03.05.16This love…

Friends, it’s been too long. When we brought our sweet boy home in July, I was determined to soak up every moment. We had waited for so long for our precious baby that I didn’t want to miss a thing. For me, soaking up those early days meant giving myself permission to simply live each day, instead of write about them. I wanted to experience the highs and the lows without feeling the need to chronicle each moment. So the past eight months aren’t written in a journal or a blog—instead, they’re emblazoned on my heart, where I will treasure them always.

I have to say, in the days leading up to our baby boy’s homecoming, I was filled with fear. You see, we knew about sweet Crew, but we didn’t know if he’d be ours—if we’d get to call him our son. Daily, even hourly, I was on my knees praying, “Lord, I’ve never met this precious baby—I don’t even know what he looks like—but already love him madly and deeply. Would You allow us to bring him into our family? Would You entrust him to our care as we raise him up to know and follow You?”

And I’d rise to my feet again, unable to stop the tears from forming two perpetual rivers down my cheeks. What if his birthparents don’t choose us? What if they do, but we fail as parents? What if the wait has made me bitter, and I can’t find joy in motherhood?

That last one scared me the most. I have a cynical bent by nature. And, while this journey of mine has brought me closer to the Lord, it’s also made it harder for me to find joy in the little things. (Something I know the Lord is working on in me….)

But, by God’s grace, when we got the call and finally heard these words “I’m so happy to share that the birthparents have chosen you!” we felt joy. Unspeakable joy. And the very next day, when Crew’s birthparents rounded the corner, holding him in their arms, I thought my heart would burst with happiness.

The pain of the wait melted away—it vanished. And in its place was peace. This is why we had to wait. We were waiting for you. The Lord wanted to shape us into parents who would point you back to Him, sweet Crew. All those years, you weren’t ready for us yet—and we weren’t ready for you. But here we are—in God’s perfect timing. We’re a family.

I look back at these past eight months, and I’m just in awe. What a good God we serve, friends. He is just so faithful. He has given me love I didn’t know was possible for my son. This love, it makes getting up early a joy (most days) because I’m greeted with this sweet face.

Crew1

This love, it makes you laugh at the craziness of motherhood. You spit up all over your pants? No worries, little man. Mama loves seeing those chunky baby thighs.

Crew2

This love, it makes you breathe in those quiet moments—willing yourself to remember the way his tiny body feels in your arms.

Crew3

This love, it makes you celebrate the milestones—discovering the world anew through your baby’s eyes.

Crew4

This love, it changes you—forever.

And this love, it’s just a glimpse, a tiny glimmer of the love our Savior has for us. He delights in us. He calls us His own.

I had a hunch when I was writing from the valleys of our struggle to adopt, that one day I’d look back at those years and they wouldn’t hurt quite so bad. I knew I’d be able to see God’s glory shining through the cracks of my broken dreams as He fashioned them into something far more beautiful. But, friends, I had no idea. I could not have imagined the indescribable beauty and sheer joy He would bring.

You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” —Psalm 30:11–12

09.04.15And then there were three…

At 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21, my phone rang.

“Hi, Shannon!” It was our social worker from Bethany.

My breath caught in my throat as I waved madly for my hubby to join me.

“Oh, hi!” I tried to respond casually. I could feel my heart beating a mile a minute. I glanced down, thankful to be sitting in case I passed out.

We had been waiting for THIS call ever since we had first heard about a sweet baby boy a few weeks earlier. He had been born on June 19, and though we hadn’t met him or even seen a photo, we already loved him fiercely. I had spent weeks on my knees with my guy, asking the Lord to give us this child—asking that this would be the baby He had for our family.

“How are you guys doing?” our social worker asked.

We looked at each other and just laughed. “Oh, you know…” we said.

“I know it’s been a crazy day, but it gives me great joy to tell you that the birth parents have picked you guys to parent their baby boy.”

Our jaws dropped as tears filled our eyes. Five years. Five years of waiting, praying, aching, asking, pleading with the Lord to bring us a child and here we were—huddled around my desk with my phone on speaker bawling our eyes out. And you know what? It was perfect. It was so, so right.

“So, can you guys pick him up tomorrow afternoon?”

“Yes!” we answered without hesitation.

“Great! He’s in size 1 diapers and is on such and such formula…” my hands were furiously jotting notes as the happiest tears of my life splashed onto the pages of my well-worn notebook.

We hung up, hugged each other, and cried for a solid five minutes. Then, we got down on our knees and thanked the Lord for this incredible answer to prayer.

Being rather Type A in nature, both of us quickly realized that we had a matter of hours to run a million errands, so we did what all Type A people do—we made a list.

“Target, Trader’s…where else do we need to go?” my guy asked.

I ran to our nursery, quickly taking stock of the must-haves that were missing and jotting those down. I came back into the living room where my guy already had my purse and phone charger in hand.

“We’ll call and text people between errands,” he said.

It was one of the coolest nights I’ve spent with my guy. We loaded up on baby supplies and groceries and drove thru In-N-Out for dinner—all the while reading aloud the latest excited texts from family and friends.

The next day, we drove down to our agency, shaking with anticipation. There, we met our son—our baby boy. As I held him in my arms, the world around me faded to a blur. All I could see was his sweet face. This was the child we had prayed for. This was the one the Lord knew all along would be part of our family.

We’d love to introduce him to you, too. Meet baby Crew…

Crew

photo: the image is found | theimageisfound.com

God is so good, friends. He is unendingly good. Thank you for praying with us and supporting us as we waited for our little man. It means more than you’ll know.

06.20.15SpongeBob vs. the Buffalo

If you’ve spent any amount of time with my family, you know we are quite the group of storytellers. Our idea of a good time is sitting in a circle and recounting hilarious memories from years gone by. Of course, we have our favorite tales that we retell year after year. This one definitely ranks high on that list. I jotted it down for my Dad last Father’s Day, and I thought I’d share the hilarity with y’all today. Happy Father’s Day!

spongebob vs. the buffalo

I grew up vacationing on the remote side of Catalina Island, where the buffalo really do roam free. We had had one exciting buffalo encounter the year before when a herd decided to stampede through our campsite. But it was nothing a quick dive into my tent or hop onto a nearby picnic table couldn’t solve. So, in my 9-year-old wisdom, I thought the biggest buffalo danger I could face on the island was the plethora of brown pies littered about the sandy hills.

Catalina

Lovely Avalon on the front side of Catalina Island—definitely NOT where my family camped. Picture these hills and gorgeous blue ocean with zero buildings. Oh, and with wild buffalo. Lots of buffalo.

I remember one afternoon, it was growing late; the sun’s rays inched closer to the water. We had spent the whole day swimming in Little Harbor, and I needed to visit the restroom—an ancient porta-potty located at the top of one of the trails. I let my Dad know where I was headed and took off. About halfway up the hill, I heard a loud snort. Startled, I turned to see a huge buffalo with her baby not 15 feet from the trail’s edge. I panicked and bolted back down the hill toward my Dad.

“Dad! Dad!! There’s a HUGE buffalo by the trail and I can’t go by it!!”

“Is it on the trail?” he asked.

“Well, no. But practically!!” I replied.

“Just put your towel above your head,” he said calmly. “It will think you’re bigger than you really are and leave you alone.”

I remember waiting several seconds to see if that familiar grin would spread across his face in a joking smile. But he was serious. I realized that this insane man was about to send his fourth-grader back up the hill toward the evil buffalo.

But this craziness must run in our family, because I swallowed hard, lifted my towel with trembling fingers and began to walk toward the porta-potty once more. As I neared the giant beast, I gave it all I had, stepping on my tiptoes with my soggy SpongeBob beach blanket blowing in the breeze above my head.

The buffalo snorted once. Then twice. She stomped her hoof angrily at me, lowering her head as if to charge. I took off running, yelling some barbaric cry as if to scare her away, the whole time holding my towel high until I reached the safety of the blue plastic outhouse.

I remember hanging out near that decrepit porta-potty for a little longer than necessary, hoping the giant beast would get the hint and leave. Sure enough, she did, giving me a clear path to rejoin my family at the base of the hill.

“Dad!” I cried, running up to him. “Dad, I walked by the buffalo like you said, but she almost charged at me!”

“Oh, really?” he asked, a bemused look on his face. “Well, you made it, didn’t you?”

“Barely!” I said in my best Bob Wiley* impression. “Barely!”

*Bob Wiley is a character from one of our family’s favorite films, What About Bob?, which is best watched with someone who nearly hyperventilates from laughing so hard (i.e., my Dad).