Thursday, May 31, 2012

May Numbers

Boys: 72 (down 3)
Girls: 96 (down 2)
Siblings: 36 (up 2)

Word on the street has it that there was only one referral this past month.  Can I tell you how much that stinks? Word on the street also has it that the other movement is from people leaving AGCI and adopting through other avenues.  Can I tell you how awesome that is; that children waiting else where are no longer waiting!
And may I tell you how frustrating it is to see your numbers go up?  Very, very frustrating.  Here's praying for some miraculous movement on the wait list.  As much as it stinks for us, the lovely family at number 1 on the girls list has been there 10 weeks.  That is just unbearable to think about considering the large number of orphans that need families. 

I read this passage this morning, seems to fit right for today. "Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience." James 1:3 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Have you ever had a profound moment in the oddest of places?  Friday at the zoo, I did. 
On this crazy ride called international adoption, one has good days and one has bad days.  On the good days, I am 100% sure that this is what God intends for us; to wait as long as necessary for our next little babe or two to come home from Ethiopia.  The complete opposite is true for the bad days; I wonder and question everything.  From finding a child on a waiting children's site to changing programs or agencies to quiting completely and fostering here in Texas. 

I'll be honest when I say that the good days surpass the bad days but those bad days, they are discouraging.  On Friday, while we were celebrating Gabriel's adoption day my heart couldn't help but long for the time when our next little one will be home.  It didn't help that on entering the zoo I saw a mother pulling a little red-haired boy in a wagon while a tiny dark skinned baby was strapped to her chest in a carrier.

We took a water and sun chip break at the cafe by the giraffe's. With the shade and cool breeze, we sat outside snacking and watching the giraffes enjoy a snack for themselves. As Gabe and I finished our snack, we left, again walking past the giraffes and the information board in front of their area. I am one of those people, that no matter how many times I go to the zoo I have to read the information boards. It's even better now because I can read the boards aloud to Gabe!

While reading about the giraffes and their dark blue/black tongues, it hit me. Like a door slamming in my face, it hit me.


Surely the God who cares enough about the giraffe to make his tongue dark in order to protect it from sunburn, cares about our adoption.  Surely He cares about how our hearts long to hold the one we see in our dreams.  Surely he cares about the millions of orphans that need a home and the families waiting to bring them home.  The Bible tells us exactly how much God cares for the orphans but sometimes my human tendencies cause me to forget.  And Friday, I was given a visual reminder of how much God cares; about me, about you, even about giraffes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Visiting the splash pad is back to being part of our almost-everyday routine.  While Gabe hasn't been as excited about it as he was last year, he is slowly warming up to it and enjoying sitting by the sprays getting splashed in the sun.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day

And I’m proud to be and American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
-Lee Greenwood
Thank you to all the men and women who served our country, some giving the ultimate sacrifice.  I am privildged to say that both of my grandfather's served our country.  Thank you to our family and friends and the strangers that are serving our country... defending our freedom, protecting our liberties.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


We spent Gabe's Adoption day at the Houston Zoo!  I am so grateful that Gabe loves the zoo as much as his Mama does.  We tried to beat the heat (well some of it!) and the afternoon traffic by arriving shortly after they opened and it worked.  We had a close parking space, lots of room to move around at exhibits and besides the eventual onslaught of school groups.

Much to my surprise and Gabe's delight, the traveling Dinosaur exhibit that I frequented at the Cleveland Zoo with my nephews has landed in Houston for the summer.  Gabe was in dino-heaven.  90 percent of the pictures I took had him looking up at the dinosaurs.

On a side note, one of the few shows Gabriel watches is Dinosaur Train.  It's a super cute PBS show about an adopted T-Rex (Buddy),his Teranadon family and their adventures as they explore the differences in the members of their family and travel to visit other dinosaurs on the dinosaur train.  I am a huge fan of how positive PBS provides children on the outlook of adoption and being different. 
So, the second Gabe saw the dinosaurs he alternated between yelling "dinosaur train" and "rawr".  It was so cute.  Unfortunately for him there was no train.  I don't think he was too disappointed as we spent nearly an hour walking back and forth through the exhibit to soak it all in.

Most of the pictures I took were of Gabe looking away from
the camera towards the dinosaurs.  He was enchanted!

This is Ornithomimus.  In the Dinosaur Train he is the conductor.
When I told Gabe what dinosaur it was, he immediately said "Mr. Conductor"
It was super cute and reminded me of what a little sponge Gabe is.

We ventured back out to the live animal portion of the zoo and walked through as many exhibits as we could before finding the elephants. Mister Gabe loves the elephants, especially the baby elephant.
After nearly 4 hours at the zoo we left and were able to meet up with Matt and some of his French and Brazilian coworkers that were in town at the outlet mall.  Gabe and I definitely scored when we saw there was a sidewalk sale and were able to add a few pieces to our summer wardrobes.  They were needed when you consider summer seems to go from March to November here in Houston!  Matt's coworkers scored big as well seeing such incredibly low prices compared to what they are used to at home. 
After shopping we took Matt's coworkers out for BBQ.  It was a little past Gabe's bedtime so rather than sitting at the table (and guaranteeing a meltdown from a tired toddler) we had a little picnic in the grass.  There was a band playing, the food was delicious, a slight breeze cooled us off... sitting with my little guy at The Goode Company was the perfect way to celebrate his Adoption Day, the day we legally became a family. 

Friday was absolutely perfect... the kind of day I could only dream of just 3 short years ago.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Adoption Day

Two years ago, we officially became a family.  In our hearts we were a family the second we laid eyes on Gabriel but legally, May 25 2010 was Gabriel's adoption day. 

Whether it be 2 years, 9 months and 4 days since Gabe came home from the hospital or 2 years since Adoption Day... we're celebrating today.  We're celebrating the love of a family, the marvelous way a new little life can enter your world and flip it right-side up and the miracle of adoption.
Happy Adoption Day, sweet boy... we love you more than you will ever know.

Adoption Day May 25, 2010

Love Gabe Smooches

Nonny, Papo and Gabe

Gabriel and Judge Walthers (fellow adoptive dad)

Our little family of 3... I can't hardly believe Gabe was ever that little.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Year Ago Today

For a brief moment as I walked to change Gabriel before we boarded our flight out of Akron I thought "I could just keep walking."  Walk past the bathroom, out of the airport  and leave for home... surely my dad would still be waiting, he couldn't possibly believe we would go through with this.  How could we possibly leave all of this; our family, our friends, our church, our support behind us?  It seemed inconceivable.  Keeping myself composed was utterly hopeless... watching an airport reunion of soldiers and their loved ones tore me apart as I was leaving mine behind (yes, my thoughts were that self-centered).  But instead of leaving, we boarded a plane and flew nearly 1200 miles Houston; a place that seemed unwelcoming and as foreign as a country half a world a way. 
“Moving on, is a simple thing, what it leaves behind is hard.” – Dave Mustaine

Slowly I learned it wasn't the moving part that was difficult, but everything we left behind that was so inconceivably hard.  Family, best friends, a community that we knew and had a place in, a church that we could serve and grow with, a neighborhood that felt like home... and all of these wonderful memories wrapped from Vermilion to Beachwood and every place in between. 

And the even harder part?  The things we left behind change... nephews grow up and grandparents grow older, some relationships fade away while others mature into something even better.  People change, places evolve. 

Everyone changed since we moved.  Including me.  I am no longer the girl that thought she wouldn't be able to do it; move away from all that she loved and learn to love something new.  I thought moving to Houston would break me and in many ways it did. 

In college, and many times after, I've heard the saying "God doesn't give you  any more than you can handle."  While struggling through infertility and navigating adoption, I thought that saying couldn't possibly be true.  Moving to Houston showed me it was a complete lie.  God does give you more than you can handle, because it's in those moments where you think you are at your limit and something else goes wrong (like finding out after moving to Houston that we would have to redo all of our adoption paperwork when we were initially told the opposite and our wait would be even longer) that you fall at the feet of God. You sit at his feet, soak in His word and bask in his presence.  

And He carries you.  You learn.  You grow.  And you change. 

I know I sound dramatic, but for me, moving so far from 'home' was the worst possible thing that could have happened.  But it wasn't.  And I did change.  My faith grew stronger, my love for my husband, while I didn't think it was possible, grew deeper and my confidence in myself grew.  I can navigate the crazy Houston traffic with an angry toddler in the backseat during rush hour with ease.  I now sleep soundly knowing I have done all that I can to ensure our safety when Matt's traveling with business.  20 minute layovers, appointments with new doctors, asking other mom's for phone numbers and play dates.... these are things I never thought I could do without help.  While I truly believe it takes a village to raise a child, I know now that I am a capable mother and wife. 

One year ago today we moved to Houston and at the time I could only see the bad things that were happening, the negative changes and all that we would be missing.  But over the past year, day after day, God has unveiled the good things about moving to Houston.  While some days I miss the people in Ohio so much I can hardly take a deep breath and my heart just aches, I know where I belong.  Where Matt is, where Gabe is and where God can do the most work in my life. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.  Romans 3:5-6

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The good, the beautiful and the too close for comfort.

Today we traveled a little ways down the road and headed to Brazos Bend State Park.

There was lots of good food to fill our bellies and good company to help the pass the time.  I ate more than my fair share of fruit salsa and Gabriel had two, yes two, hot dogs with his lunch. 

Beautiful is the only way to describe the scenery.  Brazos State Park is filled with areas to picnic, paths to travel on foot or bike and lots and lots of lake-river-swampy areas filled with gorgeous birds, slimy snakes, colorful flowers, bugs, turtles, fish and.... alligators! 

Walking down one of the trails towards 40 Acre Lake we stumbled upon a "friend" a little too close for comfort.  Sunbathing just off the trails edge was an alligator.  A 5-6 foot long alligator.  Eyes blinking.  Deep breathing.  Possibly ready to bit off your feet at any moment alligator.  While Matt stuck to the opposite side of the trail than the alligator (someone had to be responsible for Gabe), I crept a little bit closer to get a few better pictures.  That is until the alligator decided to move his arms (front legs?) and we decided it was time to continue down the path. 

Today was just a fabulous day exploring the beauty of nature and all the creatures God placed there in Brazos Bend.... and now I'm in the mood to watch Swamp People!! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

8 months waiting

Sunday marked 8 months waiting for a referral of our little one.  The wait is hard, yet necessary.
Biblically, waiting is not just something
we have to do until we get what we want.
Waiting is part of the process of becoming
what God wants us to be.
 - John Ortberg

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

El Salvador 2012

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
- Matthew 28:19-20

Two months from yesterday, I will be meeting up at IAH with a team from our home church in Ohio to go serve in El Salvador.  We will be serving in the city of La Libertad.  I am so excited, like beyond excited.  I have been wanting to go serve on a missions trip and am so grateful for this opportunity. 

Matt and my mom will be on Gabe duty while I'm gone.  It is such a blessing that my mom will come to Houston to watch Gabe while Matt works.  When I think about leaving Gabriel for a week my palms get sweaty and my heart starts to palpitate.  It makes me almost want to change my mind.  Almost.  But I know Gabe will be in great hands here and I am needed in El Salvador.  Although I can't speak Spanish and know little of the culture, the doors God has opened so I'd be able to go is a definite sign that it's my turn to serve.  The saying "God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called" certainly applies
I can't wait to see how God uses me and changes me on this trip.

“To belong to Jesus is to embrace the nations with Him.” - John Piper

Monday, May 14, 2012

Me & My Boy

I could not love him more.

And on Mother's Day as in every day, we are waiting for him... or her... or them...

This mama loves the little boy in her arms so much... but longs for the little one across the ocean more than ever imaginable. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

Until I was a mother,
I never truly understood
the miracle of life...
like how a hand could be so tiny
and how a cheek could feel so soft
to my kisses...
and how a little head
could smell so good
and feel so warm against my face.
Until I was a mother,
I never truly realized
that a tiny baby
could fill my heart with so much love.
-Lee Franklin
Happy Mother's Day to all my favorite Mama's out there.  And Happy Mother's Day to my most favorite mama, my Mom!!  And a big old thank you to Gabe for giving me a million and one reasons to celebrate Mother's Day. 
Nonnie and Gabe's 1st meeting.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tomorrow = 6 years

Six years ago tomorrow, I said I do. 
Little did I know that by saying "I do", I was also saying "I will".  I will love you more tomorrow than I did yesterday.  I will follow you anywhere.  I will laugh harder with you then anyone else.  I will never let you go this side of heaven.  I will use all the hot water.  I will leave cabinet doors open, drawers cracked and teabags in the bath tub... and you will let me get away with it!  I will not give up on you, us or our son. I will cry on your shoulder, kick you in bed and learn to love cooking; for you, our family, for anyone really.

Marriage has been more than I could have ever imagined; so much better!  What other way can you wake up with your best friend everyday... and spread your obsessive-compulsiveness of re - arranging someone else's clothes according to ROY G. BIV. 
Six years or 72 months or 2192 days (two leap years in there)
Time is funny though, sometimes I can't believe we've been married 6 years, together more than 8.  Other times I can't believe it has only been 6 years.  And that's a good thing!  But it seems like life before Matt belongs to someone else entirely. 
These past 6 years have been crazy; lots of good, some bad.  It's hard to believe this is only the beginning of the good stuff to come. 

Now for a few snapshots from May 13, 2006.

We were so young and in-love.  The good thing is we're still young, still in-love and still have a long way to go together! 

I'm certain if we got married today, this song would be a close second to our wedding song.