be around. If one feels this horrible inside, it will begin show on the outside. Having an unforgiving heart is usually what leads to bitterness. Whether the person has immense guilt or has suffered from deep trauma, forgiving yourself and others allows peace to reside within you.

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15

I could harbor anger and resentment towards my parents for so many reasons. But when I think back, it was them, both of them, who taught me about forgiveness. They weren’t even Christians at that time, yet held a high regard to the importance of letting go and forgiving. I had to ask myself how my life would be affected if I were to victimize myself by their choices? It’s likely I would be absolutely miserable. Additionally, I would be losing out on so many of the blessings that I am now experiencing.

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” Ephesians 4:31

They betrayed one another, details do not matter and frankly are none of MY business. I was their child, not spouse. What happened in their marriage was none of my business then. Plus, I wasn’t mature enough to understand it. Now that I know the umbrella level of their story and the pain they both caused one another, I appreciate them immensely! They tried, really tried for 17 or 18 years! 

“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD cares for me.” Psalm 27:10

If they were still here, I know they would be honest with me. I forgave my dad for being honest with me when I was 13 for the actions he confessed. He spared me the details…again none of my business! I was angry. I admitted it and we discussed it. He helped me to forgive him! He took the time and emotional investment in each question I had. I forgave him and moved ahead. 

My aunt, his sister, tried to tell me things about my mom when I was 14 or 15. Perhaps she was looking to tell me the truth. I explained to her then, that information was not my business. They both loved me! Now, that was my business. After trying to work things out so many times they divorced; soon afterward my sweet mother passed away from cancer. My aunt and I had another conversation after my father passed away and I do believe she really wanted to tell me. It turns out that even she had not been forthcoming with her children either. They grew up believing that one man was their father and he was not. One of my cousins responded with awful actions and a bitter heart. The other cousin still has a wonderful relationship with her father, he chose them after all. She really loved my parents and understands so much more than anyone realizes. But I know it and her wonderful heart.

I’ll fast forward to now, I know the story which began the demise of their relationship and resulted in me. I’m at peace with both of them STILL!! I’m still processing the woman who was the catalyst to their initial split. I am doing well only because I wouldn’t be here if she had been honoring my parents marriage. My dad couldn’t and never did have a biological child.

Their actions against one another were not “personal” to me. It did not and still would not change their love for me. What happens between a married or even non-married couple is not any of the child’s business. At least not all of the details. Sometimes they know or figure it out and want confirmation.

When there is a change in who the biological parent(s) are, there would be questions obviously. I’m thankful for the knowledge I now have.

Ultimately, I witnessed them forgive one another and didn’t even realize just how much. I knew they loved one another yet could not fully heal. Why? Not my business! 

I miss both of my parents so very much!!! Yet, I’m blessed beyond belief to have found a sister regardless of the mister! That man will never know the blessings he missed out on. Just take a look at how much my grandson also resembles my biological father. I also added myself to a picture from roughly the same age as Jimmy in his photo.

Ultimately in the end, I am grateful that it all worked out the way it did. My life has been greatly enriched even though my world flipped upside down.

Abiding Still, Rachele

DNA vs Identity Part 3

Ungraceful. Inelegant. Clumsy. Carelessly…

Yes, that is exactly how I have felt about my behavior since January. Life has thrown some crazy stuff at me lately. The gamete stretches from good to stressful at warped speed. What is the good, you ask? I am so glad you asked! I am engaged to a man that is far beyond the man of my dreams. I have never met someone who has endured this level of difficulty in such a short amount of time! To call my fiancé a ‘gem’ would be a mammoth understatement. I don’t think the rest of our lives will be long enough to properly express my gratitude. What I do know is that he is God’s gift designed just for me. He unknowingly stepped into the chaos of my life (some of which I was unaware myself). I promise to fill you in. The stressful points are common to some and uncommon to most.

I must admit that this journey had me questioning my sanity at times. Once I realized that the results were real on Ancestry, my perspective changed. Words really cannot describe how this news makes one feel. I questioned everything about my past for a brief period. But then again, there are times we simply must ask ourselves some tough questions. It was time to make sure my plumb line was correct for my own emotional and spiritual wellbeing. The following are some of the questions I have asked myself:

  1. What is DNA vs Identity?
  2. Who do I think I am?
  3. Who does God say I am?
  4. How do I know God is present in this chaos?

1. DNA vs Identity

We spend our early lives identifying who we are based upon who are parents are. Once we have reached elementary school age, our identity is influenced through friends and teachers. A child will notice invitations to birthday parties and sleepovers to determine how they fit. Receiving a birthday invitation validates our existence, this carries into junior high and high school as well. The crowd we run with not only affects how you see yourself but also how others, namely adults, see you. We look into the mirror to determine our self worth based upon current societal standards. During this time in our lives, we forget or never learn to look inward and truly know who we are. It is in our DNA and the behaviors which surround us. Some families truly celebrate their heritage while others celebrate culture, religion, and status quo. This still will never determine who we are. DNA tells us where we came from and possible inherited traits, behaviors, and health. DNA does not determine the value of self. What I have observed over the last few months in that more and more people are determining their worth on the DNA results. It is serving as confirmation for some and deep heartache for others. The shock that comes from an unexpected result is very real and very deep. And once again, we are looking in the mirror wondering exactly who we are.

2. Who Am I?

In part 2 of my journey, I mentioned that I would stare into the mirror and wonder where my traits originated. But God had other plans as to how I should look into the mirror. In 1977, at the tender age of 5, I accepted Christ as my Savior. My Memaw, my mom’s mother, would take me to church with her when I would stay the weekend and that is how I came to know the Lord. Discipleship did not enter my life until adulthood; however, I always knew that He was with me. After my mother passed away in 1983, I felt lost all over again but I knew He was still with me. The thought that ran through my head was, “Who am I without my mom?” I was only 11 years old and had all of the toughest parts of being a girl ahead of me. She had the foresight to tell me all sorts of things about life, for which I am forever grateful. It was HIM, because He was with me. My father had the biggest part in teaching me to love, forgive, and treat others better than I wanted to be treated. Although he never attended church or read his Bible, he was actually teaching me as the Lord Himself would.

He taught me to be kind, treat others with kindness and grace, and that I was to never think of myself as better than anyone else. To him, it was the golden Rule, but in the end I have always known it was my Heavenly Father speaking through him. My dad always pushed me to do better as well. He would be so disappointed when I would have a grade less than 85% for the six weeks or on a test. And yes, I would be grounded until the next report card. And yes, he would often let me off early. Being an only child had its advantages in that regard. He would ground me, yet we would still go to the movies. He was a softy in a hard crabby shell. He told me I was smart, capable, beautiful, and creative. He told me he loved me and other than my rebellious years, I always believed him. He passed away in 1997 when I was 24. That was likely harder on me than my mom. She had been suffering; his was sudden. It seemed unfair. It was then that God first told me that I am not an orphan. In fact, the Lord began to teach me that I was HIS child. At that point in my life, I began to get a glimpse of who I am.

3. Who Does God Say I Am?

  • He says I am NEW! All of the old me has passed away and HE has made me NEW! 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • He says I am reconciled! 2 Corinthians 5:18
  • He says I am a Princess! Psalm 45:13
  • He says I am an heir! Romans 8:17
  • He says I am accepted! Romans 15:7
  • He says I am a temple! 1 Corinthians 6:19
  • He says I am loved! John 3:16
  • He says I am free! Romans 8:2
  • He says I am redeemed! Romans 3:34
  • He says I am a branch! John 15:1, 5
  • He says I am a friend! John 15:15
  • HE SAYS I AM HIS CHILD!!! John 1:12

He calls us His own. He loves us. Why should I be lost in any conclusion about myself other than HIS? I am sacrificially loved by my Heavenly Father! It is not about WHO we are in the end; it is about WHOSE we are!

4. How Do I Know God is Present!

God being present is where we often struggle. This is also where it is difficult to convince a non-Christian of His existence. But if you have faith you can sense the things unseen and feel the things that are not tangible. God has been with me throughout my life. He was there when He called me to his own. He was there when He called my parents to their heavenly home. HE IS HERE!

I know God is present when I am at my weakest. His words have filled my heart when sorrow cast its shadow upon my soul. He was present when my car would not move at the green light and the 18 wheeler plowed through their red light at an obnoxious speed. He was there during every gift and every heartache this life has thrown my way. I could list so many different times that He revealed Himself to me, but I will conclude with the present experience.

I know God IS present while I process the DNA results of fatherhood. He IS present because HE was already here with me. Since the early 2000’s I have studied the different names of the Lord. It was this meditation which helped me to accept this new reality: Johnny “Chico” was not my biological father. It is as strange to type as it is to hear. A man named James “Jimmy” was actually the one who took part in my conception. Since both fathers are no longer living, God has made His presence real and upfront for me. Whether it was something a friend said or sent, or something I read at the right moment, He was here and holding me. When ever I would pray about how this could possibly be for my good, I would be reminded that He brings beauty from ashes. When the sobbing would ensue, I could feel His indescribable peace wash over me.

I now feel total peace over these results, but I know there will still be moments when the shock wave will rollover my heart again. I have so much to look forward to in getting to know my sister and all the blessings that will bring to both of our lives. At least now when I look into the mirror I know where I received my physical attributes. Finally, I know that WHO I am isn’t really the relevant question any longer. It’s WHOSE I am, that brings me the peace which surpasses all understanding.

Abiding Still, Rachele

DNA vs IDENTITY Part 2

Short recap from Part 1: I am an NPE offspring! (Not Parent Expected). December 2020 left my hindsight completely blurry with questions of paternity for myself. My life flashed before my eyes and I no longer recognized the woman looking at me from the mirror. WHO WAS SHE? Better yet, WHO fathered me? Where do I turn? My constant thought…”I need to find a counselor soon and fast!”


Mid-laughter poses are the best!

My 2021 journey began with shock and I wasn’t sure when it would stop. January through March is all but a complete blur with a tunnel of fuzzy memories and strange names on my AncestryDNA matches. I thought I might lose my mind! I still see my maiden name on the list but only through distant relatives, no first cousins! There were so many different names I had never heard of or seen. There have been plenty of trees and I had done my research! I had to walk away or I would retreat and crumble… But GOD… He stepped in and slowly the fog began to lift as the connections became clearer. I found the support groups previously mentioned and connected with my closest relative…A SISTER!

Saturday, April 10th, I met my sister, Ronda! This last weekend was wonderful! It was a terrific first meeting and I cannot wait for the next one!! It was so surreal to look into another person’s face and see glimpses of myself. We looked through some pictures on her phone, talked about ourselves, and really truly connected. The similarities were striking! My fiancé noticed that our reactions were the same to hilarious moments. We tilt our head the same in pictures and squint our eyes tightly when cracking up with laughter. Yep! We were definitely sisters! God is good! I love her already!!


As a child, I would study my reflection in the mirror to distinguish any resemblance to my daddy. I saw his nose, face shape, and eye shape and think “oh there it is”. I had fuller lips than my mom those must be his, but I had her smile. Being an only child, I had a lot of time on my hands. My entire life has been one conversation regarding my mom…”You look just like your mom!” To be honest, I do see it but not to the degree everyone else did or does. The shape of her face and eyes did not match up in my mind. I do bear a strong resemblance to her no doubt about it. There was just something missing in my reflection. My blood type and recessive traits all lined up for the possibility of me as offspring from my parents. Now that I reflect upon my childhood, it is evident that I had doubts regarding my father. It wasn’t something I had even truly recognized until this exact week in my life. The fact that I was always searching and comparing myself to him was obviously a subconscious desire for confirmation and consolation. Yet, he WAS my DADDY and still IS. He understood me and I understood him, even when we did not see eye to eye. I had honest and poignant conversations with him and I miss him all the time. On April 28th of this year he would have turned 79 years old. My heart remains heavy and empty regarding him. A cousin told me today that she thinks he knew. How incredible is that?! My parents had a tumultuous relationship. They loved each other deeply but they were both careless with one another’s heart. The Lord was not the center of their relationship and I came along after they had already been married for 10 years. A child brought a lot of changes to their lives. Apparently, too many things remained unchanged. They were officially married for only 17 years.

Now that I reflect upon my childhood it is evident that I had doubts regarding my father.


WHO AM I?

As women we are told that the mirror doesn’t lie. But what exactly was my mirror trying to tell me? That had been my life long thorn I suppose. Looking into the mirror and just not seeing the whole image would often leave me wondering. Where did I get that strange lifted right eyebrow? Why was I able to draw out of nowhere? The endless stories I could create by merely having something capture my attention…where did this all come from? The fact that I did not have learn something to ace a test on the subject left me curious. But the most puzzling thing remained, that woman staring back at me. Who was she? Then fast forward to 2021 and the new paternal revelation…

Mirror Mirror on the wall, i see my reflection after all!

I already see the blessing that is Ronda! She is a fabulous woman and already feels like family to me! I absolutely cannot wait to get to know her more! We get to spend time together and do silly things we would have done as teens. We also have the opportunity ahead of us to explore the world and see exactly how our Heavenly Father drew us together. We are a living testimony of how beauty comes from ashes!

Until then, I will be abiding still in His infinite love and the blessings of sisterhood!

Rachele

DNA vs IDENTITY Part 1

NPE = Not Parent Expected

2021 began with big discovery for me and it has taken me some time to truly digest and understand it. For Christmas, I bought my fiancé and I the AncestryDNA kits. I sent mine in quickly because I was not going to wrap mine. The results came in at the end of December. After briefly glancing at it I realized that I did not have time to walk through it, so I waited. We moved in January and it was then that I started looking into the matches. There were so many matches a few of which I recognized. So I thought to myself, “Ok, this is real because I am matching with my cousin Michael.” Then I noticed a “close family” match, which began my investigation into my DNA matches.

I spent most of my nights awake for hours trying to make sense of this “evidence”. Prior to the AncestryDNA test, I took the CRIGenetics DNA test. That test came back 40% German, which was no surprise to me. However, AncestryDNA says that I am only 3% German but more English and Scottish. I am still trying to decipher that information. As each night would linger on I would look up resources and charts for interpreting DNA results. There are charts available that show the possible relations with your matches based upon Centimorgans (CMs). Facebook also offers many groups for support and sharing when there is a DNA surprise. Most of the sites I found were due to searching for DNA counseling and assistance to make sense of it all. I think I had discovered that I might belong to a new group of people, The NPE’s.

Centimorgans is what experts use to describe how much DNA and the length of specific segments of DNA you share with your relatives. These shared segments are divided up into centimorgans. The more centimorgans you share with someone, the more closely you are related.

A “close relative” match of 1859 CMs would be either of the following: Grandparent, Aunt/Uncle, Niece/Nephew, Grandchild, or Half Sibling. So at this point, I went through each possibility and looked Shane in the eyes and said, “This lady is my half sister!!! There is no other possible option! I am going to reach out to her and ask her how she thinks we are connected.” With his full support, I messaged her and was met with shock on my part. SHE had been looking for ME!! Wait! What?!? Apparently, Bio-Dad knew I existed. Since all parties involved in my birth and rearing have passed away, I will never have full answers. I am ok with that! This discovery was not something I was expecting at all. There was no doubt in my mind about my father. Commencing forth was the shock and shut down of my world. I did not know how to understand or accept this. It was just more than my brain could handle.

Chico is Not the Father?

After a few messages with her, we became friends on Facebook and exchanged phone numbers. Then I just had to find more pictures! She texted some pictures and I had grabbed a couple of the Ancestry Tree of bio-dad. So I decided to make some comparisons of the images to help my overloaded brain and heart. Let me tell you that as soon as I compared him to my son I was DONE! This man was definitely my biological father, no more doubts!

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Biological Father: Jimmy vs My Son! This is the image that got me!

NOW I HAD SOME RESEARCH TO DO!

Entering into the scene that is now my life are some wonderful people from supportive Facebook groups! DNA Surprise Support Group, DNA NPE Friends, NPE Only: After the Discovery, and last but definitely not least DNAngels Client Group. I had an interview with DNAngels and they accepted me as a client. The lady that took my case was extremely thorough and did confirm that James Hardman was my biological Father. I was also able to ask her about connecting with others through my expected father…my maiden name is linked to my mother’s side of the family! Then I discovered that my first love is my cousin!! We had reunited and it did not pan out, now I am glad. THAT IS JUST WEIRD!! This story just keeps adding twists and turns. (I hope they are all done now!)

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My Son vs Jimmy (BF) Their beards even grow the exact same way!

As you can see, I am convinced that this man was with my mother. Part of me is glad I do not have to face either of my parents with this new reality. They loved me and I loved them! They can rest in Heaven and I have a new sister! She and I have contact when we can. My Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways for sure. My half sister actually lives near my future mother in law! We are going to meet in person this Saturday. There is probably still more to this story and I will update after we meet!

Where am I? Or as Shane will ask me, “How is your heart today?” I am doing OK! This all brought me back to my one TRUE FATHER, ABBA, DADDY, The MOST SOVEREIGN FATHER OF ALL! My parents shaped me and did an overall wonderful job with me through many trials and illnesses. My mother died when I was 11 and my father when I was 24. My new half sister told me that Jimmy passed away in 2009. We will not be getting any explanations or answers. So, where do you go when you don’t know what is next and your mind is a mess? I go to the ROCK, My Father in Heaven. I have studied His names for years upon years. All of that time studying about God being our Father has truly helped me through this situation. HE knew then what I know now! HE carefully prepared me to absorb this shock and welcome this wonderful lady into my life. She even told me that Grandmother Hardman would be so pleased and is likely telling everyone in Heaven that we finally met!

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I could be mad. I was.

I could be sad. I was.

I could be hurt. I was.

I could be confused. I was.

I could be shaken. I was.

Or I could have faith. I DO!

Because, I am a daughter of the KING! I am HIS and HE is mine! I don’t have to question my identity, ethnicity, or even my earthly father! I put my trust in the Heavenly Father who tended to my heart before I even knew I needed it!

Abiding Still,

Rachele