Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy Anniversary DH!

From 11/29/12:

Ten years ago, I was a ball full of nerves and excitement as we finished up the final touches at the church and prepared for the rehearsal dinner for our wedding. I was spending my last day as PBR, and I was so excited at the lifetime God had ahead of me. I was SOOO young, a bit naive I'm sure, but completely confident that this was God's plan for my life. People would ask me why I was getting married so young when there was so much life yet to be experienced. (I was just 20.) My response became something along these lines: "I believe God has a great plan for each of our lives, but I believe He can accomplish His will for my life more fully by placing me with this amazing man to be my spiritual leader, partner in ministry, and partner in life." I have thought of that statement many times and still cling to its truth-over and over again I have seen how God has drawn Michael and I closer together as a couple to be able to accomplish His will in a much greater sense than we ever could have done on our own. Don't get me wrong-this has nothing to do with us! It's all about what God has chosen to do through us, and we are so humbled, grateful, and blessed by his plan and His path for our family!

Five years ago, we celebrated 5 years of marriage by going out to dinner...with our newborn daughter. And now that another 5 years has passed, God has blessed us with another child! (I will be honest and say I hope He will bless us with another before the next 5 years rolls around tho;-) to celebrate our "diamond anniversary" we took a getaway to the Gaylord. Was it nice to be able to sleep undisturbed throughout the night? Yes! Was it nice to go out to dinner and it be just the two of us? Yes! Is it nice to just follow our own schedule of what we want to do? Yes! (Although during these times of being without the kids, we talk about them constantly!) But the reason these rare times are enjoyed so much is because of the blessing we have been given of being parents. DH and I have done a LOT of traveling since we were married, having lived so far away from most of our family for so long, but we've always enjoyed our times in the car together to just be able to visit and laugh and dream with one another. It's funny to see how our conversations are now, ten years into our marriage. We weren't just visiting and laughing and dreaming with one another about one another on this trip. Instead, we were talking about our kids, laughing at the silly things they say and do and the ways they make us smile, and dreaming of what God will have them be in their lives. With each thing that we see on our getaway, I find myself saying, "Wouldn't Lucy love this?" Or "I wonder what Gabriel's reaction to this would be?"

All of that being said, I'm just filled with so much thankfulness today that God has placed me on this path for my life as a traveler alongside such an amazing man I get to call my DH.

Happy "diamond" anniversary to the love of my life!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Another step in the journey...

As I'm typing this, I have the sweetest baby boy sitting very contentedly in my lap.  I think back to a year ago, when my arms felt so empty as we struggled through the loss each month of realizing we weren't pregnant, and we so badly wanted to expand our family.   But now here I am, with a full lap!  When we were driving home the other day, DH and I just looked at each other, and I said, " did we get to be so blessed?"  My heart truly feels like it's overflowing when I think of it--not only has God given me the gift of being a wife to the most amazing husband, but he's also given me the gift of being a mother to these two precious children.  I am so very thankful!

Around this time last year, Gabriel's birthmother was going to her first prenatal appointment, and today, DH and I will take him to our last post-placement visit with our caseworker.  We feel so very blessed that we are already to this point in our adoption journey.  Only God could orchestrate everything so beautifully, and we are grateful, thankful, and humbled!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Christmas Inspirations...

Black either love it, or you avoid it like the plague!  My family falls into that first category though: We LOVE Black Friday!  It's not just about the good deals and that rush of finding the PERFECT gift for someone though.  Nope.  This specific shopping day holds a pretty special tradition for my family members...

My father was a VERY hard worker.  He pretty much worked 7 days a week from very early in the morning until late in the night many nights.  He rarely took days off, but there were a few days he always took off, Thanksgiving and Black Friday being two of the few.  Getting to spend special one on one time with him was a treat, so around fifteen years ago when he asked me if I wanted to go Black Friday shopping with him, I enthusiastically agreed.  I remember it being dark outside when we huddled into our Nissan Stanza wagon and headed for K-Mart to snag an amazing deal on some diamond bracelets.  From there, we went on to Sears, where Daddy checked out all of the tool sales.  Next, we were one of the first to enter Mervyn's and JC Penney to receive their annual holiday ornament freebies.  Eventually, we ended up at Ross where my Dad picked out the most amazing nine west knee-high old-timey lace-up leather boots for me, which I still own:)  It was a full day, and an exhausting day, but it was special to spend time together.  So, thus began the start of our family tradition of Black Friday shopping.  My family had it down to a fine science: someone would go pick up several copies of the newpaper on Thanksgiving morning, and throughout the day we would all scour over the sale ad pages, marking down the finds we hoped to grab and creating a detailed list of where to be, when to be there, and what to get.  It may seem like a silly and almost worldly tradition to some, but it really was so much more than just buying presents.  To me, it was about being together as a family and joining forces to do something together.  We didn't take a yearly summer vacation together, and we didn't even eat dinner around the table together (we rarely got to eat dinner together period), but on that one day each year, we spent it together.  That time meant more to me than any amazing bargain or any gift, and I treasure it.

Lucy's first Black Friday shopping experience, 2007
My father passed away over five years ago, but we've kept up our family's tradition of Black Friday shopping.  We even took Lucy out with us in the wee hours of the morning when she was just a few weeks old (goodness knows we weren't sleeping anyway! LOL:)  I will admit, it isn't the same, but in a way, just going out on that day keeps my Daddy with me through the holiday season, because I know if he were still alive, he would most certainly be there with me.  Sometimes, the grief I have over his loss is so heavy that I feel like I can't even breathe.  I miss his jolly, contagious laugh, his thick, southern (and often exaggerated) drawl, and his silly jokes.  Mostly though, I just miss his presence with me.  Even when he was alive, it was something I didn't get as much of as I longed for...

So why do I write about all of this today?  With the cooler temps finally showing up in West Texas, the feeling of fall is in the air, and as I looked out the window at the leaves flying through the streets as I sipped on my cup of pumpkin spice coffee, my mind raced towards Thanksgiving.  I've been working on a Christmas album and having a really difficult time coming up with arrangements that I'm happy with, but this morning I felt drawn to the piano.  I remember DH telling me the other day, "If you're going to call it 'Christmas Inspirations,' then just think of what inspires you about Christmas."  I've been chewing on his statement for the past several days, and this morning, the answer finally struck me: Presence.  The one thing I longed for from my earthly father so much was his presence, and the one thing my Heavenly Father desires for me is to be ever in His presence.  I cannot experience the presence of my Daddy anymore on this earth, but I can daily experience the presence of my Heavenly Daddy.  Do I take that for granted though?  My prayer is that not just through this holiday season, but throughout every single day I will bask in the glory and wonder of my Daddy-God's presence.  The reason for this season we are coming upon is all about celebrating the most amazing gift we could ever be given: the presence of an almighty God, who loved us so much that He came to this earth to be with us.  Now THAT'S a gift you won't find in the sale ads for Black Friday, but it's one I pray I will take with me everywhere I go...
Here's a sneak peak at a "rough draft" of one of the songs on my Christmas album:)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Moments Make Memories...

My baby girl has now been 5 years old for over a week.  Sometimes I catch myself trying to say something about my "4 year old," and then I remember she's not 4 anymore.  I know everyone says it as they get older, but seriously, time really does fly by.  The older you get, the quicker the days pass by.  As we were praying with Lucy before she went to bed tonight, I found myself just wanting to bottle the moment up of my cheek being pressed against hers while Daddy prayed over her, of her sweet giggles as I showered her with kisses, and her precious smile with all of her baby teeth present.  I know there will come a day where she doesn't want her momma snuggling so close next to her and showering her face with kisses and where her baby face grin will turn into a beautiful young lady smile.  I don't necessarily want time to stand still, because there's so many wonderful things to experience with each stage of life, but I do want to always stay in check that I'm not taking any of these moments for granted.  After all, these moments are what make memories, so what kind of memories do I want to create for her?

I remember hearing someone say that we have 9 whole months of carrying our children in our bellies close to us, but a lifetime of learning to let them go, and it seems that the older our children get, the harder it is to let go.  We see these milestones pop up all over the place, and one of them made their presence known this week in the drop off lane at school.  I really enjoy taking Lucy into the school building each day.  I open the car door for her and hold her sweet little hand as we walk into the building.  When we get into the cafeteria, I give her a big hug and kiss and tell her to have a good day and to eat a carrot (a family thing we say that means, "I love you.")  I usually visit a bit with her TA who is a good friend of mine, and then I head back home and fire up the keurig.  This morning was different though.  DH had to leave the house early to make a hospital visit, and he usually stays home with GP while I take Lucy to school and then he goes to work after I get back.  But since he wasn't home this morning, I had to load Gabriel up.  Lucy asked if she could walk in "all by myself" this morning, so I decided that would be OK since it would be kind of difficult to get GP out of the car for such a short period of time.  She was so excited!  I opened the door for her, gave her a hug and a kiss and told her to eat a carrot (I'm not ready to let go over the whole drop off SOE!) and then she excitedly ran off, her cheerleader skirt swinging back and forth while her pig tails bounced up and down.  I could tell she was so excited and felt like such a big girl to be all by herself...but what she didn't know is that her mommy didn't just drop her off and drive away.  No way!  I slowly drove the car forward as she walked forward so I could get a view of her making it into the building.  As I drove off, I sighed.  My baby girl is getting so big and so desires to experience that taste of independence.  It made me think about my relationship with my Heavenly Father, too.  Sometimes, I'm just like my little four five year old daughter, wanting to taste my independence and go at things alone.  But, even when I do try to go at it alone, my Jesus is always there watching over me, waiting for me to come back and realize it's always best to let Him lead the way.  I doubt my little Lucy is going to revert back to wanting her momma to walk her into the school building every day for the next twelve years (you know this momma sure is going to try tho!) but I do hope she realizes that I'm always willing to walk by her side and be there for her...and if she doesn't, I'll just have to drive slowly behind;-)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Raise your right hand...

If you've ever watched a court scene on a movie, I'm sure you're well aware of this common statement:

"Raise your right hand.  Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?"

 Well, today I would like to re-write that phrase to say something like this:

"Raise your right hand...and wave it around like crazy as you jump up and down screaming with excitement!!"

OK, so I doubt this newfound phrase is going to fly in any court of law, so I better go ahead and get my jumping up and down and screaming out of my system because...

Our court date has been set for -----.  How cool is that date--?!  We are just SO over the moon excited that we are to this point in our adoption journey.  Please join us in praising God today!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day 2012

I had a funny conversation with Lucy on the way into the school building this morning:

Me: Today is a very important day.  Do you know why?

Lucy: Why?

Me: Because today, Mommy gets to vote for who is going to be President.

Lucy: (very excitedly) I want to be President!

I couldn't help but laugh and smile and my sweet and silly little girl.  I also wouldn't be surprised if she stuck to that desire and went for it--she's certainly a go-getter!:-)  And, of course, her mama would definitely vote for her!!  After my chuckles settled down though, my mind wandered to our last election.  Campaigning was beginning around the time Lucy was born, and my FIL made this really amazing video to support Huckabee.  Just like my FIL states in the video, I am also a one-issue voter on the single matter of pro-life.  To some, this seems silly at first thought: "Why would you base EVERY decision on one little thing?"  Well, I truly believe that people's stance on this one issue effects every single other decision that they make, because every decision that is made effects our LIVES, so if we don't value life, what does that say about the decisions we make for people's lives?  It goes even deeper than that, but I'm really not trying to start a debate here.  And if you disagree with me, please don't feel like I'm personally attacking you.  This is just an issue that has personally impacted my life in so many ways, and it's really important to me, and it's how I feel.  We're all entitled to our opinions, right?:)

At any rate,, election day, as we all know, falls in the month of November, which is also National Adoption Month.  So today, as I head to the polls, I will have two very important people tagging alongside of me, and I will cast my vote for the candidate that I believe best upholds the value of the sanctity of life.  Not just for my life and my children's lives, but for the lives of the unborn.

Gabriel Paul
Lucy Shea
Every life matters, and I'm so thankful for these little lives that God has entrusted me with!  As their mother, my goal is to protect them and guide them in life, and it is my prayer that every decision I make, every action I take, and every word that I say reflects that purpose.

>>>>As a totally funny sidenote, I also want to add this video to the mix.  Even though I'm not entirely happy with the choices we have this year for the presidential campaign, I am thankful that I have been given the RIGHT to vote.  No matter what, someone is going to be president and me sitting back disgruntled about the choices isn't going to change that.  So, today, I will exercise my right to vote...and you'll probably catch me singing this particular song as I'm in line:)