Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Truth About Adoption

If you recently started reading this blog you may not know we adopted our youngest son, Ethan, who just turned 2.  You can read about our story here.  Or you can click on the adoption label on the right hand side of my blog.

When someone finds out we adopted the most common reaction is curiosity.  I get so many questions about the process and why we decided to do it.  The majority of questions I get start out like this, "Tell me truthfully..." and usually include something like, "aren't you worried that..." or "what if...".  These questions do not offend me at all.  There is nothing I love more than talking about how Ethan came to be part of our family.  And I can't say I blame people for being curious.  I can't say I blame them for having hesitant or somewhat negative first impressions about the process of adoption or taking in a child that is not biologically your own.  Because I had a lot of those same fears before God took them away from me.

So, in this post I want to be perfectly truthful about adoption, or at least my experience with it so far.

Adoption has without a doubt been the best decision my husband and I have made in our almost 11 years of marriage.  Better than him getting out of the military.  Better than us moving back to Texas.  But the truth is we did not make that decision alone.  God planted a seed in both of our hearts a long time before we adopted.  It was such a small seed that we did not even share our hopes with each other until years later.  As we started the process we faced many roadblocks but God continued to knock them down, one by one, all the while strengthening our faith and trust in Him and His plan.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." ~Romans 8:28

Adoption has opened my eyes to a whole new way of loving and what love means.  It has taught me that His kind of love has no fear (worries). 
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear." ~1 John 4:18

Adoption has shown me that God blesses those who seek His will. 
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." ~Matthew 7:7

Adoption has shown me that my love has no limits or boundaries.
"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." ~1 Corinthians 13:7

Adoption has helped me to become far less judgmental of others.  It has changed my outlook on life and changed my heart.
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." ~Luke 6:37

Most importantly, adoption has shown me that family has an entirely different meaning than what I always thought.  It has made me realize that we are all part of His family.  It doesn't matter whether we are related by blood, come from different backgrounds, the color of our skin or the amount of money we have. 
"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." ~Ephesians 1:5

We all have the ability to love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).  And He calls us to share that love with others (1 John 4:7).

And that, my friends, is the truth about adoption.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

You Know You Are Old When...

I have had a lot of these moments lately so I thought I would share.

You know you are old when...

  • You get really excited about getting new tires on your car.
  • Your DVR recordings shift from reality shows to crime shows.
  • You realize that the person born in 1992 is legally able to drink.  I hope you were all as shocked by this as I was.
  • You still wake up before 8 am when you are not with the kids.
  • Sex and Sleep become very closely ranked.
  • You frantically search for something that you have had in your hands for the last 10 minutes.
  • You stop giving a crap what people think about you.
  • You drive through a fast food restaurant and can't comprehend why they would be open 24 hours.
  • The bands you loved as a teenager start making "comeback tours".
  • Your kid knows more about electronics than you do.
  • You're up at 3 am...because of a crying toddler or a dog that needs to go out (an OLD dog).
  • You would rather sit at home drinking wine than go to a bar where you have to yell over the noise.
  • People in their 40's and 50's no longer seem old. 
  • Conversations with your best friend involve your baby's eating, pooping and napping schedule.
  • You start hand writing thank you notes.
  • A house party means wine, grilling out and board games... not liquor, vomit and Febreeze.
  • Going braless is liberating...and not at all sexy.
  • Instead of being jealous of the hot girls' selfies on Facebook you feel sorry for them and hope they will realize their worth and get it together.
  • It takes you three days to recover from a workout.
  • You start a sentence out with, "Kids these days..."


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Comparing and Judging

Okay moms... we are ALL guilty of comparing ourselves to other moms which usually leads to judging other moms, probably to make ourselves feel better.  Why do we do this?

I am guilty, guilty, guilty.  There is this mom who picks her kid up from Garrison's school every single day at school wearing her tight workout clothes.  See how I did that?  There was no need to put the word "tight" in there but I chose not to take it out because I take little jabs without even meaning to.  She is so cute and fit bouncing up to the front of the school as if she has loads of energy to spare and here I come in my frumpy work clothes balancing E on my hip yawning and wondering how I'm going to stay awake until bedtime.  If I was being honest with myself I'm sure that is not how others see me, but it is how I sometimes feel.  I feel a huge stab of jealousy.  Why can't I stay home and take Ethan to MDO a few days a week so I can work out with my personal trainer?  I don't even know if this lady has a personal trainer or childcare for her youngest.  Maybe she jogs around the block with her youngest and then does a workout DVD while he is taking a nap.  As opposed to me who would be catching up on the latest episode of the Bachelor, writing out my grocery list, planning our weekly meals and then napping when my kid naps. 

My point is we all do it.  We all compare ourselves and then we all, even when we don't want to or don't realize we are doing it, judge each other.  How long is it going to take us to realize we are not all the same?  We <should have> discovered this in high school.  And maybe we did all come to the realization that we are all different as individuals and have come to respect other women in our lives for their qualities that are different from our own.  So why is it that we still compare ourselves as wives and mothers?

We all have different passions.  The hot mama at the school may be super passionate about exercise and nutrition.  I on the other hand and super passionate about food.  Just kidding, kind of.  But I really do love to cook.  It relaxes me and it is one of the ways I choose to serve my family, especially my husband.  Maybe we look at other moms and wish we could throw Pinterest worthy parties for our kids or be there at the school to volunteer for every class party and be the supporting mom at every single school day assembly.  But maybe that's not realistic for you.

I have learned that I can't look to other women to decide what kind of wife and mom I want to be.  I have to look at myself, the gifts God has given me, the needs of my husband and my children and decide what kind of wife and mom I want to be. 

There is nothing wrong with a woman who enjoys working full time and admits she cannot be with her kids 24/7.  There is nothing wrong with a woman who may not be making the smartest financial decision by working part time to earn money for the family but also spend more time with the kids.  There is nothing wrong with a woman who decides to stay home and homeschool her kids because they learn better in a one on one environment.  There is nothing wrong with a woman who picks up takeout every night on her way home from work.  There is nothing wrong with a woman who cooks gourmet meals for her family every night.  There is nothing wrong with a woman who stays up until 2 am cleaning her house because if she lived in filth she would feel completely out of control.  There is nothing wrong with a woman who lets the clutter build up and chooses to spend her free time with her kids or husband as opposed to worrying about the state of the house.


I encourage y'all today to be the best woman, wife and mom YOU can be.  Build fellow women up and support them.  Write a list of all your good qualities and recognize your value and worth as an individual, wife and mom.  God has given every single one of us gifts and we need to learn to enhance our own gifts rather than trying to mimic someone else's.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dear Ethan (Happy 2nd Birthday)

I have started a blogging tradition of writing letters to my boys around their birthdays.  I plan on turning some of my posts into a family book at some point and I am excited to include these letters to them in this book.

Dear Ethan Gregory,

What a year we have had!  Last month was rough with you being sick and in the hospital twice but you showed us, yet again, what a fighter you are.  We really bonded during our time together in the hospital and I am grateful for that time, as hard as it was.  You were such a good boy and let the nurses and doctors do everything they had to in order to get you better.  At one point the nurses were even fighting over who got to give you a bath.  They all loved you so much and when you surprised them with a sweet smile, high five or hug it just made their day!  You also learned how to use a thermometer and listen to your chest with a stethoscope.  Who knows... maybe you will end up being a doctor!  God has blessed you with a strong personality and fighting spirit and I know without a doubt that you will use that for His glory some day.

You continue to bless our lives and touch the lives of others whether you know it or not.  Do you know that when you were in the hospital people were praying for you that admitted they haven't prayed in a long time?  God used your situation to help bring people (Daddy, Garrison and me included) closer to Him, even if just for a minute.  I hope you know how incredible that is!

I love that you are starting to talk so much more.  I love hearing you repeat words and express yourself.  I love your sweet smile.  I love your laugh.  I love your raspy voice.  I love your feisty and independent personality.  I love the way you love your brother.  I love you just the way you are!

In this past year you learned to walk, run and talk.  You are still a great sleeper and on the occasion you do wake up in the middle of the night you do an awesome job of putting yourself back to sleep.  Thank you... you will realize what a gift this is when you become a Daddy one day!  You still go to Nadia's during the day and you LOVE spending time with her and her family.

I can't wait to see what this next year brings.  We are all so blessed to have our health, each other and Jesus. 

We love you so much E!




Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Overwhelmed and Overcame (and Major Recap)

I cannot believe it has been three weeks since my last post.  While I have some valid excuses for not posting I have so desperately missed the therapy of getting my thoughts on paper out electronically.  I thought about breaking this post up into several posts that made more sense but then I remembered the title of my blog and decided to give it all to you at once.  Let me give you a not so short recap of our last few weeks...

After Ethan's first hospital stay we were home for a day and a half and Ethan seemed to be doing okay but definitely not 100%.  A follow up x ray showed that the effusion had grown and this concerned the doctors so they told us we would likely have to go back to the hospital.  I was so sad to miss Garrison's class party that I was in charge of but I had some amazing moms (who I have yet to meet) that stepped right in to help.  I took him back to the Childrens' Plano ER so we could decide next steps.  The minute we walked in Ethan started screaming and I don't blame him.  We were sick of being in a hospital.  As they were starting the IV he looked at them and said, "All done, all done!"... talk about heart breaking. 

After some tests and consults with other doctors they decided they wanted to do a procedure on him where they would stick a needle through his rib cage to get to the fluid outside his lungs and drain out the fluid.  I knew there were risks with this and they were trying to avoid doing this during our first stay.  They wanted us to go to Childrens' downtown for this procedure and while we were waiting on the ambulance to transport us the sweetest nurse in the ER came in to check on me and I lost it... just lost it.  I had been so strong for so many days.  While I knew he would be taken care of and that God had this I was still so heartbroken for my baby and I was really lacking strength.  This sweet nurse just let me cry and comforted me with silence and a hug.  She tried to lift my spirits by telling me how great Childrens' downtown was.  When the ambulance came Ethan had a fan club of medical staff telling him goodbye.  Apparently he is a popular patient but then again, how could he not be?  Look at this sweet face!

I won't go through the day to day of our stay at Childrens' but I want to say their doctors (ALL of them) are truly incredible.  I mean, wow!  They did do the procedure and could not drain much fluid at all.  Apparently the infusion was segmented so there were several pockets and the fluid had actually hardened so there was no way to drain it.  The two options left were surgery (literally opening him up and scraping it all out) or hoping the body would absorb it over time with long term antibiotics.  The surgeons did not think the risks of surgery were worth it so they decided to go with the antibiotics route.  They had told us this may take a long time for his body to absorb it and surgery was not completely ruled out for the future if it did not heal. 

He was released the day before Christmas Eve.  Merry Christmas to us and Happy Birthday to Ethan!  For those who don't know his birthday is on Christmas Day so he has been our little miracle since the beginning.  Fast forward 4 days... remember that, FOUR days... and we went in for a follow up doctor appointment and an ultrasound.  The nurse called me late that afternoon and told me the ultrasound showed nothing.  Nothing!  No effusion, no pneumonia.  I asked her how that was possible and she said she didn't know but that it was completely clear.  Wow!  I don't know why I was shocked because I knew God had this.  Aside from my emotional roller coaster and wavering strength my faith was steadfast.  I knew without a doubt God would heal my baby but I did not expect him to be healed that quickly.  Praise God!  Ethan is now 100% back and we are so incredibly grateful! 

It goes without saying that our families are so supportive and helped out tremendously while we were in the hospital.  My mom was there every day to lend a hand or just be there for company.  My dad and Garrett's parents visited very often as well.  Garrett's uncle brought us by some of his ridiculously yummy BBQ.  It took everything in us to not chow down when he brought it at 9 am! :)  Check out 4 T's BBQ and Catering here... they are in Forney but they also cater.

I am so blessed to have such great friends.  We had friends come visit in the hospital with food, care packages and gifts for us and the boys.  I love how well they know me, too - can't go wrong with wine and Target gift cards!  We also had friends volunteer to keep Garrison overnight to give him some normalcy and fun in the midst of all of this.  Y'all know who you are and I am so very thankful for your encouragement, prayers and love through all of this.

I think one reason I have waited so long to blog about this is because I feel like I lack the proper words to completely convey this journey.  When I heard this Jeremy Camp song the other day I realized I can sum it up in two words - "Overwhelmed" and "Overcame". 

I was overwhelmed...
I was overwhelmed with sadness for my baby.  I was overwhelmed with God's presence while singing praise and worship songs at my baby's bedside night after night.  I was overwhelmed with a feeling of peace knowing that so many prayer warriors were lifting Ethan and us up.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude for family and friends who stepped in.  Most of all I was overwhelmed with God's healing power and grace for us. 

Jesus overcame. 
The definition of overcome is control, master, conquer, defeat.  Jesus had everything under control so I did not have to worry.  Jesus mastered, conquered and defeated Ethan's sickness.

Savior, worthy of honor and glory.  Worthy of all our praise.  You overcame.
Jesus, awesome in power forever.  Awesome and great is your name.  You overcame.

We will overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony.  Everyone overcome.

Photo/Video Recap

Here are some updated photos and videos I wanted to share with y'all of the last few weeks.  Enjoy!

We tried keeping it light in the hospital.  This is one of the many reasons I love my husband.

One of Ethan's trips out of the room.  He loved listening to this piano player and the man kept looking over and giving Ethan a wave and a smile.
Boys being boys!  Like I said, back to normal at home!  :)
Christmas Morning at HOME! :) 

Family Picture - thanks Garrett! :)
Happy Birthday Ethan!

Sweet Cousins
More Sweet Cousins
Posing like mannequins... I can't tell you how many people laughed at them! 
Check out Ellie's hand on the hip action.
Oy vey...

Certificate to a painting class... thanks Grammy! 
Can't wait for them to come back in town to use these!
Doesn't get much sweeter... 
Spending some Christmas money at Build a Bear

He loved it!
Garrison, Horns (his longhorn), Ethan and Puppy (because we knew he would call him that anyways). :)

NYE at Grammy and Papa's

Grammy cooking away...
While the boys play... I mean grill (some YUMMY steak and crab legs I might add)!

We brought the pups and they did GREAT!

Mama and sweet E
Giving Boogie some New Year's loving!
Popping poppers with Papa!
Overall I would say 2013 was a fantastic year!
  • Garrison played baseball in the spring and fall and is now playing basketball for the first time.  He is doing great in 2nd grade and I love his teacher.
  • Ethan is talking up a storm and as cute (and stubborn) as ever.  We are so blessed to have his amazing sitter and my friend in our lives.
  • We are blessed with some incredible family and friends (old and new).
  • I joined the worship team at church and am loving it.  I have also been trying to spend more time with my girlfriends and feel like I have strengthened a lot of those relationships.
  • Garrett became a serious hunter and the boys and I get to reap the benefits with some awesome deer meat.
  • We are all healthy.
  • We have each other.
  • We have Jesus!