Peace Seeker: Intro

There are a lot of adjectives that have been used to describe me. My mood, my voice, my attitude, my personality, my decision(s), my life, my future. “Peace” was never one. (Well, “peaceful” may be more accurate, but still, never used.) A lot of the words used to describe me I laugh off, but I would be lying if I said they didn’t sting or cause hurt. Recently I read a post, encouraging moms (and dads!) to speak carefully around our children, no matter their size, no matter their assumed comprehension. Ah the guilt trip that has followed! I am keenly reminded again of all the words thrown at me and the result, sometimes pain, sometimes love, and realized I have fallen short and need to think carefully before speaking to my boys.

I am Rachelle. I am a wife and mom. I am a daughter, a sister, a woman who prefers the tomboy side of life and all the good foods. I am so many things, so many words can be put here but they don’t always accurately reflect me, all of me. I am sure you would tell me that the same can be said of you as well. Our pasts do not define us, but the shape us and impact us. We are whole beings, made up of many parts and they do not all shine through at the same moment. I hope this blog, Peace Seeker, will speak to you in the midst of the busyness that is our life. I hope to share personal stories, funny and serious, how I left the Mennonite church but found my faith in the process, of being adopted and navigating those hurts but not being a victim.

I see things very black and white, right or wrong and sometimes my written words do not always accurately reflect the grace I want to express. Sometimes, too often maybe, I seem like I am spouting judgement. This is not my intent! 

I am sharing because I wish in my journey I would have had internet and access to someone who could share honestly the positives and negatives and I could have taken better roads. Though as an opinionated person, I know changing my mind may have been difficult.
The inspiration for my blog has been dwelling inside of me for so long, I struggle to open myself up and some of these posts will be tearfully written followed by a day or two of needing to emotionally recharge! If these posts speak to you, please post your thoughts and/or questions!
I introduced myself briefly above but here I will add more “fun” facts. I do love to cook and bake, however I hate to clean my kitchen when I am done! Can you relate? I have a tiny kitchen and too often I allow that to keep me from being more adventurous with my kitchen fun. Recently I made cinnamon rolls from my newest Pioneer Woman cookbook. My husband bought it for me! (Full disclosure: He didn’t know in advance, however when he spied yet another box from Amazon, I was sure to thank him from the bottom of my heart! Of course, as I thanked him, I scurried off to the kitchen to bake something. Coincidence? Maybe.) I also love being a mom, a woman raising tomorrow’s men. An avid TV drama watcher while I fold laundry or work my at-home business, or a sleepless night with a young one. I love a good, stimulating conversation and I love challenges! I am a Christian and I hope to show clearly God’s hand in my life as I share experiences and memories here. I also enjoy watching my boys’ imaginations at work. They have such avid imaginations that are typically right in synch! I am learning to enjoy weekends of downtime with my husband of 7 years! Yes, you read that right. In case I haven’t mentioned it or made it clear, I am not like a lot of women. And I am learning to blend and learn from them but still be comfortable with myself. A job in and of itself!
Thank you for joining me as I share here, laugh and cry with me but when you’ve finished reading, go share a smile with a stranger.
“For you were called to freedom, brothers (and sisters). Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

Love, Rachelle 


Peace Seeker: Sometimes We Rest

Busy accurately describes my life lately. Exhausted. Stressed.

I’m considering my future for the the first time in quite a long time. Debating the pros and cons of nursing school and really thinking when and where.

Choosing joy. I’m a huge advocate for this. I often have this mindset. But I’m realizing again, joy and happiness aren’t synonymous.

My job brings me a sense of satisfaction, I feel like I’ve accomplished something at the end of the day. Being a mom, helping my family, dreaming of the future.. all these things are good but there’s a key ingredient missing lately.


I know, I know. Time’s up! But still. It isn’t. I miss Liam.

I talked to my pastor the other week. My mom was hospitalized. Life was hard and the unknown was staring me in the face again.

“Life is hard, Pastor Jerry,” I confess, without much forethought. “I want my baby!”

He nodded. He saw my pain, acknowledging the rough road we have had to journey.

There’s much I have left unsaid, struggles and feelings. There is much struggle left for me to fight. And some days, it’s all too much.

So some days I rest. Some days I set the struggle aside, I focus on 1 single task for the day. And I accomplish it. Then I move onto really contemplating if I can do another.

It sounds silly, I know.

But it isn’t.

Jesus stepped away, Jesus rested.

And so must we.

Joy. Happiness. These two are not the same.

But in setting aside the extras. In saying: “today I will ______.” And then choosing carefully to accomplish it, it raises the “I CAN do this.” Because IF I can accomplish this one thing, I can move on to the next. Sort of like the snowball effect for paying off debt.

So if your season has you struggling. And you cannot read one more blog post on choosing joy which therefore insinuates you will be overcome with happiness, here is mine to say:

Life can hurt. Life can drag you through the mid, across coals of fire, and into a deep freeze. Sometimes all at once. You can choose to praise. You can choose to trust. You can make a whole host of “right” choices but it won’t necessarily take away the pain. It won’t give you instant happiness. It’s ok to rest in these seasons of exhaustion and overwhelming feelings. It’s not just okay, in my opinion, I believe it to be necessary.




Peace Seeker: Callan Turns 4

Today my baby turns 4.

He has a love of life that makes me love life on the bad days.

He loves his Bo, this one loves animals. Especially dogs. And wouldn’t mind if we had a whole bunch. 😉

He loves to “constroy” (his own word for destroy) and wreck things, and play with his brother. They fight like cats and dogs, but at the end of the day, they are best buddies. (Usually)

He loves candy and time with his family. He loves to play in water or with water. He wants to be a farmer like his Grandpa when he grows up. He wants to drive tractors and mix feed, drive skidloaders and cut down trees with chainsaws. That’s what he wanted for Christmas, his own chainsaw. He is a boy with a stubborn streak, a willful attitude. Daddy is his best friend, but he loves his mama too.

I remember the pregnancy with him, the labor. An emotional mess was a good description for me, he was a rainbow pregnancy. A pregnancy after two miscarriages. There is almost a 4 year gap between him and Alex and Alex was so mad when he knew he was having a brother.

Within hours of being born he was using his neck, making noises. And I just knew he was a different personality from his brother. And I wasn’t wrong.

He is really a no limit child, busy and does not need near the sleep any of the rest of us do. Which makes weekends hard for me. He crawled early, walked and ran early, there was just no stopping him once he was determined to do something. He loves coffee, and candy, and can eat more than his big brother sometimes.

But during the last year of losing Liam and being in indescribable pain, in more ways than one, he was my little best friend. Snuggled into me with his blanket, this non stop moving little boy would stay with me all day.

Today with joy, we celebrate this little man who sparks joy in our home. His big imagination and personality will take him many places, and hopefully in a good way.

Here’s to the coolest 4 year old in town, Callan.

Love you, big boy 💕

– your family


Peace Seeker: Christian Bullies

What an oxymoron, “Christian bully”.

But a majority of us can immediately nod our head and agree we have one of these (or multiple) in our lives.

I recently engaged in a discussion about car seats. A very, VERY hot topic. The question was whether to say something or let it go. A number of responses were positive, my opinion of “let other moms mom” received some pretty harsh judgement.

And it hurt. I won’t lie, it really hurt.

Here’s the things. I really don’t care where you stand on vaccines or car seats, potty training, organic or McDonald’s. I don’t. Do you care about your child’s well being? Do you love your child more than you live yourself ? Do you do your very best to raise them well, do the best job you can to care for their hearts and souls ?

I vaccinated my sons. My sons were forward facing at 1. I give them high quality vitamin/probiotic. I take them to the doctor. I punish them. I love them. I cherish them.

Let moms mom. Unless someone is checked out and not caring for their kids, drinking or using drugs, neglecting etc, don’t tell ’em they’re wrong.

You feel passionately about something? Chances are, they already know. And if they wanted your expert advice, they would have asked. Especially if you’re really good friends. If you aren’t, your advice is still unsolicited. Find a casual way to bring it up and share it. But don’t be mad if they still choose differently.

We aren’t made from cookie cutter molds. We are individuals, made beautifully in the very image of the God we are serving.

I cannot for the life of me imagine Jesus condoning the mom bullying I see happening.

There are other situations. Whether moms should work or not, lifestyle, clothes we should or should not wear …

I was raised by a good family. But I faced so much judgement. I went to a conservative school. I remember my covering style being judged. My dress material pattern, the pattern of my dress. There are literal disagreements over things THIS TRIVIAL. But to the opinionated ones, this is not trivial.

But you and I? We chuckle. This is crazy! We may say. I’m glad this isn’t our reality!

Okay. So stop making waves in your reality.

Here is an unpopular opinion:

You can do everything right and something “bad” can still happen.

God is in control, not us.

There’s something that makes me quake a bit. I’m a control freak, I need to be in control. But I’m not. I can’t. Because the guilt is crushing and heavy.

It is not my fault that Liam died. It is not my fault any of our other babies died. I cannot carry the weight of the guilt when I did blame myself. It drove me to a dark and soul crushing place.

There are times we are responsible. The words we say, they can cut deep. Those scars will remain forever.

When the painful stuff happens, I’m grateful. I’m so very grateful for the ones I can lean on and trust. I’m grateful for the Savior who meets me in the darkness and carries me out. The One who never leaves me, never forsakes me. The One who sees everything I do and loves me.

On this Good Friday, the day we are to pause and remember. Remember the price paid for our salvation, the painful and humiliating price He paid so we can call ourselves little Christs .. I wonder what He would say on these online mom groups, the ones where we use His name to defend being unkind or rude.

This Savior who felt nails in His hands. His feet. This Savior who wore a crown of thorns. This Jesus who died not because of a lie or a betrayal. He died for Truth. The Truth that He is the Savior. The only one we truly need. In good times. In bad times. May we strive to be like Him: loving without judgement. In real life. Online.

May we grow in this area. May the term Christian bully die with our repentance.

With much love,



Peace Seeker: On One Hand …

Is it just me, or are the latest and greatest TV series shows all showing stillbirth or miscarriage a lot more lately? Maybe my pain is still fresh and raw, maybe I’m being overly sensitive, but I keep noticing it. And honestly I don’t like it.

But who would?

And should we stay silent?

Is there ever a time where it’s okay to talk about this stuff? And should that time be in a TV series where the truth of the matter isn’t actually shown?

I was told recently I seem like I’m hurting.

Hi. I am. Thanks.

I won’t deny it, I can’t.

Fact is, this pain that you feel after anticipating and preparing for a birth, then being given a fatal diagnosis, it never goes away.

I’ve seen miscarriage and infant loss portrayed in several popular TV series lately. (And by lately, I mean the last year and a half or so) While this is a subject that needs awareness and attention, I think it’s real stories that we should hear, not romanticized versions or less than real versions, on TV.

What Hollywood and movie makers/creators can’t convey is the absolute emptiness and awfulness you feel. Not just when the diagnosis is given, but a feeling you will forever fight. Whether you’re a mom to others or not, it won’t necessarily matter. You will fight to get out of bed, you will fall into a routine, one that allows you to do what you must but with little heart.

They also cannot convey the fear that will fill you, you will consider pulling your son from school and holding him all day. You will need the snuggles and hugs of your three year old all day, every day. You will be overcome with the fear of losing everything/everyone you love.

You will overcome that fear. You will realize that life is completely out of your control but you might dig your nails in a little harder, fight harder for control in some areas.

Life will fall into a strange routine after you bury that stillborn baby. Some will visit the grave often, some won’t. Each woman has her own story, each woman’s grief is her own. But that strange routine maybe will leave you with a desperate need, a desire for MORE. The hole left by your loss cannot be filled, but you find ways to dull the pain. A new hobby, a new job, something.

Friendships change. Marriages face a massive struggle, one not faced before. Wives are told to understand their husband needs space and time. But husbands, your wife needs YOU. Don’t isolate and pull away from her! She feels like she is being punished. That’s how you lose her.

People will be well- meaning, they’ll try. Well, some will.

Some will judge you, shake their heads and say “she lost a son and now look at her, purple hair? She’s crazy.”

Shrug it off, they won’t understand.

See, when you see that box placed in the ground by your brothers, when you stay strong all day and collapse in the shower at night. When you try and try and pray and pray and yet all seems quiet and you feel lost and forgotten, you realize something incredibly freeing.

Things. Hair. People. Life. It’s all fleeting.

Hair- it changes. Easy peasy.

People- the real ones stay. And honestly, if you’re living your life for people and pleasing them, you’re doing life wrong. Come over, I have chocolate, let’s chat.

Things- things and stuff don’t make you happy. Believe me, I have a credit card bill I’m still paying because I tried to shop away from grief. It was a fail and now I’m just mad.

Life- we are not promised tomorrow. We never were. We are not told that it gets easy. It doesn’t. In fact, I’m kinda thinking it gets harder sometimes. And yea, I’m not loving that prospect either. I’m not suicidal, I’m not taking chances that unnecessarily risk my life. But here’s the thing:

Take the chances. Do the things (within reason).

Movies and TV show that part, but not all the hard stuff in between. No one can prepare you for the pain, the constant ache of missing a member of your family. Maybe someday my ache will lessen, but there will never be a day I don’t remember Liam. (Barring brain injury/disease)

What books, TV, no one can prepare you for is the instant gut reaction of pain when you read a post where someone got not good news at an ultrasound.

I want the world to know. I want people to be kinder, more understanding, BETTER towards the ones in this pain.

My family, when complete someday, will be a big family. Just some await me in another place, a better place.

Those who’ve walked this road, know the pain. They each have their own story, struggle, aha moments. We want to share these things. Can we?

This week, Liam would have been one. I picture a happy baby, and for whatever unknown reason I always picture a dark haired boy, despite the fact that my other two are blonde and blue eyed.

Anyway. That’s my thoughts lately.

For Liam,


P.S. the things described above are pretty personal, to me. My walk is not everyone’s.


Peace Seeker: Leaving the Culture

“You were Mennonite? Really? Why’d you leave?”

From someone else, “I never knew you left, that you would leave even.”

So I’ve made no secret of the fact I used to be much more conservative. In fact, some may say I even err on sounding like I’m mocking it. I’m not. Explaining the rules, the regs, the guilt.. it’s difficult and somewhat awkward. Part of me is still terrified of former ministry, especially when I remember how their opinions of me (or other sinners) were so clearly written on their faces.

So why did I leave? I was asked recently. I shrugged, I never fit. But if I’m honest, there’s a whole story to my leaving. And it starts with a boy .. don’t all the good stories start there?

(P.S. to the “boy” : you might be offended by what you read. I’m actually incredibly grateful. Please know that.)

It was an October day, I was almost 19 and I felt like life was going amazing. I had a dream boyfriend, a job I was in love with.. Didn’t have my dream car, but seeing/hearing wedding bells, I was happy to drive his car. He called, wanting to come see me. I didn’t mind. I was proud to show him off. My house was full of out of state relatives in town for a wedding.

“I don’t love you anymore,” he looked really uncomfortable. His words took the wind right out of my sails. I questioned this statement, we had JUST talked the night before and he had said he loved me then! What happened ?! He shrugged. He didn’t seem to know, just wanted to break up.

Brick by brick, steel bar by steel steel bar, a wall arose. I looked at him. “You’ll be dating within 6 months.” Pieces clicked. The rumors of the [many] girls before me, the glint in his eye when he talked about how town girls flirted. We had just made confession a few weeks before for “an immoral relationship” in church. And I had been putting my foot down lately, not wanting to be the girl who had to get married. Married yes, but not because of a growing baby in my belly. I was angry. I had trusted him, told him my secrets.

He assured me that he indeed would not be dating in such a short time period. I did the math, assured him he’d indeed be dating / in love by at least March or April. As he drove away, I ran inside. Humiliated, broken hearted, angry.

I called my friends. Busy. The big church youth group didn’t seem like an option. So I called the one girl he had forbade me to be friends with. She called another friend. The three of us made plans for the evening.

Now. I’m not completely proud of this next part. But it’s the truth.

We went to see a movie. We stopped somewhere and MJ and I ditched our Mennonite garb and coverings for jeans. After the movie, we decided alcohol was a grand idea. Well technically they did, but hey, I wasn’t in a decision making mood. And let’s just say me + Smirnoff + empty stomach = well, not a fantastic combo. At all. I stayed overnight at MJ’s, unable to even see straight, driving home was not even an option. We went to church the next morning, miserable. Well I was. She thought it was hilarious.

The moment he broke up with me, my friends seemed gone. I attempted to reconnect, but it seemed strange. Some were couples. I just felt very isolated, very alone. I spent weekends working or with the other two. Then a rape happened. And my drinking increased, by alot. Fearful of being pregnant, being rejected by not just the love of my life, but also church, I spiraled downhill at a high rate of speed.

Leaving was a choice, but also it wasn’t. I don’t regret aspects of this part of my life. Because of how everything happened, I just sort of disappeared from the local young people’s radar. I connected with a group of Horning kids (more conservative mennonite, but far less judgemental) I began attending a church in Lancaster County, (a bit more liberal). There was occasional glimpses, chance meetings, but since this was before Facebook, there was really no way for these people to keep track of my life. That’s the part I loved. It actually helped.

It still took me a long time to get over him. Looking back, he really destroyed me in a lot of ways. But if he hadn’t, well, I’d still have a lot to learn. So I am somewhat thankful.

Once I met Lamar, his friends became mine. Even less connections to my life. And I liked it that way. And after we got married, the church we attended split. And we got lost in the shuffle. I was pregnant, newly married, and we felt like we didn’t belong. And we just stopped attending church.

We made a few attempts, but really couldn’t click with anyone.

We moved 3 times in 3 years of marriage. And the last move was that, the last time. And somewhere in the shuffle of a church split and marriage and figuring out me and where I belong, I stopped wearing my covering. I still wear skirts, so I didn’t have a lot to get rid of. (I left all my dresses at home when I got married!)

It was awkward. I’ve been asked many times why I stopped wearing my covering. We’ve had it said that we are going to hell based on the fact that I wear pants. (Lamar too, because he “allows” me to wear them)

Leaving this culture isn’t always this easy. Many times it starts because if you mess up in one way, there’s the mennonite form of shunning. You aren’t actually shunned, just harshly judged. In my case, because a public confession had been made about our immorality, I was damaged goods. I was marked and therefore not an appropriate future wife for anyone.

Not that I minded, after the initial breakup and heartbreak, I never planned to marry.

It’s strange, the permanent mark this culture leaves with you. I still tend to duck my head, avoid admitting my last name, in the presence of any other Mennonites.

This is probably the biggest thing I discovered. Aside from grace. There’s this entire person that I actually am! And fyi: this girl isn’t any kind of subtle. If you haven’t gathered this by my purple hair, my big personality, my desire to serve and love and simply care deeply for the folks in my life, then get on board. It’s the one thing I proudly proclaim: I’m actually an awesome person. I really am. Usually. If I’m doing something, I’m ALL IN. (EXCEPT SOCK FOLDING. I do this only because I must.)

All in. Or I’m not in it at all. Oh. And purple hair. This is me

And this me doesn’t live in fear of her preachers, she is embracing the grace and freedom freely offered and living her life.

– Rachelle


Peace Seeker: the Moment

I guess if I’m being honest, I kinda knew. I just did. There was no forewarning inside my head to steel myself. There was a knowing when she entered the room, I just knew. But like a turtle I pulled into my shell. Foolishly, I didn’t take the time to inwardly strengthen myself. Instead, I argued with myself.

You would know. Someone would have told you. Right?? I mean, they all know how hard this year has been, surely no one would allow you to be blindsided with this.

I looked again.

I looked away.

I tuned into the subject at hand. The “chatline” had recently had a good story. A preacher got swindled out of thousands of dollars.

The snow was still coming down outside, other subjects were discussed. I checked the score of the ongoing football game. And eventually mealtime came, then cleanup. And cleanup means ladies in the kitchen, men still discussing manly things, in another room. My mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and I chatted easily.

I hope someday to forget this specific moment. The moment I asked her about her upcoming work. The moment she casually mentioned how her morning sickness has really, REALLY caused her problems. The ball of lead in my stomach returned with a vengeance, my lungs forgot how to breathe. The wet dish towel in my hand became intertwined through my fingers.

“Morning sickness?” I stupidly ask, looking toward my mother-in-law, wishing this conversation away.

“Well, yes. I’m pregnant.” My face probably gave me away. It’s never my eyes that are windows to my soul, no, it’s my entire face. A billboard advertising my feelings and emotions. “You didn’t know?” She shrugged. “I’m due in July.”

On December 20th, it was a year since we had Liam, I wrote a long post about it. I started 3 blogs. I wrestled between anger and sadness. I am jaded and hurting, constantly asking why I had to say goodbye, yet others take the lives of their unborn (or born) out of selfish and cruel motives.

I fought and cried, wishing there would be a massive snowstorm that would prevent this trip to Wisconsin. (But magically disappear the moment Lamar relented and cancelled the trip of course.)

I had read a blog last week. How the author learned she didn’t need to say things like “I miss my child, but – ”

No. Instead she learned to replace the word but with the word and. So I tried my own experiment. Well not an experiment, just decided to do this:

Liam was my son also. So just as I talked about Alex and Callan, and heard stories of their children, I too mentioned Liam. I mentioned going to see his grave, and missing him. I talked about labor and the difficulty of losing a baby.

I still needed to endure 5 more days after Monday. I confided to a few friends the difficulty this news was. I excused myself a time or two, needing to just regroup and find my poker face. (I don’t actually know if I have one, but I tell myself I do.)

It was a good week. It was a hard week. I learned a few more Dutch words. I ate far too much food. I got mad and begged to leave early. I read a lot, 2 big books and 1 medium one. Plus a couple Young Companion publications. I didn’t sleep much, did not drink enough coffee, took my Plexus, sold some Plexus… it was a full week.

At some point, I looked around the circle of Martin wives. (One was missing) There will be more Martin babies. 3 brothers are still single. Two wives are currently pregnant, and planned (or unplanned) pregnancies are rarely discussed, especially with the mother-in-law present. (Haha) I realize this will happen again, more babies. And none from us. I remembered fondly the baby days of my boys, and I wish to turn back the clock. Even the constant outfit destroying messes from the one, the team-no-sleep-needed from the other. The formula, the diapers, the laundry, all of it. I would do it again.

This first was painful. This surprise, casual bombshell was heartless and rude. But it will probably happen again. And my reaction will be nothing short of

Congratulations! served with a smile.

– Rachelle


Peace Seeker: Habits

Her hands deftly did what she must have spent hours doing. At first glance, the motion doesn’t make sense. Up and down, up and down.

“She’s sewing,” was whispered to me.

A lightbulb dawned. I nodded. The motions made sense.

“OH!” She begins to cry, distressed at the mistake she has made. A mistake only she can “see”, a mistake only she can cry and distress over.

And this sums up my days.

A repetitive motion, or motions rather. Crying in distress are mistakes and failures, but also heartache. Things I see, feel.

There are mistakes that are not so hidden, mistakes with my boys or that sarcastic remark that didn’t need to be made.

This post will seem like a cry for pity, it isn’t. This is possibly the last post I will make for awhile.

I keep remembering the lady, her hands. Those motions. And my heart breaks.

We make habits, right ? Is habit even the right word here? We have things, a routine that we do every day.

Wake up. Brush your teeth. Get Alex’s breakfast. Check the woodstove. Make the coffee / Heat up a mug of coffee. Pack Alex’s lunch. Spend time talking to Alex. Invest. Remember my to do list for the day. Walk outside. Wait for the bus. Come inside. Check the woodstove again. Reheat coffee / pour another mug full. Get started on the day.

With working now, I have a bit more variety. But still routine. Things I do in autopilot, with barely a second thought.

Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. Her hands, those aged and beautiful hands doing on autopilot what she did a lot, sewing and mending, creating and fixing. A peaceful smile lights up her face when you praise the work that only she can “see”, she nods and in those moments she must feel honored to be praised for what she does.

I read this quote on the page An Unexpected Family Outing and it resonated.

There lies my struggle.

I am grieving not only the loss of a son then another baby. I am grieving the expectations, the normal pregnancy that was denied me. I am grieving a hole in my family of boys.

I am parenting a son who quickly calls himself “stupid” when we draw his attention to a mistake. I am parenting a son who doesn’t understand why God answers a prayer for his toe, but said “no” to healing his baby brother.

Our routine of “normal” was shattered. And we are left, picking up pieces, replacing old routines with a new one.

Our marriage. Our friendships.

Nothing is the same. Nothing is normal.

Yet it is.

This post has been hard. Because its difficult to put into words what I personally am feeling.

I feel like I’ve been left, picking up pieces and attempting to keep normal for my boys. I’m withdrawing and making my already small circle, a bit smaller. I’m open and honest, yet lonelier and hard to be friends with. I’m withdrawing officially from many of my responsibilities, feeling officially like a hypocrite.