Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Defining moments along the road...

Have you ever experienced one of those moments in your life that just SCREAMS out "turning point" or "defining moment"? When I think back to our adoption orientation back in January, it is exactly that. I can remember what I wore, where we parked our car, where I sat, many of the things that I was thinking...I think at the time I knew something was around the corner, but I had no way of really knowing what all this journey would entail...well, I still don't know everything that it will involve, but what a blessing to see the things that have already come about along this amazing pathway to expanding our family. All of that being said, this past Saturday was certainly a very special day for our family. As we walked into the orientation room and took a seat, everything felt so familiar from being there just seven months ago...and yet everything was also so new. Seven months ago, I entered that room carrying a heart that felt torn to pieces and trying to hang on to my hope. I was confident in God's path, but I was also weary from the journey. I was excited at the possibility of expanding our family through adoption, yet I really had no clue what that would look like. But now, just months later, I was able to enter into that room with a child in both arms and a heart that felt like it might burst into pieces but this time because it was so very full. I felt blessed beyond measure. And as I looked out at the hopeful adoptive couples, my heart was filled with such excitement for them because I knew they were each one step closer to feeling these same emotions and finding hope in what can be such a long and wearying journey. It was just such an amazing thing to be able to share with them our adoption journey so far, as well as to listen to the other two couples share theirs. One of the things that is so amazing about adoption is how we are all connected by this incredible journey, yet each individual path is so very unique-I don't think you'll ever hear two adoption stories that are the same.
I feel so incredibly blessed to be the mother of this amazing life. We are just so in love with this little boy! I think of all of the questions and tears to God, wondering why He would give me a desire to have a child and feel like He wasn't fulfilling it...but had He opened my womb, I wouldn't be holding Gabriel in my arms right now, and with every bit of my being I know this is the child God had birthed the desire within me to parent. Isn't it amazing how you can look back and see how God was shaping your heart, though at the time it may have felt like He was breaking it? It makes me think of the playdough Lucy likes to play with-she pounds it out, rolls it flat, and takes her time forming it into the masterpiece she has in her mind. It's not a "comfortable" process, but the end is beautiful! May I never lose sight of the beauty He promises to make from the ashes. May I never let go of the hope I have in Him. And may I never doubt that He is always working.

The words from an old CCM song keep running through my head this evening, so I want to close my post out with these beautiful lyrics:

"Along the Road"
Joy at the start
Fear in the journey
Joy in the coming home
A part of the heart gets lost in the learning
Somewhere along the road
Along the road your path may wander
A pilgrim's faith may fail
Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Darkness obscures the trail
Cursing the quest
Courting disaster
Measureless nights forbode
Moments of rest
Glimpses of laughter
Are treasured along the road
Along the road your steps may stumble
Your thoughts may start to stray
But through it all a heart held humble
Levels and lights your way
Joy at the start
Fear in the journey
Joy in the coming home
A part of the heart gets lost in the learning
Somewhere along the road
Somewhere along the road
Somewhere along the road

Friday, July 27, 2012

Back to the beginning...

Tomorrow is kind of an exciting day...we're headed back to the start of our adoption journey with Christian Homes.  Just a little over 7 months ago, we were attending our adoption orientation weekend with the agency, where, among lots of other things, we got to hear from some of the families who had adopted through CHFS...and tomorrow, we get to be one of those families sharing with hopeful adoptive couples!  We are so excited about getting to bring Lucy and Gabriel along with us to be on the adoptive parents panel for this weekend's orientation.  It feels like we've come full circle in so many ways, and my prayer is that we can be an encouragement to the couples who are going to be there who are praying about expanding their families through the wonderful gift of adoption, and who are maybe needing a glimpse of hope that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel.  Please be praying for us, that we will have the right words to say and that Lucy and Gabriel will be well-behaved.  Also, be praying for us as this meeting doubles as our first post-placement visit.  We have to do several of these before we are able to consummate Gabriel's adoption, which is why I said earlier that it feels like we've come full circle in MANY ways...but definitely not all ways.  I'm not necessarily worried at this point that something will fall through, but if I'm behind honest, I can't deny that there is a hint of fear of the unknown in the back of my mind.  Again, I'll share more in depth about all of this as I feel comfortable, but at this point, just please continue to pray for us to have peace and for all to continue to go smoothly. 

In other news. a friend of ours (and soon to be neighbor!  woohoo!) came and took newborn pics of Gabriel this evening as well as some brother/sister shots and a few family shots.  I can't wait to see how they turned out and to share some of them with you!  Gabriel stayed awake the entire two hours she was photographing until the very last few minutes.  I guess he is a lot like his big sister and didn't want to miss anything:)  Lucy was so funny--wanting to direct poses for all of the pictures.  She's so matter of fact when she talks and always seems to be on some sort of mission.  She truly lives her life with a PURPOSE, and I feel blessed (and often overwhelmed!) that the Lord has allowed me to guide that trait towards Him.  I know it's been a big transition for Lucy to not being the only child anymore, but for the most part, she has handled it all beautifully and I can tell she truly loves her baby brother.  (Although now that she has a baby brother, her nightly prayers have been for Jesus to bring her a baby sister, too:)  It was so sweet seeing her love on Gabriel in the photos.  She is so proud of him, and I just love to watch Gabriel stare so intently at her whenever she's close to him.  He has such a serious expression when he's awake--like he's always studying everything around him so intently.  I love how whenever he hears my voice he will turn his head towards me to look at me--just melts my heart!  He's such a snuggly little baby, too and loves to nuzzle his head in the crook of my neck.

Anyway...I could go on and on about both Lucy and Gabriel, but I'll save some for another post:)  For now, thank you all for your continued prayers for our family!  God is so good, and we are so thankful!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Four weeks has flown!

I'm sorry I haven't been very good about updating lately.  I figure ya'll understand that things have been a *bit* busy though!  These past four weeks have literally FLOWN by.

Yup, you read that right.  Our little GPT is already FOUR WEEKS OLD!  It's so crazy how quickly the time has passed, and yet, at the same time, when I sit and think about it, I can't really remember not having Gabriel in our lives.  Someone asked me recently if my feelings towards Gabriel were any different than they were towards Lucy after she was born, since I didn't get to carry him in my belly for nine months, but also since we had wanted a child so badly I think they were curious if that caused us to feel even more connected to him and thankful for him.  It's really hard for me to put into words what I feel about my son.  It's honestly as if my heart is so full that I can't focus on one emotion long enough to figure out what any of them are.  The love I have for this little boy is just SO overwhelming.  It's true that I didn't get to carry him in my belly for nine months, but not a day went by that I wasn't praying for him-he truly was in my heart and on my mind that whole time.  So, in some strange and unexplainable way, I do feel like I knew him for those nine months that God was busy knitting him in his birthmother's womb.  And those nine months of praying for him prepared my heart to continue to lift his precious life up to the Lord.  All of those nights of praying together as a family of three for Lucy's baby brother and sister and their birthmommy have now turned into us praying together as a family of FOUR.  God heard and He answered...I just have to ask myself why I get so surprised that He did??  (Anyone else hear what I'm saying?)  But this journey has been and continues to be so faith-building for me.  God has continually reminded me that He desires for me to present my requests before Him and have confidence that He is working and will answer...

And right now I need to answer my little boy's pleas for his "midnight snack"! LOL:)  Mommyhood calls...and I'm loving it!

"Not flesh of my flesh nor bone of my bone but still miraculously my own.  Never forget for one single minute, you didn't grow under my heart but in it!"

Thursday, July 19, 2012


I've been continuing to process through my emotions and thoughts from our adoption journey thus far, and the devotional I read this morning really spoke to me on it all, so I want to share a little bit of it with you, as well as a little more of our story from the hospital...

"If you're going through hard times, don't automatically assume that you must be doing something wrong or that God is disciplining you.  Seek Him out.  Walk with Him and know that He will accomplish His purpose in the middle of your circumstances, whether or not you ever know what that purpose is.  Take heart: God is working through your circumstances.  He will never let His children endure pain without a purpose, and we'll never go through it alone."  (from Journey on 7/19/12)

This particular entry also mentioned 2 Cor 4:8-9, which says this:

"We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed."

And if you go on to read further in the chapter, you'll find verse 18:

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

The past several days, I've been so overwhelmed by God's mighty works.  Even when I could not see evidence of it, God was behind the scenes working out every detail of our story so beautifully.  As we cried out to the Lord for a child, He was knitting together Gabriel in his birthmommy's womb; as we were filling out all of the necessary paperwork, taking required courses, and raising funds, God was working on this birthmother's heart to place her child for adoption; as we waited and trusted in His perfect timing, God was preparing the path for us to walk down with Him as our guide.  He was always working, even when I couldn't see it.  Looking back over my journal entries and prayer journal, I can recall pouring my heart out to God, many times with tears streaming down my face.  I knew God was there with me and comforting me, but now looking back it all takes on a whole new perspective.  I can just imagine my Heavenly Father sitting there with me so patiently and holding each tear in His hands as I clung to his promises, all the while He was answering my heart's cries even though I didn't know it.  He knew I was hurting, but He also knew that He was working...but I just couldn't see it...and I didn't need to be able to see it, because it wasn't the right time.  While God was answering my requests, He was also working on my heart to be prepared to receive His answer to me.  It just puts a whole new perspective for me on faith and trust.  Can't you just picture God as He is wiping our tears wanting so badly to say, "Don't lose heart!  Just trust me!  I really am working, and it is going to be so much more amazing than you could ever dream it to be, but you've got to wait.  It will be worth it; trust me!"

...The day before Gabriel's birthmom was able to sign over her rights, she had requested some time alone with him.  I definitely understood her wanting that time with him, but you can imagine my heart was so very torn.  I wanted so badly to be with him, but I was reminded he wasn't mine, and he might not ever be mine.  I had left some things in the hospital room that I needed for the evening, so I went up to get them and to tell her and Gabriel goodnight.  I was such a mess!  I was going on about two non-consecutive hours of sleep from that past 24 hours, and the weight of the situation was really starting to get to me.  As I walked down the maternity wing of the hospital, I passed by a couple walking the halls with their newly born baby.  I found myself saying to the Lord, "God, it just would have been so much easier if we could have just gotten pregnant and that could have been us..."  I was so overcome with an emotion of really wondering if I could go through with this whole thing, because, as badly as I wanted this little boy to be my son, me being able to call him mine meant that his birthmother would not.  And then I walked into the hospital room to see Gabriel laying their next to his birthmother.  I was overcome by this precious and beautiful baby boy who had absolutely no say in the matter of what was going to happen to him, and I was overcome by the love I saw in his birthmother's eyes for him, and as I kissed his sweet face goodnight for the evening, I was overcome with my own love for him, and a reminder that once again, God was in control of the situation and not me.  There was nothing I could do to change the situation but have faith and trust that God was working and His perfect plan for that little boy would be the end result. 

Trust is a funny thing...the reality of it is that it's very simple: God is in control, so why would we NOT trust Him completely?  But we lose sight of that simplicity by getting caught up in the twists and turns along the road.  When we encounter a sharp turn or a steep fall we begin to doubt: "If God was really in control there is no way He would let that happen."  But those bends and crooks are what makes the pathway to His perfect plan so much more beautiful once you get to the end of the road.  Anyone can lead you across a straight path, but only a mighty God could lead us safely through all of the twists and turns and rocks and rifts. 

As I look back on our journey thus far, I can say with ALL honesty that the heartache, the tears, the uncertainties, the lack of control, the stress...every single thing has been well worth the end result.  Yes, it would have been easier if we could have just given birth to our own flesh and blood, but if that were the case, I wouldn't have Gabriel, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that this is the child God placed on our hearts to have; this is the son God gave me the desire to parent; this is the precious life that is meant to be a part of our family, and I cannot imagine our family without him. A different path might have been easier, but it wouldn't have been as good...

So today, I'm just so overcome with emotion.  As a family member put it recently in regards to Gabriel, "God is always good, but sometimes He just overwhelms us, and this is one of those times." 

Truly, God is always at work and the pain He allows us to endure is never without a mighty purpose.  So trust in His purpose for YOUR life today, and embrace the process, for we truly do serve a mighty God who desires such amazing things for His children!

Monday, July 9, 2012

My Personal God...

I distinctly remember sitting on the "happy room couch" at my mom's house back in January.  My insomnia was giving me fits, so I was spending some time in the Word, and the Lord brought me to a passage in Isaiah that I have clung to throughout our adoption journey.  In fact, we ended up using it on our internet profile page for CHFS:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.  When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.  When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.  When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God…Do not remember past events, pay no attention to things of old.  Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming.  Do you not see it?  Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”  (from Isaiah 43:1-19)  

It's a passage that has given me a lot of hope in the recent months, and the Lord used it today to bring me comfort once again...

Many of you may have seen my post on facebook about Sunday marking the five year anniversary of my father's passing:

"Five years ago, on a Sunday morning, I lost my daddy.  Words can't express how much I miss him, and how much I grieve over all he has missed in these past five years."

You see, I had been DREADING this past Sunday morning.  Not only did it mark five years since my father's passing, but it also happened on the same day of the week.  I'll never forget being in praise team rehearsal and DH being told he needed to take an important phone call.  Since then, you'll almost never find me without my cell phone nearby, even during a church service (my mother had tried to get a hold of me, but my phone was turned off.)  It was literally, by far, THE worst day of my life.  So many unanswered questions, so many unmet goals, and just so very much grief...  So, maybe it's a bit understandable that for the past several weeks, the thought of going to praise team rehearsal five years later had my stomach in knots and my heart in a very fragile state.  But you know what?  There was something different about this particular Sunday...  On a day where I was so reminded of death, I was also reminded of the amazing gift of life, because on Sunday, I got to bring my newborn son to church for the very first time.  Yes, I still grieved over the loss of my daddy, but I also found myself rejoicing in the birth of my son.  As I reflected on it all after coming home that afternoon, I realized what a beautiful gift God had given me, not just in giving us a son, but also in WHEN he gave us our son.  He never ceases to amaze me with how He works out all of the details in our lives so beautifully and intricately.  Only a God like Him could do that!

So, once again, my thoughts turned to the passage in Isaiah...my "personal God" was reminding me to not dwell on the past, for He is doing something NEW!  Yes, I will always grieve over my Daddy, but I am so thankful for the special gift of comfort God provided me this year.  What a gift!

Remembering Billy Kent Rutherford: photo slideshow from my Daddy's funeral that my brother put together and I sang/played for...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What's in a name...

I remember when I was pregnant with Lucy, one of the first things people would ask (and I'm the same way!) was, "Do you have a name picked out?" It was always funny to me how people had no problem at all letting me know how they really felt about the name we had chosen. Whether through actual words or just a mere facial expression, it was evident how people really felt. No one was probably quite as vocal about their true feelings as my father was though! I remember one of my last phone conversations with him, he said "Well, I don't really care what you name her, because I'm still going to call her Lucy!":-) After my father passed away, there was no question that our little girl needed to have the name that her Pappy knew her by, so on November 1st, 2007, we said hello to our precious baby girl, Lucy Shea. After a rollercoaster year--DH being diagnosed with cancer, being blessed with a pregnancy we were told was unlikely for us to be able to have, the sudden death of my father, and then the birth of our beautiful daughter--we were able to close out a year full of many dark moments by welcoming a true light at the end of the tunnel. You see, the name "Lucy" means "bringer of light," and from the moment she was born, our Lucy Shea has truly lived up to her name of shining light into the lives of everyone she comes in contact with.

I say all of that to lead up to how we came up with the name for our son...

(Wow...our son...it still just amazes me and fills my heart with so many emotions that I get to type those words!)

We had a few names picked out that we really loved. (Come on girls, you know the drill: when you are TTC, you keep a sheet of paper with all your favorite names written down, right? Well, I definitely had a few of those on hand from the past several years!) Lucy had been praying for "Chuck" for months, so we began to think baby brother's name was going to be Charlie. But after thinking more about it, Charlie just didn't seem to fit. I'm not exactly sure how the name Gabriel first came to mind, but when we thought of it and I looked up the meaning, I fell in love with it. The name Gabriel means, "My God is my might," and the name Paul means "little one." (We really wanted to use the name Paul because I'm named after my mother who is named after her father, so I really wanted to keep that name in the family. Also, our daughter shares a name with her Daddy-Shea-so I thought it would be special for me to share a name with our son.) As we looked at our adoption journey, it was so evident of the power and might of our amazing God being weaved through all of the pages of our adoption story. Throughout our struggle TTC, my journal has been filled with many thoughts of total helplessness. There was nothing I could do to change the situation-it was all out of my control. But God reminded me how "when I am weak, then I am strong," (2 Cor. 12:10) because the weaker I realize I am, the more I am able to realize God's power, and what a blessing it is when we get to see our Lord at work!

The other thing I love about the name Gabriel is I immediately think of the angel Gabriel in the Bible. He is one of only two angels mentioned in the Bible, and get this--the other one's name is Michael! He is mentioned several different times, but two of those times really stuck out to me: Gabriel came to announce the birth of John the Baptist to his father, and Gabriel came to announce the birth of Jesus to Mary. He came bearing such good news-the BIRTH of two very important people, and the coming of both John the Baptist and Jesus was certainly an example of God's power and might in so many ways. And when I think of our little baby boy, I'm filled with a reminder of God's might in our lives, too, and what good news God brought to our family when we heard of our baby boy's coming, and how our son truly feels like an angel that has been brought into our lives.

After Gabriel was born and his birthmother had presented him to us *insert major defining moment in my life...I can't wait to share all of that with ya'll!* after awhile she said, "He really does look like a Gabriel, doesn't he?" And I couldn't agree more!

Then came the day after his birth. I found myself extremely emotional on this particular day, and at one point I was in the room just watching this precious little boy. I was overcome with love for him, but once again in our journey to expand our family, I felt so very powerless, and I realized his lack of control in the situation, too. Here was this beautiful and innocent little boy, so helpless and with no say whatsoever regarding his life. Once again, I had to come to terms with not being able to be in control, but being able to trust the One who was.

So, my dear Gabriel Paul, my prayer for you is that you would always embrace the "little one" that you are. That you would know that though you may be weak, our God is ALWAYS strong, and HE desires to be your might and show His strength through you. I pray you will be a display of His mighty power and that others will draw near to the Lord because of your life and your witness. May you live up to the name you have been given and bring glory to the Name that is above all names, Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My heart is so full...and so are my arms!

What a week! I can't believe that my SON is already one week old! What a rollercoaster of emotions this past week has held. I'm so anxious to share all of the details with you guys, but for now it's best for me not to do that (long story), so please hang tight, and in the mean time, let me just tell you all about this amazing baby boy God has placed in our arms!

He is SUCH a good baby! He is SO beautiful with a head full of gorgeous dark hair! He loves to be snuggled but also is so content in the swing or in his pack n play. So far he is a good eater and a great sleeper. The times he is awake you can just see him trying to soak everything in that's going on around him. I especially love seeing the way he looks at Lucy when she's singing to him-melts this mommy's heart for sure! It's only been a week since he came into our lives, but I just can't imagine life without him here now-it's been the smoothest and most natural transition. My heart is just so very, very full (and as a dear friend pointed out, so are my arms:-)

Coming home as a family of four was such an emotional moment. We walked in to find our house decorated with steamers, flowers, balloons, and signs, (and one delicious cookie cake!) all to help welcome our family home. A very dear friend of mine (who is also adopting) had put together the neatest Bible (all color coated by topics-it is SO cool!) and some ABC scripture cards (I love working on memory verses with Lucy, and it will be perfect for that!) No telling how much if her time she gave for such a special gift for our family! Another precious woman in our church had gotten a key to our house and spent the week decorating the nursery while we were gone. What a gift! We came home to, literally, a dream nursery! (I'll post a few pix below.) We also had friends who took care of our pets while we were gone, an AC issue that happened, and not to mention the multitudes of those covering our family in prayer and words of encouragement. I will never be able to fully express to each of you how much your acts of love, selflessness, and support have touched my heart. Each of you have played some sort of role in our journey to adoption. How beautiful it is to think of what Gabriel's story to becoming part of our family looks like, and within that picture would be images of each of you. Thank you seems so inadequate, but please accept my deepest and most sincere words of gratitude. We are so blessed!