Thursday, February 21, 2008

I've Moved!!

Check out my new blog at: www.lifeunabridged.wordpress.com I will no longer be posting on this site, so check out my new one!! Also, make sure you change this in your bloglines or RSS feeds and any links you have on your blogs!! Thanks friends....hope to see you in my new cyber casa :)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I'm Still Here.

Hey everyone. If you're reading this I guess it means that you haven't given up on me and this silly little blog yet. I have so much to say, but I just haven't been in the mood to blog lately. I'm hoping to get back into it this week, though, so here are some previews for coming posts soon. Just wanted to let you know that I'll be back soon and keep myself accountable to write this week. Here's what's coming to a blogspot near you:

1. our big move to FL
2. major huge adoption news. still sorting through lots of things. this has been the main reason for my hiatus. we have so much to pray through think through & it is just overwhelming me. stay tuned...
3.ava singing her abc's
4. birthday extravaganza
5. gilmore girls
6. i need help potty training the kid. be prepared for questions & advice
7. i heart the office
8. cute ava (she's obsessed with kissing me on the lips right now. and i have to tell you I LOVE IT!!!)
9. laziness
10. juno

that's enough for now. so please don't abandon me. i know i've become bad blogger girl. i'll try to make up for my downfall. good night.

Friday, January 25, 2008

One Year

Today is our 1 year adoption anniversary! One year ago today we got word from our agency that we had been approved for the El Salvador program. It was only 3 days after my Mom's first surgery--what a year this has been! It took us close to forever to complete our dossier, but it's in and we're a whole year closer to Bella. Let's just pray that she's home by next Jan 25th!! I love you my sweet Bella--happy "we're you're forever family" anniversary!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I Should Not Be Writing This Post

Instead I should be packing up my house, but I am procrastinating in the worst possible way. I have so many random things spinning in my head right now and I want to get them out of there so that I can move on & get some work done. In a way this is my "baby book" for Ava, so I have to record a couple of things. And so without further ado...is that how you spell ado?? What a strange word. Anyways, because you love it oh so much, the bullet points:
  • I got back from FL today after being there for 2 1/2 weeks. It is eerily quiet in my house with no Matt & no cat. Wow. That rhymes....I should write a book about the Matt and the Cat...Get it....the cat and the hat??? Oh my goodness I crack myself up. WOW.
  • Matt has been out of the country for 2 weeks now & I'm missing him so badly. He went to Ethiopia for about 8 days and now he is in Israel. One side of me is so thrilled that he is getting to experience all of these things. His stories have been just amazing. God check out his blog here. On the other hand I am crazy jealous of him & wish that I could do the things he is getting to do. I know my time will come & this is just a season for me (having young kids) but a part of me just longs to go on a mission trip for a month or something. He gets back late Thursday night. Then he has a speaking engagement this weekend. And then a big open house for work. So basically I don't get him until Monday. And then we have 3 days until we move. How on earth will I get everything done without him?
  • I am thankful for international & satellite phones.
  • My parents have a dog named Lexi. Ava loves her very much & fondly calls her Sexy. We giggle every time we hear it.
  • I swear Ava grew 3 inches over the last 2 weeks. Her pants are turning into high waters. Slow down kid--don't you know your parents are on a tight budget?
  • I went to Steve & Barry's and finally got to see Sarah Jessica Parker's new line of clothes, Bitten. Everything is so cute & EVERYTHING in the entire store was $7.98. I got a pair of amazing jeans for $7.98. Don't you just love those little shopping blessings?
  • I had the fun task of picking out a place for my family to live without my husband ever seeing it. It stressed me out more than it should have. I am so happy with what we found though. We're going to rent the cutest little 2 bedroom villa for a year. It is in a great part of town & I really think we will be cozy & happy there. Hopefully Matt will like it.
  • My most BELOVED curtains were sacrificed to the sale of my home. I can't even put into words how much I love those curtains. They were the sweetest little blessing from God. One of those silly little minor things that God takes care of and reminds you that He cares about those silly little minor things. And now they're gone. I cried over them first & then I got extremely mad at my realtor for giving them away w/o asking me first after I SPECIFICALLY asked her to save my curtains. And then I had this flesh vs. Spirit war with God. He won. He reminded me that they are just pieces of fabric that hang over windows. They are "stuff". When I die they won't come with me to heaven (although they are heavenly!!). They will never draw someone to Jesus. They will not feed hungry people. So now I'm over it. Or at least I'm close. I was over it until I walked back in my house today & saw them in all their glory. Ok enough......I'm done.
  • My sister Emmy is coming to help me pack this weekend. She is such a blessing to me.
  • My Mom is doing just amazing. She is still struggling with her nerve damage, but she is seriously a new person. Her hair is growing back & it looks so cute. And she was dancing & playing with Ava. It made me so joyful.
  • My Dad is the wisest person I know. And the most giving. And he blessed me in both of those ways this week.
  • I have several friends right now who are full of sorrow, sick and struggling. I am asking God to keep them on my heart constantly.
  • I am moving to FL in 9 days.
  • Why is moving the most miserable experience on earth?
  • Where did all the anvils go? That one is for you Emmy :)
  • My sister and I watched every episode of The Office over the past 2 weeks. I love that show. I can't believe I'm just now realizing how amazing it is. I love Jim & Pam. And Dwight. And Michael. And Kevin. Oh my goodness, Kevin. He makes me laugh so hard.
  • When will my life slow down a little?
  • When will I finish Harry Potter number 5?
  • What is the name of Harry Potter number 5?
  • Why have I eaten pizza 4 times in the past week?
  • Why do I have a bad back?
  • I will miss the sound of the train that's close to here.
  • I will not miss Houston traffic.
  • I want Ava to love God.
  • Do I really love God? With more than just words?
  • Am I disciplining Ava correctly? Why is it the hardest thing I've ever had to do?
  • When did I start loving Coke Zero more than Diet Dr. Pepper? Am I a traitor?
  • Lost. 9 days.
  • I hate American Idol
  • I want to be an artist.
  • Ava tries to sing the ABC's song and it is about the cutest thing I've ever heard. She makes up her own letters, but she sings the tune pretty much on key. And that LMNOP part...she does that....all fast & together & everything. Ok, I'm gushing, but it's just so darn cute.
  • Ok, one more cute Ava thing. She LOVES it when people sneeze. It makes her belly laugh. And then she yells out "bless you". So cute. Really people. So cute.
  • My brain is tired. Good. Mission accomplished. Good bye.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sold!
We got word yesterday that our counter-offer was accepted, so we have sold our house! I am feeling completely overwhelmed & a little shell shocked, but we are really happy about this. It was only on the market for a week--can you believe that? We showed it 9 times in 6 days. We have really been praying for it to sell this month & God has been so sweetly faithful to us. We need some serious prayer right now though. I'm in Florida for the next several weeks while Matt heads to Ethiopia & Israel. I was supposed to head back to TX on the 28th, but now we have to be out by the 31st (probably, maybe the 1st or 2nd though). So now I will be changing my flight & pretty much handling this move by myself. Matt returns on the 24th, but then has a speaking engagement at a church here in town the 24-26. I can feel the stress levels rising, so please just pray for a clear mind & lots of wisdom in the coming weeks. It's pretty much up to me to find somewhere for us to live & we are still seriously debating back & forth about renting temporarily vs. buying. I'm going house hunting today, so pray for discernment!! I will probably not be blogging much over the next few weeks, but I'll update if anything big happens :) Love to you all!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Oh.My.Goodness!!
We have 3 contracts coming to the table on our house tonight!! I am just shocked about this. I'll update more tomorrow. We are praying for a miracle in the sale of this house, so if you get this--please just pray that we get the money we need to break even. Thanks!!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

My Ava
My friends Aaron & Bush have taken some of the most amazing pictures of Ava in the last few weeks & I've just been dying to show them to you. These pictures are such a gift to me & I will cherish them forever. Thanks guys! The first 4 were by Aaron & the last one is one of many more to come that Bush took in our family picture session the other day. So here she is.....








Lola--the 4th member of our family

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

WE'RE DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I only have like 3.8 seconds to write this post, but I just had to document this historic day (at least for our family!!) I just got back from overnighting our adoption paperwork to our Adoption Agency. I can't tell you how relieved, excited, and anxious (for it to make it to them!) I am. What a huge milestone for us! As the ticker on my website lets me know, we've been working on this paperwork now for 10 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. Praise the Lord we're finally finished. Now it will be translated, sent to the OPA (Officina para adopciones) in El Salvador. Next we will wait on approval from them. This is taking about 8 months on average. At that point we will wait for our referral (our chosen daughter--her picture, medical background, etc) and then we'll travel to El Salvador to pick her up. From today we're looking at a 12-18 month wait. Please pray, pray, pray that that package makes it up to Virginia by tomorrow morning. Here are some pictures of my excitement. At the beginning of this journey I had this grand vision of finishing our paperwork (in more like 4-5 months, but whatever :) and then going as a family to fedex. We would have the postal worker take our picture with the package & then go get ice cream or something to celebrate. Here's how it really went down. Matt & I tried to work out our schedules for 3 days to be able to go at the same time & realized it just wasn't going to happen. So then I was going to take our picture together as a family before leaving this morning. But then Matt got sick. Super sick. Like--you better get that camera out of my face right now sick. So then I tried to get a picture with Ava & I smiling & holding our dossier. Well, my camera battery was dead. So then it's off to the camera phone. I put Ava on my lap & she throws a complete tantrum. So in the end.....it's just me & my MOUND of paperwork. But I'm smiling & oh so happy anyways b/c it's done & we're finally moving closer to Bella! Love you all :)





Friday, December 14, 2007

In Case You Haven't Heard.....
I figure that it's about time to tell all of you what's been going on with our family. There is some major change in the air!! This past summer we began feeling like God was preparing us for a change--a shift in what we are doing. We had no idea what that meant or what it looked like, but we began praying that God would reveal His plans to us. As most of you know, in July, Matt took a group of students to China with a ministry called Innovative Mission Opportunities that is based here in Houston. Matt had such a wonderful time & came back saying that this was how he wanted to spend his life--doing missions with students. Well, I've always felt that way, so I was super excited that God has been shifting Matt's passion towards missions. Over the course of the trip & since being home, Matt has developed a great friendship with Jerry (the guy who started the ministry--he's about 65 years old). Anyways, Jerry offered Matt a job with Innovative back in early September. Jerry was so impressed with the way that Matt led & executed the trip to China & wants Matt to develop a student "arm" of the ministry. In the past, they have only worked with adults, but they're really wanting to broaden things. What Innovative does is send small groups of people into the 10-40 window (northern africa, middle east, asia) to work with local believers. They go in as "humanitarians" to meet the physical needs of the people--water, food, building homes, etc--and in the process share the gospel with them. So Matt would be in charge of developing a student side of things. His main focus would be Northern Africa (mainly Ethiopia), Israel and China. He will be working with student & college ministries here in the states, to find students to go on trips. He will be taking about 6-8, 2 week trips a year into those countries. When he's not overseas, he will take back up his traveling speaking ministry that he had prior to joining with Sagemont in order to use his gift as a teacher & to network with college/student ministries. We have been praying about this for several months now & feel so strongly that this is what we're supposed to do. Innovative is wanting to branch out their ministry, so we will be moving to Tampa (to live near my family) after the first of 2008. When we began praying through this, our original plan was to stay here in Houston, b/c Innovative is based here. But as we began to realize Matt's traveling schedule was going to be so busy, I told Matt that if we're going to do this, I really want to be close to my family. That way I will have lots of support while he is away & I will be able to travel some with Matt while Ava stays with family. I have prayed for 10 years that God would allow us to move back to Florida but I just really never thought it was going to happen for us. Moving to FL is like the icing on the cake for me. We are so excited about this new opportunity & feel such a complete peace about everything. We really need your prayer in the next several months. Here are some things for you to pray about:

1. Our transition out of Sagemont--pray that people are excited & supportive about our decision. Pray for the students as we leave them behind. We announced our plans to the students last Sunday. It was a very difficult & emotional day, but overall, everyone is really excited for us.

2. Pray for our finances. Part of Innovative is that all staff members are 100% support based (like missionaries) so that they can send as much money as possible to the people living in extreme poverty in the 10-40 window. We are kind of freaking out about this, but at the same time have such a peace. Innovative will help us financially for the first year so that we're not just cut off cold upon leaving Sagemont. Still, we have a lot of expenses with moving, finding a new house, selling our home here, etc. Just pray for God's mighty provision for our family during the coming months.

3. Pray for house stuff in general. We were going to put our house on the market yesterday & our realtor told us that she knows a family that is desperately trying to buy a house. They can't get a loan yet (they need to raise their credit by a couple of points & are estimating that to happen in the next 3-6 months). We are talking to them about renting & then buying the house sometime between April & June. We have so many details to work out with this. On our initial figures with our house we were slated to lose $11,000, which as you can probably guess we most definitely don't have. So we were freaking out. This way our mortgage will be covered & we will only (only....what am I saying??) be losing about $5,500. We're definitely going to take a hit b/c we haven't lived her long enough to recoop our costs, so we are trying to figure out how to lose the least amount possible. We met the family last night & really liked them. They come VERY highly recommended & they LOVED our house & want to buy it so badly. SO...pray that all of this works out. Did I mention they need to move in by Jan 7???? That means that we need to be packed up & ready to move by the 5th or 6th & have somewhere to move to. So, we talked to our realtor in FL tonight & I think we're going to rent a cute little townhouse in a great neighborhood (Fishhawk to you Tampa people)for 6 months to a year so we can get our finances in order. Ok--this has all happened in the last 2 days & we have SO MUCH to do/think about/finalize/take care of. Please just pray for all these things!!

I'm sure there's more, but for now--I think that's good. Thanks for praying--I can't wait to tell you more in the days & months to come! We've had to keep this quiet, b/c there are a lot of people involved at Sagemont & it's been killing me not to tell you guys this HUGE thing that GOd is doing in our lives. You can check out Innovative's website at
www.imoi.org. So now the cat's out of the bag & we can move on. You will be hearing much more in coming days :) Love you all!!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Most Exciting Post EVER!
Are you ready for some exciting reading? Prepare to be amazed.

  • I fed my child taco bell today. And I don't even feel guilty.
  • I just chopped off my arm at fedex to send 3 documents for state certification for our adoption. I am now bleeding profusely all over the place. Ok, so not really, but it felt that painful to pay that much money. My visa looks very tired now.
  • We have 5 Christmas parties this week. That means we are extra poor from all the $10 gift exchange gifts we have to buy.
  • My sister is coming to see me tomorrow!!!!! She has never been to see my house & I am super excited to have her here! My Dad surpised us with a ticket for her. Yeah Hooray! (That's what Ava & I say when we're super excited!)
  • I redid my banner on my blog. If you are reading this on bloglines---go to my blog to check it out. I learned how to make this from my friend Virginia. You can learn how to also at Snapfish.com
  • My Mom is having a lot of complications from all the medicine she's taking. Please pray for her. She's develeped neurapothy (sp??) in her hands & feet. She is in a lot of pain & is extremely frustrated from not being able to do much right now. Please just pray, pray, pray that the doctors can figure out what is wrong & how to fix it. Thanks for praying.
  • I painted Ava's bathroom yesterday and can't for the life of me get the paint off of me.
  • I think about Bella all the time.
  • Ava is learning to say "I love you" and it is about the sweetest thing of all time. I'm really not kidding. I melt into a mushy little puddle of love every time I hear it.
  • Matt is super busy & I miss him. But next week is much slower & we can't wait to hang out! We're hoping to go see the movie Bella in the theater if it's still there.
  • We have wonderful friends.
  • Thanks for reading this. You are super cool. I'm addicted to the word super today. Have a super day you super cool friend :)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dear Bella,
I just wanted to let you know that I think about you all the time. I love you more every day with this love that is just unexplainable, except to say that it comes straight from God. You are mine in every way already. You have occupied our hearts. You have occupied our home with all the little reminders we have out about you. You are in our dialogues. You are in my dreams. That's where I see you the most. You are still faceless, but I know that it's you because when I see you my heart does flips! Sometimes I lay awake thinking about you and I almost feel like you're haunting me. I know that's not the right word, but I can't think of a better way to put it. I wonder if you're born yet. I wonder if you're still in your birthmommy's tummy. Is she a teenage girl? I read yesterday that almost 30% of pregnancies in El Salvador are with girls under 19. I wish I could just hug your birthmom & tell her that everything is going to be ok. I wonder if you have not even been conceived yet. If you've entered our world, where are you living? Are you lonely? Are you cold? Hungry? Does anyone kiss you goodnight? I wish that I could meet all of your needs. It kills me to not be with you right now. Every night, Daddy and I pray for you with Ava. We pray that God puts 10,000 angels around you. We pray that God holds you so close in the palm of His hand. We pray that He sings over you, wherever you are, as you sleep. We pray that He is building HOPE into your tiny little heart. Hope for a Savior who will love you above all else. Hope for a family that you can call your own. Hope for a future. You grow more in my heart every day--just like a baby would grow in my belly. I am so proud to be your Mom! Ava is learning to say your name, although it usually comes out more like "Bubba". But that's ok--we know what she means. Everytime she sees a heart she says "Bubba" because we're teaching her that that's where you are--in our hearts. She has a shirt with hearts all over it & she always wears it so proudly--it's like she knows it's Bella's shirt. We're on our way, baby girl, so hold on, ok? We will be done with our paperwork tomorrow. What joy I have in my heart as I write those words. It's taken us so much longer than we had hoped, but tomorrow, we will be done. We're driving to Austin to get our final document and to begin our apostilling process. In the next 2 weeks we will hopefully be submitting our dossier. And then we will just have to wait, to hope, to work and prepare for your homecoming. And as soon as God sees fit--when you're ready, and we're ready--we'll be coming for you. So don't lose hope. We're on our way as fast as we can! But for now, just know that we love you completely. You are ours. You belong, my dear, sweet, Bella!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving (to those of you who are still awake!!)

I was hoping to write this post much sooner today, but things got busy with family & here it is almost 11:00 & I'm about to drop from my turkey comma. I just wanted to share some things that make my heart overflow with thankfulness today:

1. My growing relationship with Jesus. I've had a very stagnant couple of years (my fault of course) and I feel like this year, in the midst of so much pain, God is quietly & slowly drawing me back to His heart. I am excited about His Word again. I am excited that He is teaching me how to really, actually walk in the Spirit every day. I'm thankful for His compassions that never fail & are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!

2. I'm thankful for my Matt. We just fit each other so perfectly. I'm realizing that even on the very worst & most difficult days, he is God's sweetest gift to me. I love him so much.

3. I'm thankful for my Ava. I just can't even explain what it's like to look into the eyes of your daughter. It is beautiful and scary & breathtaking all at the same time. She is the joy of my days & I absolutely love her more every day.

4. I'm thankful for a God who heals. I can't even tell you the change in my Mom since my last visit. She's definitely not back to normal & she is still dealing with major problems in her hands & feet, but WOW! She is a different person. Her joy, energy & spirit have been changed 180 degrees. I'm thankful that we got to get pedicures & eat lunch out at a restaurant the other day. I will NEVER forget that day!

5. I'm thankful for my family. They love, support, help & encourage me so much. I have parents who love each other & a sister who is my best friend. I know how rare this is & I don't take it for granted.

6. I'm thankful that God has opened my heart & poured love into it for a little orphan girl named Bella. My love for her grows more every day. I am consumed with her & with getting her home. I'm thankful for her birth family & the amazing sacrifice they are making out of love for their daughter. I'm thankful that God has provided $12,000 in adoption money in the last 11 months. Can you even believe that??? $12,000!! He is the God who provides! Only $4,000 more to go! I'm thankful for my sister who has sacrificed so much time, money and skin on her fingers to make us blankets for Bella. Because of her, we have made almost $2600 for Bella. Thank you Emily! (ps...they make great Christmas gifts :) Go check them out at HERE.

7. I'm thankful that God is awakening in me such a heart for the nations. He has widened my view of the world & I cannot wait to see where that takes us!

8. I'm thankful for the chiropractor who has been treating me for free for almost 3 months now. I am a new person & my health has improved dramatically. I will never be able to thank or repay him, so I'm praying that God pours out abundant blessings on him & his family.

9. I'm thankful that God is changing our view of money. He is calling us to live debt free. This is not easy, but I'm so grateful that He is convicting us about our stewardship of the finances He has entrusted to us.

10. I'm thankful for how hard Matt works so that I can stay home with Ava. I know that sometimes it doesn't seem that I am grateful, but I know that this is the greatest gift & his way of showing me love. Thanks for working so hard for our family, Matt!

11. And last, but most definitely not least, I am so thankful for my friends. God has placed the most beautiful, unique and godly women in my life. They challenge me, pray for me, let me be me and love me. I could not have made it through this last year if they had not been walking in my life. So to those friends--I love you!

I hope that your Thanksgiving has been sweet! I send my love!

Monday, November 19, 2007

My Happy Place

I'm in Florida!! Yeah!! More to come :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bedhead
I have so much to say, and not much time to say it right now, so stay tuned next week for a good long post. We're headed to FL on Monday to spend Thanksgiving with my family. For now, here are some pictures of Ava's crazy bedhead after her nap the other day. She usually wakes up so happy & cheerful--I have no idea where she got that! Just ignore the mismatched clothes :) I have a super cute video of this that I've been trying to post all day & can't seem to get it to work. Anyways, here are the pictures for now....stay tuned for more!






Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Halloween 2007

I know I'm a little late on this one, but better late than never I suppose! There are a ton of pictures, so I apologize--the Grandma's & Auntie have been dying to see these. If you don't want to sit through the whole slide show you can just click on "view all images". So here they are!!


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My Journey Through the Valley

I know, I know. I've been terrible at blogging lately. I've had so many thoughts on my heart, but I just haven't been able to formulate them into words. How do you share with people the journey that you are walking to the point that they really get it? I wish I were a more eloquent writer or a deeper philosopher or an animated storyteller, but I am not. Yet, in the depths of my soul I feel this need to tell you about the journey I have walked this year. It has been the most difficult year so far in my short life-time. Not difficult meaning just hard. Difficult meaning laborious, meaning full of strain & emotion. Difficult meaning overwhelming. I have been on a journey through the valley of the shadow of death. I have read Psalm 23 pretty much my whole life. If I was on Jeopordy & $10,000 was at stake, I could probably even recite it to you. I know the imagery of Christ as our Shepherd. I have pictured Him leading me by quiet waters & restoring my soul. I saw the beauty in that & I have found great comfort in those words for many years. But I have never, ever walked through this valley of the shadow of death. Until this year. In December, we found out that my Mom had breast cancer. Again. This really shook me to my core. She had already beat this horrible disease. She was invincible. Wasn't she? Again, God? Really? But we got through it. We were the ones in the waiting room that got the good news. We rejoiced in the doctor's words that they had gotten all the cancer. Life could go on for us. It would be a difficult recovery, but she would be ok. That is what a child needs to know. That their parents are ok. Those two little letters hold an ocean of meaning, don't they? And then came April. Then came the darkness. Then came the entrance into this dark valley. What pain I felt as I listened to my Dad talk about ovarian cancer. Talk to us with a strained voice about 10% chance of a cure. What does that mean? Is she going to die? Will we fight this for the rest of her life? Will this be my last Christmas with my Mom? Will she meet my sweet Bella from El Salvador? How many more phone calls will I have. How many more visits? Kisses & hugs? Will I be OK? We got through the surgery & I spent a month in Florida watching my Mom struggle with the pain; with the questions. With trying to show all of us that it will, in fact, be ok. I spent the next several months on airplanes back & forth from Houston to Florida. Back & forth--my heart split in two between the two places I wanted to be. But there was only one of me & I have to tell you, that that part of things--the split of my heart, was one of the most agonizing aspects of this whole thing. How do you live with a heart split in two? I watched her hair fall out. I watched her strength deplete. I watched her color wain. I watched her struggle with unbearable pain. But most of all I watched her spirit. I watched her faith. I watched her hope. I watched her passion and love for our sweet Shepherd who was guiding us all. Those things did not falter. She may think that they did, but they did not. They remained steady. Day by day, step by step through this valley. Creeping closer & closer to the edge of the shadow. Death. One Sunday morning I was driving to church listening to an old Hillsongs cd from college. "Let the weak say I am strong. Let the poor say I am rich. Let the blind say I can see. It's what the Lord's done in me. Hosanna to the Lamb that was slain." In those moments, in that car God whispered to the deepest deep of my soul & told me that my Mom was going to die. I needed to prepare myself. I could hardly breathe. The weight of these words cut me like the sharpest knife on earth. It shook me & I fell apart. And yet at the same exact moment that these words came, a peace, triumphant & strong came riding in & caught me up and held me close. I cannot explain to you the worship I experienced in that moment. I was undone. And yet, I had peace that could not be expressed or explained. My shepherd had swept in to lead me beside quiet waters. He quieted me with His love. He restored my soul. He promised me grace for the moment. So I kept walking. Day after day, step after step. Whatever happens, I will be ok. My Mom will be ok. My Dad & sister will be ok. We are going to get through this. And then we get the news. The cancer is GONE. Gone! What joy flooded my soul. I sobbed on the phone with my Mom. I couldn't hold it in any longer. My God, my sweet Shepherd had shown His mercy to my family. His stripes on the cross had healed my Mom. Oh what grace--what beauty! He had carried us through the valley. He had given peace to my tortured soul. He had shown me that even if my Mom does not survive this, His grace will be sufficient for my every moment. He allowed me to walk through that valley to draw me closer to His side. He walked me through that valley to close up the valley I had created in my heart--a chasm separating me from intimacy with my Heavenly Father. He whispered words of death to create a life inside of my tired heart. What a Savior. What a Shepherd. What grace. What tender, beautiful grace. He has healed my Mom's body. He has healed my soul. He has lead me through this valley to rivers of joy! And that's not the end. He can do this for you! He can restore. He can quiet you with His love. He can give peace where there is no peace. He longs to lead you to the rivers of joy. But you will have to walk through the valley. That is the only path--the only route to those streams. Walk with Him. Trust Him. Oh what joy awaits you!!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

What I Am Thinking About Right Now

**NOTE**While to the untrained eye this might look like just a plain old Rachel's Random Bullet Point post, it is actually much much different. Ok, not really, but I was hoping to mix it up a little bit.

  • I can't believe that my Mom's cancer is gone. I still feel like I'm in shock over this & it bothers me that I prayed & prayed for her healing, but now that God has answered my prayers I'm having a hard time believing it's real. Why do I doubt? I am overjoyed by this news & can't wait to see my family at Thanksgiving. I think that for the first time we will truly be able to properly celebrate this year!
  • Why don't colds just go away after a day? Why do they linger FOREVER? I've been at home sick since Monday. Yuck not fun.
  • Why can't I discipline myself to lose my last 13 pounds? I just can't get past this plateau.
  • Ok, well actually I know the answer to that one: chips & salsa + new natural salt & cracked pepper popcorn.
  • Why do I love to eat? Why can't I just like it like the normal person?
  • Why is it that the final thing that we have to do on our dossier list for our adoption has turned into 6 smaller muy expensive items?
  • I love my husband more today than I did last week.
  • When can I start listening to Christmas music & not be labeled a freak?
  • I think it's the cutest thing in the world that Ava has fallen in love with her 2 little twin baby dolls. She takes care of them ALL day. She puts on their diapers (and takes them off & puts them on & takes them off & puts them on.......), gives them cheerios & milk, pushes them in their stroller, pats them on the back, kisses their faces (well, licks them actually), covers them with a blanket. How did she learn all those things? And why is it so darn cute??
  • Why don't bathrooms clean themselves?
  • I think that reading a book is the greatest escape. I think that you become smarter as you read. I love that I love to read. I'm so glad my parents built that into me at a very young age. I just finished Harry Potter #4. So good. Now I'm reading "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer. It's about a little 9 year old genius who lost his Dad in 9-11 & thinks that his Dad left him all these clues around the city. It's very cool. Did you read James Joyce in High School? If so, you are smarter. Anyways, this book reminds me of a very modern, fun, hip version of James Joyce. Stream of conciousness my dears.
  • Ava's favorite book is "They Eye Book" by Theodore LeSeig. That is actually Dr. Suess. His name was Theodore Giesel, but when he wrote children's books as himself & not Dr. Suess, he turned his name backwards & became Theodore LeSeig. I think that man had identity issues.
  • I bought some new cute shoes to replace my old cute shoes that got a huge giant rip in them. But all I ever want to wear are the old cute shoes. Apparently I don't like change. Unless it's something that is changing into something I like more.
  • Will we live in Houston Texas forever?
  • Will I be happy forever if we live in Houston Texas forever?
  • Would Jane Austen & I be friends if she was still alive & living next door to me in Houston Texas?
  • Sometimes I feel afraid to walk to the mailbox in the middle of the sunshiny day. I'm afraid that a bad guy will kidnap me or that gangsters will raid my house while I'm gone.
  • I think that I have a serious problem as a conspiracy theorist.
  • Why am I afraid of so many stupid things?
  • Do I exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in my life?
  • Does my husband know that I love him more this week than last week?
  • Does God ever tire of being patient with me?
  • I think that's all I'm thinking at the moment. Good bye.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Rejoicing!!!

Hey friends! It is with great joy (& complete shock!!) that I am writing this post! My Mom's cancer is GONE!!! My mind is just spinning, so I hope this all comes out coherently :) My Mom just called to let me know that the CT Scan came back clear. The doctor found nothing on the scan! Her cancer cell count is down from over 900 after surgery in April to 15. She asked the doctor what a normal woman who doesn't have ovarian cancer would test as & he said between zero & 30, so she is in the "no cancer" zone. We are all just in tears of great joy. We cried together on the phone just praising our Jehovah Raphah--our God who heals. I absolutely know that this is a direct result of your prayers. So thank you so deeply for carrying my family to our Father. May He receive glory from this!
The next step is to remove her port through a minor surgery on October 8th. Once it is removed the doctor will send a scope down through her system to do a double check to make sure he doesn't find anything. If he does, he will open her up at the time & remove any remnants of the tumor. So we are not completely out of the clear yet, but everything looks amazing. Please join us in praying for clear results during this next test. The doctor said that many patients in her position will continue for several years/the rest of their lives to continue undergoing chemo every six months or so to keep their systems clear. My parents have yet to decide about this, but there is time for such decisions to be made.
What joy we have today! "Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits--who forgives your sins and heals your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things......." (Psalm 103:1-5) Thank you for walking through all of this with me. I will update everyone after her surgery on the 8th. I hope that you can find joy in knowing that God used you greatly in my life during these last few months. God bless you all!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

She's Good for my Soul.....
































Sunday, September 23, 2007

I'm at a Place Called Vertigo

Hey friends. No I'm not obsessed with U2. Ok, well, maybe I am, but that's not what this post is about. I'm actually really at a place called vertigo. For those of you that may not know, I have been very sick during the last 2 months & have been undergoing all kinds of medical tests. I have been to the doctor more during the last 2 months than in the last 5 years combined. I'm having major major stomach problems (cramping, nausea, soreness & tenderness in my lower abdomen, etc...). So far I've had tons of bloodwork, an ultrasound & a stool sample test. Everything has come back normal, but I'm still having a lot of pain. I'm still waiting on my most recent round of bloodwork, so we'll see what that says. So I've been referrred to a GI doctor & I'm hoping to get in soon. On top of all that over the last 2 weeks I've become extremely dizzy and everything is spinning. I'm having severe fatigue & I just all around don't feel good. So....I went back to the doctor on Thursday & was diagnosed with vertigo. She removed (sorry this is gross) a HUGE clump of wax that was pushing against my inner ear & told me to take a few days to see if it helped things. It did--temporarily & now I'm feeling bad again. So now they're trying to figure out if my 2 problems are linked or are 2 separate things. So far, here are some possible diagnosis:
1. thyroid problems
2. all of this is stress
3. crohn's or ulcerative colitis
4. IBS
5. problems with my sinuses & inner ear
6. major anemia
7. possible problems in my reproductive organs
So now I've been told to go see the GI doctor & an OB/Gyn to get more tests run. I'm just ready to feel better. I'm so tired & dizzy/nauseous, crampy all the time lately. All that feels good is lying on the couch, but as you can imagine, that doesn't really work with a toddler. So please pray for me as it seems that I still have a lot more testing to undergo. I'm going to see a chiropractor tomorrow (free of charge--as a gift!!) b/c on top of all this other stuff, my back is completely out of whack & is hurting worse than it's hurt in about 4 years. SO......fun stuff. I'm pretty sure the back is all from stress--I carry my stress in my shoulders, neck & upper back.

Sorry this is all such bad news--I feel like Debby Downer lately. The overwhelming majority of stuff in our lives right now is pretty heavy & difficult. I'm really longer for better days. My entire family is just worn. Please continue to pray for all of us.

On the adoption front....you guessed it.....more not so great news. We found out that several things we've completed for our dossier were incorrect & have to be redone, so we're looking at more money & more time. I've been so frustrated with this lately. I am honestly wondering if we will ever meet our daughter. I know that's stupid, but I feel like we just can't get it together. I'm so depressed everytime I see that ticker at the top on my blog saying how long we've been waiting for Bella. I don't want to take it down b/c it's keeping me working, but I can't believe it's been almost 8 months!! We need some serious miracles right now--money, things to push through & get completed, open doors. I just wish that this one thing could come together & work out for us....I really need that right now.

Oh, and did I mention that Matt will be out of town all week?

Ok, I think that's it. I'm sorry to complain & to be so down. The pain & stress of everything difficult in my life just gets to me some days. Today is one of those days. On a happier note--2 beautiful pictures. The first of my Mom & Ava & the second--a new picture of Ava. Enjoy :)