Saturday, November 30, 2013

.Hope Doesn't Float.

I remember the first time I saw the movie Hope Floats.  My dad had taken me and a friend to the neighborhood video store to rent movies and that was our choice for the evening.  I loved Sandra Bullock almost as much as Raj Koothrappali does and I was not going to miss a Sandy B movie.  
Every time it plays on television a little nostalgia always sneaks in.  

A few days ago I was channel surfing and glimpsed Birdie and Bernadette arguing on the steps and flipped back to watch.  But wasn't the nostalgia creeping in that slowed me down this time, it was the title of the movie.  Hope Floats hasn't changed in the 14 or so years since I first saws it, but for me, hope, well it isn't something that floats.  
When I think of floating I think of bubbles or balloons and the fact that after they float for a short time they pop.  Or sink.  You can't float forever. 

But hope.
Hope anchors.  
It secures. 

It's no secret that this past year has been hard.  If I'm being completely honest, it's probably been the hardest 12 months of my life.  I thought it was going to be amazing; we were moving back home from Texas and we were still anxiously waiting to see our little ones face.  Instead we've ridden an adoption journey we never imagined. 

A year ago yesterday Gabe and I were in Target, the cereal aisle looking for a bargain when my phone rang.  Our case worker called to say she received our paperwork but also wanted to talk about a waiting child.  Our little "A."  I hung up with her, frantically called Matt to come home and then we saw the face of our son.  A few days later that all fell apart.  We grieved.  I cried more tears than I'd ever cried.  Life, the rapidly approaching holiday season, everything felt a little empty. 

And then we moved back home.  
Home without a son waiting for us on the other side of the world.  
Home to friends and acquaintances who didn't know we lost the referral and would ask when our little boy would be coming home.  
My heart was in pieces.  
I thought home would be healing.  
It was but it wasn't.  
It's hard to grieve properly when life doesn't seem to ever slow down. 
But we did.  
Our hearts started to heal.
Life started to go on. 

As the healing was going on the hope was anchoring us down.  It wasn't floating, it wasn't even filling me up but it was anchoring me.  Anchoring me to truth.  To the truth.

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain where our forerunner, Jesus has entered on our behalf.  he has become a high priest forever. 
 Hebrews 6:19-20 (NIV)

I can't count the number of times I've repeated the first part "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."

Saying that, repeating what has become my mantra this year kept me grounded. 
Life continued to buzz by and God brought another surprise into our life; a sweet baby girl that we didn't even know we desperately wanted until we found about her.  We loved her from the start and that love stretched over 3 months while she grew in her mama's womb and 1 week while we waited in Atlanta believing surely we were adding a beloved daughter to our family.  
While she is beloved, she is not our daughter.
Part of our hearts will always be with her but she was not ours to keep. 
No words can describe having to give your baby back.  
The pain of watching our daughter disappear down the road is paralyzing. 
For me, it was like she died but rather than going to heaven with her Father she went to some place unknown.  And we'll always wonder about her and that unknown.
We grieved hard.  The grief is still here.  
We lost not only a daughter but the future we had planned for us;
family get together's, holidays and traditions all look different this year.
They are missing something.
How would we keep going, keep smiling, keep celebrating?

We do it because we have too.  You can't stop to grieve forever.
But we move on, we move forward because of our hope.

Shortly after coming home in July a fellow adoptive mom knowing how much I was clinging to Hebrews 6:19 sent me the Weymouth New Testament translation:
"The hope we have as an anchor of the soul; an anchor that can neither break nor drag"

Neither break nor drag. 
Read that again.  Say it aloud.
This hope, the hope that anchors my soul, can not break nor drag.

These have been the worst 12 months of my life.
Matt and I have endured quite a few losses in our almost 10 years together but this year broke me in ways I didn't imagine.

But it was hope (and a lot of chocolate, lets be honest) that got me through. 
Hope that the God that sent a wind and made the flood waters recede for Noah...
the God that fed the hungry, healed the sick and triumphed for the ...
the God that gave Hannah her son Samuel and Sarah her son Isaac will not forget us. 
The God that looks after the sparrows and the flowers, will continue to take care of us. 
He will not fail us.

It doesn't float. 
It anchors. 
It secures.
It's everlasting. 

"the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love"
Psalm 147:11

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Every day life.

Sneaking pictures of a little boy reading books. 

Building with Lego's at Barne's and Noble.  Please tell me I'm not the only parent who goes just to let her child play.  And drink coffee.

For some reason this just cracked me up.  A school bus getting gas at a tiny gas station.  I know buses need gas but it was just funny to see.  Matt didn't think it was funny.

Waiting for an appointment.  Gabe is such a patient boy.  And such a good patient.

Jake and the Neverland Pirates lego's;  perfect quiet time activity combined with OT practice.  And he doesn't even realize it!

Catching fire date night.  He just gets me. Blurry movie theater pictures only.

Gabe was really into decorating the ginger bread house this year.

A Thomas the Train puzzle from Gigi.

Routinely Gabe and Matt send each other silly photo's during the day.

In case you weren't aware Chick-fil-A has brought back their Peppermint Chocolate Chip milk shakes.  Surely these will be in heaven.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Little Victories

There's a song called Little Victories and if I had the ability or the time to figure out how I would put it in this video.  But I don't know how and don't have the time to learn!  The quality of this video isn't the greatest, there are even a few moments where Matt even puts his finger over the lens (again, zero video editing skills) but the actual video...  the footage captured for well, forever.  It is priceless.

Matt captured these moments at my parents house on October 20 when I was at home hosting a Noonday Collection party.  He sent me the video shortly before people started coming and it was all I could do mop up the tears and not shove the video in every ones face the minute they walked in the door.

Gabe playing soccer from Meredith LaGorga on Vimeo.

I am so proud of our boy.  Four months to the day of walking independently for the first time, he is kicking a soccer ball.  It may not seem like much to other people, but for us.. it was a victory. Spending a good part of the fall watching his oldest cousins play soccer was big inspiration for Gabe.  Even now, nearly a month later (I am behind!) I can't believe what I'm seeing. Well, I can believe it because Gabe shows off his soccer skills every day but emotion still catches in my throat every time I see it.

Nothing is going to hold him back.  With his steel like determination and his beautiful self confidence, he is undefinable by the limits of this world. The world, it is his oyster. And the proof, it's in the pudding video.

This time I'll be sailing
No more bailing boats for me.
I'll be out here on the sea
Just my confidence and me.
And I'll be awful sometimes
Weakened to my knees
But I'll learn to get by
On the little victories
This time I'll have no fear
I'll be standing strong and tall
I'll turn my back towards them all
And I'll be awful sometimes
Weakened to my knees
But I'll learn to get by
And I'll learn to get by 
On the little victories.
And if the world decides
To catch up with me
Still little victories
Little Victories by Matt Nathanson

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lifesong for Orphans: Gifts of Purpose

Every year giving gifts with purpose becomes more and more important.  Last year I featured different organizations and companies that featured products that empowered people, saved lives and gave back.  My friend Leigh has featured companies for your little ones, the men in your life and the women too (or yourself!) this year on her blog.  She has some awesome picks!

There are even more great picks to gift the people in your life from Lifesong for Orphans.  They're gifts have purpose and meaning.  Eradicating poverty, feeding the hungry and helping the sick... these gifts are less tangible but just as meaningful.  For the person who has everything or the person who wants nothing, these are perfect gifts.  

Gifts of Purpose Catalog

The Christmas season is just around the corner! As you make and exchange Christmas lists, we invite you to rethink Christmas.

To give a gift that doesn't fit under the Christmas tree.

To give a gift that gives joy and purpose to a vulnerable child.

With Lifesong's 2013 Gifts of Purpose Catalog, you can do just that! The catalog is full of a variety of creative gifts that can match any calling or price range. Gifts that impact ONE child. A child like... 

GOP - Andrei
Andrei, an orphan graduate who is developing agriculture and business skills through Lifesong Farms-Ukraine (Give Employment) or
GOP - Isaac 
Isaac, who was brought home from Uganda into a permanent, loving family (Give Forever Families).

GOP 300,000 matching gift-01This year, join Lifesong for Orphans in giving a Gift of Purpose. Until December 31st, your gift will be MATCHED up to $300,000! A gift that will show Jesus, the reason of the season, to a child in need.

To give a Gift of Purpose, please visit
Gift in Honor Card for email

Monday, November 18, 2013

Toy Story Waterpark

A little chemistry, a little physics and a lot of wet, messy fun.  For Gabe's birthday party he received a miniature Toy Story water park.  It comes complete with slide, buckets, small pool, shower (weird...yes?) and a Woody toy.  Woody changes colors in different temperatures of water, there are different levers to push to flood the slide with water and work the shower.  A lot of science for a child's little toy.  And after my initial apprehension of all the mess, this activity keeps Gabe's attention longer than I usually need to get dinner ready!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Meerkats were missing!

A 65 degree day in November?  We'll take it!  

A trip to the zoo between church and aquatic therapy was the best way to take advantage of the warm weather and sunshine.  

Oh the beautiful sunshine!  

The meerkats had already been moved inside for the winter.  The meerkats are one of Gabe's (and my) favorite exhibits.  He sat in the tunnel for a few minutes sure I was joking and surely they'd be poking their heads out of the tunnels soon. His disappointment was apparent when he finally gave up and walked away.  Poor boy!  

There were lots of leaves scattered across the ground.  We had fun looking for our favorites.  Gabe's favorite little leaf....
 and his favorite big leaf.  It was longer than my arm!

The rain started and we headed over to the rain forest. Despite the rain and his usual apprehension for sitting on the animal statues Gabe was enamored with this gorilla.  Once we made it in the building and saw the gorilla exhibit, he was super excited to see all four of them.  In real life!  He couldn't wait to go back out and see the statue again.  In the rain.  I agreed.  Because I'm fun like that.  Or perhaps it was on the way out [Smile].

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mapleside Farms

I love autumn.  
The smells.  
The chill in the air.  
The colors.  Oh how I missed the radiant leaf colors while we lived in Houston.  
And for our family, welcoming Fall means welcoming traditions.  
Being back in Ohio meant a visit to Mapleside Farms was in order.  

The last time we were there Gabe looked like this: 

Three years later, my how he's grown! 

Traditions started with pictures with pumpkins...

 and continued with more adventurous activities.

Racing down the biggest slide in Ohio was our first stop.

 The winners!

Everyone loved the ride through the apple orchards on the cow train.  
Seriously a cow train?  It couldn't get any cuter! 

Gabe and I bounced on a huge "pillow" before he finished the afternoon going down big tunnel slides.  

I love fall.  And family traditions.  

While the earth remains, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease" - Genesis 8:22