Sunday, December 16, 2012

15th Visit

Tuesday, after our church's preschool Happy Birthday Jesus party, Gabe and I headed out to the Houston's Children Museum for one last visit. 
We had so much fun!  We must have considering we were there for nearly 6 hours!  There were an oddly low number of visitors there so we fully took advantage of our last visit. 
Gabe played until I was too tired to chase after him anymore and we headed out 20 minutes before they closed. 
Life size cows, ball-coasters, slides, ball pits, race tracks, bubble towers, blocks, antique peddle cars, archway building, wave makers, the kid lift, science station.... the short list of all the wonderful things we explored Tuesday afternoon. 


When we finally made it home after being stuck in the legendary Houston rush hour(s) traffic and a quick stop at Kroger, I counted up the number of times we visited The Children's Museum of Houston.  15 times!  That was the best $75 we've spent on educational play ever!  Boy are we going to miss this place!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thankful Thursday

We love our Houston church. I am so grateful that we were able to find a home church during our time here.  A church, one that preaches truth, encourages even it's youngest attenders to follow Jesus and serve others is not always the easiest thing to find.  It'll be much harder leaving our little church here then I had anticipated. 
One of my favorite parts of our church is that the size is just right for Gabe.  Some Sunday's there's only one other child in his class and other mornings there's 4 or 5.  Gabe does great in such a small class setting.  Rather than crying when we drop him off, he would practically leap out of our arms and run into the room. 
Mostly though, I love the lessons he comes home with; basic concepts of Jesus' love that he's learning at such a young and impressionable age.  Like right now, he thinks that Christmas is about Jesus' birthday.  He doesn't really get the whole present thing yet and he loves the lights and Christmas trees but for him, right now, Christmas is about Jesus.  And part of the reason he knows that is thanks to his awesome Sunday school teachers. 
Along with great Sunday school lessons, there is also a monthly preschool program.  This month was a birthday party for Jesus.  Gabe loved it!  He had snacks, wore a birthday crown, sang Christmas songs and was able to play with his friends one last time. 
Hearing sweet little voices singing along (or trying to sing along) to Happy Birthday Jesus was one of the most precious songs my ears had ever heard. 
The preschoolers!  There were a couple little babies partying too!

Gabe called his friend Sarah "pretty Santa girl"  He sure makes my heart smile. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Grace and the Hard Stuff

This past week has been one of the most emotionally difficult week I've had in all my 30 years.  I'm not sure why, but I just didn't expect it to be this insanely difficult. Like an anonymous blog comment pointed out, we had never met or held little A so why is this so hard?  It's so hard because in those 6 days we thought he was ours, our hearts had already begun to dream and plan for him.  Just like a newly pregnant mother muses about the child growing in her belly, I was dreaming about the child growing in our hearts.

But amongst the heartache there has been also been a lot of truth spoken.  I have been so encouraged by the family and friends who are praying with us, sending thinking of you texts and when they've come across a scripture verse they've found to be encouraging forwarding that as well. 

Now let's be honest, I truly appreciate the prayers and the text messages and phone calls seem to always come just when I need them most; just when the grief or pain becomes to strong to bear alone.  But as for the scripture, well, I tend to ignore those messages until my mind is a little clearer and I want to read them.  I'm sure I should read them immediately after receiving them but I just can't seem to bring myself to read them.  I know they will bring me comfort but at times, I don't want the comfort.  I don't want to be reminded that God is in control or this is all part of His plan.  Because when your pain is intense and your grief runs deep, the platitudes and hopeful scriptures seem trite.

So I let myself rage just a little bit longer until the intense pain peeks and then wanes.  It is at that time that I feel like I'm able to read a scripture verse or two; to find hope in the one who gives all hope.

Right now though, I keep repeating this verse and clinging to the part where the Lord said "My grace is sufficient for you" 
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 
But he said to me,
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
2 Corinthians 12:8-9
The past few days people have told me that we're handling this situation with so much grace.  I'm not seeing it.  Maybe because I'm looking at everything from the other side of the mirror.  I feel the hurt, I'm listening to my inner voice dissecting every thought I have and I am not feeling full of grace. 
But grace is a funny thing.  God gives it freely to us but it's a concept so foreign to human nature that it's hard to accept.  I try so hard to give grace to those around me, especially to Gabe.  I want Gabe to grow up to be a well mannered and sweet boy who loves God but I don't want him to think he needs to be perfect.  And that's where grace comes in... if we can teach Gabe about grace at a young age, maybe, just maybe Gabe will be able to accept God's unconditional grace when he's older. 
So we're trying to teach Gabe grace and we try to show grace to others around us, but this accepting grace for myself, well right now, with losing our referral and life continuing to move forward.. it's hard.  Really hard.  I know God is being graceful towards us, just the fact that I get out of bed each morning after getting little sleep and praying for peace throughout the night, shows just how plentiful his grace is towards me. 
But I'm struggling with showing grace to myself.  If I'm sad, I get upset with myself that I just can't be happy that Little A has a forever family.  When I can't sleep, I berate myself for being too emotional.  Texts go unanswered, phone calls ignored because it takes too much energy to act normal and then I get mad at myself that I can't just get over this. 

So it's like I said, this grace thing is tricky as is losing a referral.  And right now, I just don't feel like I have a lot of grace left to give and especially none to give myself.  Which is why 2 Corinthians 12:8 is so important.  While my grace is waning, His grace is more than enough.  For me, for you.  And it's from His grace that I'm going to dip into and let myself grieve without feeling guilty, cry freely for my pain but rejoice equally for little A's new family.
This part of adoption, of life is hard.  But somehow, with the amazing love and support we've received... I can see a little bit of the beauty hiding behind the hard stuff.  
And the fact that I can still see that beauty hidden there is a forceful reminder that God is good.  And he is good. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Because God is good, the sun came up this morning and he's just oh-so cute. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bitter & Sweet

Every aspect of adoption is bittersweet.  Last Thursday we had a taste of the sweet side.  Tuesday the bitter part pulled the rug out from under our feet.  And today?  The bitter sweetness collided. 

I received a message minutes before leaving for the airport to come back to Houston.  I can't even begin to explain how I felt while I was reading it; feelings from joy to desperation to betrayal to confusion back to joy.  Emotional roller coaster.

I'll explain.

Yesterday, another family was referred our little A.  I can't even begin to understand how this all happened.  Things happened and events transpired that I thought were impossible.  I am beyond thrilled that little A will no longer be an orphan but behind that feeling are many others. 


Of course, with those feelings comes questions...Why didn't his adoption work out with us...How many losses does someone have to go through....What in the world am I possibly supposed to learn through this.... Where do we go from here...How do we go back to waiting after seeing his face...

The hard stuff, the bitter side would be overwhelming if it weren't for the sweet part of little A's story. 

His family; oh how they love him.  They've loved him for so long and now their prayers for their child, their son is are coming to fruition. And that is the sweet side that redemption through adoption can bring. 

And we know their family.  I love little A's mom.  She is a sweet, honest breath of fresh air.  She's exactly like I want to be when I grow-up (and no she's not older than me, just wise and Christ-like).  Little A will be loved, cherished and given everything he's missed out thus far in his little life.  He will be encouraged to be all that he can be and raised in the truth.

What more could we ask for? 

Bittersweet.  Adoption will always be a little bit of both.  And today I can taste them both.  I'm delighting in the sweet flavor but still choking back the bitterness of it all.

Once again, I ask you to continue to pray for little A; that he gets home to his family.  And for little A's family as they work their way halfway around the world to meet their little boy. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012


I read this early this morning, like 2:15 early:

"When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow." — Shauna Niequist

Really struggling with that whole thank you part... and sure hoping I'll grow.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hard stuff

"And we know that God works for those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose"  -Romans 8:28
Even when we can't see the reason, can't see beyond our own heartache and grief, we know that somehow God will work this out for the good.
Right now though, I'm clouded by pain; desperate to make sense of the madness the last few days have brought.  But right now I'm just clinging to my faith...
because I can not see the good in this past the hurt in my heart.
I can't close my eyes and not see the sweet face of little A dancing behind my eyelids.
For reasons far beyond our scope of understanding things came up in regards to little A's files.  Things AGCI didn't know and didn't know to tell use. More news cropped up in Adis today that led AGCI to make the painful decision to not be able to place little A.
We've lost our referral to little A.
Little A was only ours for a few days but he was ours.
He was loved.
He was cherrished.
His family found him.
And now we've lost him.
This is hard.  Much harder than I could have ever imagined.  Again, this is something we never imagined would happen. 
Before getting off the phone with our caseworker she asked how I was feeling.  I told her I didn't know.  Sad, angry, confused, hurt, unbelieving.... I'm sure those feelings will come, mostly now though, I just feel numb.  Like my brain has processed too much over the past few days and is using this numbness to protect itself for a little bit longer. 
Our caseworker asked if I was okay. 
Again, I told her I didn't know but then I told her these two things, two things I've repeated to myself at least 1000 times this afternoon:
God is good and the sun will come up tomorrow. 
So tonight as I lay in bed and tomorrow as we continue to process this I will continue to repeat the two things I know with complete certainty.
God is good.
The sun will come up tomorrow.
We truly appreciate your prayers during this time.  Prayers for us and prayers for little A - that the family God has planned for him finds him and finds him quickly. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Today may go down as the best Thankful Thursday ever. 

There are no unwanted children, just unfound families.
-The National Adoption Center
And somehow, by the grace that can only be given by an unfailingly gracious God, another little one has found their way into our family. 
Stunned?  We certainly were.  There's a little bit of a backstory but I'll get to that later.  Little A is almost 16 months old with beautiful brown eyes, gorgeous lashes and one of the sweetest faces you'll ever see. 
We are so thankful, so blessed and jus astounded by God's overwhelming goodness.  
More to come about Little A and how he found us but for now, I think I'll go back to looking at pictures of our sweet darling boy. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What to Give Wednesday (Part 7)

Want a meaningful gift for the hardest-to-shop-for person in your life? 

A gift that continues to give well after Christmas is over, a gift that builds relationships, gives hope and shares the gift that Jesus' birth gives us all?  

Sounds good, doesn't it? 

And it's easy.  Now in my opinion, that is the best combination!

World Vision:

We sponsor through World Vision.  Last year, I gifted Matt with a sponsorship of a little boy named James in honor of his dad.  Matt definitely qualifies as the hard-to-shop-for person because he wants nothing!   So a child sponsorship was a way to fulfill my desire to give him a gift while not gifting him something he wouldn't want.  Through out the year we've written to James, received a picture, a note from him and a progress report from school. 

For $35 a month, not only do you have the opportunity to build a relationship with a child, you also ensure this child has access to clean water, nutritious food medical care, education and spiritual development. 

Compassion International

Compassion International is an organization much like World Vision.  I know a lot of people who sponsor through Compassion and love it!  For $38 a month you're providing a child with everything they need to grow, develop and learn as well as letting them know someone cares for them. 

Children International
For $25 a month your sponsorship will provide a child with emergency food (as needed), medical and dental car, educational support, family assistance, clothes, shoes and more.  Like World Vision and Compassion International this organization does so much more than child sponsorship.  Children International works to improve living conditions of children and families who live in poverty through clean water initiatives, income and work generating problems, etc.

Hope for the Hopeless

A sponsorship through Hope for the Hopeless provides a child in Ethiopia with food, clothing, education, medical care and other basic necessities to life.  Your sponsorship also helps to support the family and community your sponsored child lives in.  For $30 a month, about $1 a day, you can change the life of a child forever. 

What do you think?  Have someone who is impossible to buy for but would appreciate a gift that matters, a gift that gives rather than accumulates in their closet?  I'm thinking that one of these sponsorships would be a great gift for them!

Thursday, November 22, 2012


  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. - Colossians 3:15-17
From our family,
to yours we want to wish you a very
thank-filled Thanksgiving)
(and evidently I've reached my photo limit here on blogspot so no pictures until I figure out what to do - what a 1st world problem to have)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Notre Dame

Going to Paris was an experience of a life time. 
Seeing the sites and experiencing the culture
riding the metro,
walking through the city,
eating eclaires and palmiers from every corner bakery we stumbled upon.
Like I said... experience of a lifetime.
Our first full day there we made a quick trip to the Eiffel Tower, saw the massive crowds and scooted down to the docks on the Sienne River to ride a boat to see the Notre Dame. 
Visiting Notre Dame and walking through the cathedral, examining the art and sculptures, marveling at the stain glass, lighting candles and seeing the flickering of others candles was amazing.  Truly surreal.  Walking into the cathedral, I felt bombarded with emotions.  The millions of prayers petitioned within those walls; the hope, faith and desperation amidst those prayers had an almost tangible presence.  The prayers I murmured as I walked along seemed more powerful as they reverberated around the other prayers being offered up.  It was an emotional, spiritual and pretty much indescribable visit.  
I took a slew of pictures and they do absolutely no justice to the splendor of the Notre Dame.  Here's a few:
West Front of the Notre Dame

North Rose Window - depicting the New Testamen
South Rose Window - depicting the Old Testament

West Rose Window

Interesting facts about the Notre Dame:
~The Notre Dame stands on the site of Paris' first Christian church.
~ It's the most popular monument in Paris, and all of France with an estimated 13 million visitors each year.
~ Notre Dame is still an active Catholic church, a place of pilgrimage for Catholics around the world and a focal point for religious events for all of France
~ Construction began in 1163 and was mostly completed by 1220 (it seems crazy to me how something so magnificent was made without the use of modern construction tools).

If I had to recommend one place to go in Paris (of the places we visited), with absolutely no reservation my answer would be here.  From the Gothic architecture to the historical significance(Napoleon, Joan of Arc, etc) to the religious and spiritual importance of the cathedral and all it entails, it truly is no wonder it is the most visited landmark in France. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Last Tuesday

Last Tuesday marked 14 months on the wait list as well as our USCIS fingerprinting update appointment. 

Our fingerprinting appointment was smooth, you know, after I realized the appointment was not at the same place as our initial appointment and we  needed to leave earlier than anticipated.  There are so many horror stories about USCIS fingerprinting in the adoption world and I am happy to say each of our appointments have been great. 

Hitting the 14 month mark on the wait list was just as uneventful as the fingerprinting appointment.  I didn't even realize that it was the 13th until I was getting ready for bed.  In hindsight that's probably a good thing; I find I become a little sullen and sad as I realize another month has gone by in our wait with very little movement forward.  Perhaps I should lose track of the date more often [Smile]. 

On the upside of all this waiting, one day it will end.  And just like the day I first held Gabriel; all the waiting, all the hard stuff and all the tears will melt away into the fierce love formed when a parents holds their child for the first time. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Gabe is obsessed, and I mean obsessed, with his cardboard brick blocks.  I would imagine on a normal day we spend a minimum of an hour playing and learning (counting, colors, shapes, cause and effect, etc) with them.   Building towers, knocking down towers and using the blocks as dominoes are our favorite activities.  A lot more fun was added when Gabe figured out he could use his pull and go truck to knock down the block towers and dominoes. 
I'm thinking the addition of the truck is going to bring a lot more block playing hours to our days.