The Ordinary Project | TAMMY RAKOW |

The Ordinary Project understands that regular people are the ones truly leaving their mark on this crazy world–marks of courage and hope, selflessness and sacrifice, love and faith.

And, while we will never be able to acknowledge every single unsung hero, my mission with The Ordinary Project is to do exactly as the name suggests: recognize and honor those ordinary people who are coloring the world a more beautiful place, simply because they believe it should be done, typically without any promise of reward or even acknowledgement.

I have a small list of ordinaries whose stories I hope to share, but I would be honored if you chose to send me the names and contact information of ordinary people in your own life that deserve to be known! You may do so by emailing

So, today (in honor of Mother’s Day), it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you: My mother–Tammy Rakow.

Isn’t she pretty? 🙂

I’ve been planning this for a while–I mean, who better to honor as an ordinary hero in time for Mother’s Day than my own hero?

This woman does it all and then some; she is the glue that holds our family together. If I can become half the mother she is, that will be enough because I don’t think I will ever be as amazing as she is.

Now, typically, The Ordinary Project is written in interview format, with the featured hero answering questions. However, even though I sent my mom the questions a while back, she’s been so busy being a superhero that I didn’t want to nag her about it! So, I will be taking the liberty of answering some questions about her 🙂 The ones in quotations are her own words!


Older than she looks 😉


Biological mother of 4; adoptive mother of 4; current foster mother of 1; previous foster mother of 3.  Formerly a beautician, Tammy now fills her time as a full-time mother/book keeper for her husband’s business/gourmet chef/chauffeur/maid/nurse/teacher/laundry attendant/problem-solver/appointment scheduler/a dozen more different odd jobs. 

What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?

“Seeing your kids grow and becoming responsible adults and every Sunday all of us together in church, challenging part is feeling like you are always failing and never doing all the right things or being patient and understanding! You read all these articles and blogs and say “Wow! I really stink at this !” Lol”

What led your family to do foster care/adopt? How has this impacted you personally?

“Jamie wanted at baby sister!?  I said I was too old, but Kleins (family friends) were doing foster care, and we thought might be neat to do. We always had an interest in missionary work and decided we didn’t have to travel clear around the world–there were people right here in need.

Some days are like, “God, what was I thinking?” And a lot of times I don’t realize how far the kids have come until I think back or someone mentions something and I see that they are growing and maturing and just need that love and nurturing. I think about next year, Jamie will be a senior, and we could be empty nesters and do what ever we wanted, but I really don’t think that’s what God wants us to do, and I couldn’t imagine my life that way.”

Adoption Day, November 19, 2011

What is your favorite quality about yourself? Why?

When I asked this question, Tammy said she doesn’t really have one. So I’ll share a few of my favorite qualities about her!

She’s the most selfless person I know. She’s sweet. Funny. Compassionate. Always on top of things. Always going above and beyond. She’s beautiful inside and out. There are so many things to love about her.

What is a quality you wish you had or wish you were better at? Why?

Okay, I don’t even have to ask her this one! I know she would say she wishes she were more patient–but, in my not so humble opinion, my mother is a saint and has more patience than the average person! How many people do you know who can handle 9 children–with 5 of them being under the age of 11?

How would you define an ordinary hero?

“When I think of an ordinary hero I think of a fireman or police officer, they risk their lives everyday for us.”

Would you consider yourself to be an ordinary hero? Why or why not?

“Do I consider my self an ordinary hero? No, I’m just doing the job God has called me to. I hope I am changing lives for the better, but anyone can do that if they take time to listen and love someone.”

What is your life motto?

“Live today like it’s your last, for we don’t know what tomorrow may bring.” After Andy died, it really woke me up to this realization that tomorrow is not promised.”

What is one thing that has happened in your life that has made you a stronger person?

Doubling the number of children in our family. In the fall of 2014, my oldest brother began his last year of college. The brother directly below me began his last year of high school. And our youngest biological sister started high school. My parents were almost done raising children. Yet, that same year, due to adoption, our true youngest sibling started kindergarten. My parents started almost completely over (and continue to do so, as our adopted siblings’ 4-year-old halfsister has been our foster child for nearly two months now).

If you could turn back time, would you? Why or why not?

“No, life’s a story and it a happens for a reason. Some things I would change if I could, but that would change who I am today.”

Who has impacted you the most and how?

“I would have to say my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without him, I am not capable of doing anything. People say to me, “you must be a special person to be able to handle so many children!” No, it’s only by the power of God that I can make it through most days. I want to truly love as Christ loves us.”

If you were able to leave a lasting impact or legacy with those who hear your story, what would you want it to be?

“That I made a difference in this world, that I opened my home and life to better others lives and show them God’s love. We don’t have to travel across the ocean or run a big company. We can be missionaries right here, right where we are. God can use each of us in a special way. We just need to step out of our comfort zone and see what blessings he has in store for us. I like to think I’m doing what he has called me to do and hope to pass that on to my children, to pour their lives into others.”

Isn’t she incredible? I mean, she handles all of this:


You are my hero. Because of your example, I have learned perseverance, patience, and dedication. Because of you, I know what compassion and selflessness are. Because of you, I have always felt heard, loved, and understood. Because of you, I have seen the love of Jesus.

Because of you, I am the person I am today.

Thank you for being my shoulder to cry on, my sounding board for ideas, my go-to source of knowledge, and the person I can always count on to think my lame jokes are funny 😉

And thanks for always knowing some good cat names 😉

(for those of you who don’t get that…when I was 2, I asked her a series of questions and she told me she didn’t know. My response? “You sure don’t know much…but you do know some good cat names!”)

Facebook tells me I look like you (sorry that you’re tagged in, like, *all* of my pictures since it only recognizes my face as yours…), but I pray someday I can be like you.

We love you! Thank you for everything.


Brookie Doodles

May we all be ordinary heroes, right where we are.



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