Monday, October 31, 2011

halloween bash, preschool style...

Me: So, Caroline, what do you want to be for Halloween this year?
Her: A princess!
Me: (that's easy enough. We've got plenty of dress up costumes already for THAT one! Call me cheap. Call me no fun. But I'll call it resourceful and frugal.) :) Okay, well, we can pick out your favorite princess dress and wear a princess hat with it!
Her: And I want princess hair.
Me: You do?
Her: Yes. I want some princess hair.
Me: Well okay. I think we can make that happen.

And 15 wig attempts and $20 later...

waalah! "Yellow" princess hair. (he he! Doesn't look right anymore, does it?) :) And now she's ready for her first big preschool bash.

Enter Mommy & Daddy, who yes, are those parents. Pathetically, we had no great costumes, but we weren't about to just be NORMAL!! So why not throw on a couple of chef hats & aprons just because we CAN?! (and not only did we show up to the school like this, but yep- we went around town like this, too. We have no shame, can't you tell? We're used to getting stared at.)

AND these gals were ready to party!! (did ya notice we got our faces painted, too?)

At the parade through the school, Caroline wanted to be the caboose.

Then the class lined up and performed the Halloween songs they had been learning.

Time to EAT! A plate filled with... SUGAR, of course!!! Oh my goodness, today's sugar intake was unprecedented. Had I eaten all of that, I think I would be experiencing a sudden onset of diabetes right about now...

What a great Halloween party! Thank you, Mrs. Paige and Mrs. Q!!
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

this is my father's world...

I'm so proud of our church's first ever children's choir! They did a great job today! (especially the cute little gal on the front row... but of course, I'm bias!)

Friday, October 28, 2011

short but sweet...

Traveled to Raleigh to visit my (Amy's) grandparents and extended family while my dad (aka "Pop") was in town for a visit.

Thankful for precious times together. Short, but sweet.
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Monday, October 24, 2011

help us adopt!...

As I (Amy) mentioned in an earlier post, Marc and I had some great conversations a few weeks ago on our beach getaway, and as a result of those conversations we are now pursuing another adoption!

Here's the deal... when most couples decide they want to have a baby, they get the option of keeping it a secret, and then upon getting pregnant, it's up to THEM as to how & when to let the world know, right?

Well, when you're infertile like in OUR case, you can't exactly do that! There's no keeping secrets. And you know why?

Because we need HELP!
From YOU! (yes, you!)

Wow. Can I just say it's quite a faith-producing endeavor to pray for a baby, but have no idea where this baby might come from?!

So here's the process & then I'll tell you guys how you can help...

We are currently beginning the mounds of paperwork to become qualified to adopt in the state (or Commonwealth, I should say) of Virginia. We will be completing a home study with a local agency here in town in the next few months. At that point, we will be "certified" to adopt, so if a situation arises, we can move forward.

Right now our plan is to put our name on this local agency's list of potential adoptive parents. Sounds promising, right? Well, not so fast. It's a small agency, and because they only do an average of 8 placements a year, they are honest about encouraging couples to continue to seek other ways of finding a baby to adopt. (and for various reasons, our current convictions are leading us away from signing up with some of the bigger "brand name" adoption agencies out there.) With this small agency, we would not even be shown to any potential birthmoms until mid-March after attending a mandatory adoption training, either.

All that to say, we can't put all of our eggs in this one basket. So we need your help to get the word out.

Many of you know that the way we met Caroline's birthmother, Megan, was because Megan attended church with my parents in Dallas. When she found out she was pregnant and didn't know how she would be able to care for a 2nd child, it was the people at her church who told Megan about us and encouraged her to meet us. She reluctantly agreed to the meeting, because at that time she was still planning to parent this baby. We met her for lunch and had a good time just getting to know her, but since she wasn't thinking adoption at that point, we walked away thinking it would never happen.

My, how God works. (right, Megan?)

The rest of the story was like a fairy tale. We not only gained a daughter, but another extended family was now joined to ours! And thankfully Caroline knows Megan and her family, and there are NO secrets, NO hiding, NO mysteries about where she came from or why God gave her to our family. And there's no wondering for Megan, either! Open adoption is beautiful!

So we are praying it will happen again. (can it ever be that perfect a second time, though?)

We are excited and of course, a little nervous, to go through this process again. I just keep wondering, How? Where is this baby going to come from, God? I want another birthmommy just as wonderful as Megan was/is. Who will the Lord bring into our life to love again?

Here's how y'all can help...

If every one of YOU could keep your eyes and ears open for those unplanned pregnancies around you, because the Lord can turn a crisis into an amazing blessing. We have seen it with our own eyes. The greatest gift of our life came from a girl we probably would have never met. A girl who went from being a stranger to a hero in a matter of months.

So would you each join us in praying for a second baby to adopt? Pray that we would keep trusting in God's timing, and that He would bring us just the right birthmom and just the right baby to love.

And if you do hear about a potential adoption situation, would you let us know? Or perhaps tell the birthmom about us? You are, of course, welcome to point her to this blog, too.

We'll keep you guys posted as our story continues!...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

what a difference... year makes!

The gals last year at the pumpkin patch:

And this year:

Two years ago:

Last year:

This year:

Last year's slide:

(um, not so good.) Does it go without saying we didn't slide any more after this time?

This year:

Slide after slide after slide after slide!

And we conquered EVERY bouncy blow-up thing there was!

Ahhh, we love the fall here!

Every year. :)

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Thursday, October 20, 2011


Well, all of this DID amount to something...

As of this past week, my daughter has begun reading her first simple books! (and I don't mean memorizing... I mean reading a page in a book that she's never seen before!) At 3 1/2... yikes this girl is so stinkin' smart.

She's been putting together letters & sounding them out in the tub for a year now, and last month I started writing out simple sentences with 3 letter words in them for her to read to me-- "The cat ate the dog" and so forth. Well, that quickly turned into "Mommy, what word is this? Mommy, what does this spell?" at every little word she sees. And when I noticed her eyes watching the words in books more than she was looking at the pictures & trying to sound out the words she hears, I could just see her little brain at work!

So right now in this beginning stage of reading she recognizes several basic words, and then she can figure out some words just by sounding out the first letter. Our librarian showed us a few good series/authors of books at this stage-- this one is Caroline's favorite to read this week. It just cracks her up so much.

What an amazing thing to watch this process in a child!-- from a helpless little baby in my arms to a walking, talking toddler and now to the beginnings of a reading little girl! I am utterly amazed as I watch her hungry to learn.

And as her mommy, I'm soooo proud of her! (Forgive me for bragging.)

And I know, I know. I'm also in big trouble, too! :)

p.s. Happy Birthday, Pop! We love you!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011


A couple of weeks ago over Fall Break, we were fortunate to take a getaway to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. Half of our time was just Marc & I while Caroline had a BLAST at Nanny & Papa's house, and for the rest of our time, we had the whole fam together.

I can't even put into words how wonderful it was to put on the brakes in the middle of our hectic semester and just STOP. Part of me thinks that since there is a very blurry line between what is work time & what is family time when you're in ministry, it usually means getting out of town for us to unwind and really relax. (It could also be that we're workaholics, too, and if we're around the house, we're gonna be doing work...)

In the busyness of the semester, I just don't feel like there's been much time to think or reflect. Even slowing down to pray is a struggle. And if this getaway hadn't been on our calendar, we never would have done it. There would be too many things going on around us that had to get done. (Or else it always feels that way, right?)

In getting away, I just love reconnecting with my heart, my thoughts, & my husband. I spend so much time feeling fragmented and in task mode that it feels impossible to just stop the madness and rest. Or think. Or feel. Or remember. Or be thankful. But in reconnecting, I'm able to remember who I am. I'm able to reflect on what I truly love about my life and what I don't. I'm able to have deeper talks with Marc about things like our hopes for the future, our hurts from the past, and where we are in the present.

And what I realized (for me, at least) was that while I long for rest and reflection, it also opens up pain. It means I slow down and have to feel the hurt I usually try to push aside in the hectic.

As Marc and I took a walk along the beach one day, I noticed a little girl (probably age 8 or 9) with long, gorgeous, flowy dark hair playing in the sand. I never even saw her face because she was so focused on the sand as her hair waved beautifully in the wind.

And just as the waves crashed upon the shore, I felt a wave of pain and grief wash over my heart in that moment. My daughter won't ever look like that. My daughter had beautiful brown hair, and it's gone. Again, there just aren't words to explain how terribly frightening, devastating, and awful that whole process was as we had no idea what was happening to our daughter. Thankfully God brought us through that and we are much more in a place of acceptance than we were initially.

But just as the sea is sometimes calm and still, and sometimes it rages so intense, that is my heart when it comes to alopecia. With this new, unexpected world of alopecia, I had to die to alot of natural expectations that any mother would have of their daughter. And now, I am still called to a daily life of humility in this. Here's what I mean...

When Marc & I were alone for our time on the island, we were barely noticed. I didn't really notice the difference until the first time we were out with Caroline again and it came back.

The stares.
The questions.
The reactions.

When your daughter is mistaken by everyone for a cancer patient when she's perfectly healthy, it can be wearisome to even go out in public sometimes. I hear the whispers behind us-- "but she's got so much energy..." (Now hear me out-- most days I kinda enjoy the challenge of confusing people with a bald, but rambuctious, child!)

As Caroline was like a mad-woman energetically throwing herself into the waves of the ocean, a woman and her high school son approached Marc & I on the beach one afternoon.

"Excuse me, but I was wondering what your daughter's condition is?"

As usual, I gave my 5 second shpeel--- "Yeah, she has alopecia, which is an autoimmune condition where her body rejects her hair, but she's otherwise healthy."

I could tell my words didn't matter or convince her otherwise. I hate that. In people's mind, they look at my daughter and assume something is really wrong.

She says, "Well, I don't know where you guys stand, but would you mind if I pray for her? I had diabetes and the Lord completely cured me from it 2 years ago, and so I would love to pray for her."

Be my guest, I thought. But we certainly need prayer for a MOUNTAIN of other things before we need some missing hair!!! "Sure, that would be great. Thank you."

So we prayed with this stranger. And it was nice. Sortof. Her words were beautiful and appropriate, and I was touched by her boldness and faith.

But after the "amens" were said and she walked away, I was left alone with my thoughts. And the pangs of emotion rushed over me again. Am I supposed to be thankful for this encounter? Why do I feel somewhat violated by her reaching out to PRAY for me, for crying out loud?! What kind of reaction(s) DO I want from people, anyway? And should we be praying for hair? I know this alopecia is God's plan for our family, and He has used it in so many ways for our good. But it's also not supposed to be this way, either! We're supposed to have hair! Right, God? This is such a crazy thing to process and sometimes I don't even know WHAT to think.

So I'm still in process. I am in the middle of an ocean of God's providence, and sometimes the waves are still and quiet, and sometimes they are rocking me and pulling me under. Why do I find myself shocked at my grief? I guess I want a once-then-done way of handling this. I want the pain to be behind me.

But the truth is-- it comes in waves.

Nevertheless, this ocean I am in has an amazing undercurrent of love:

"O the deep deep love of Jesus
Vast, unmeasured, boundless free
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me.
Underneath me, all around me
Is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To Thy glorious rest above."

Marc and I also had some more good conversations at the beach that I am excited to share with you guys soon! So stay tuned.... :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

we love our job...

We love RUF. We love getting to love on college students and minister the Gospel to them.

It doesn't get any better when we get to enjoy RUF conferences/retreats away together as a group. There is no better time for students to bond and grow close with one another. Time for hiking, for rest, for worship, for good conversation, for bonfires & smores, and for enjoyment.

We love our current group of students. They are a great mix. Many in our group are seniors, so you all need to send us lots of Kleenex around May!!... (that's the downside to this job--- having to say goodbye to these students we come to LOVE!)

And what's even more exciting is that all 5 of our colleges in Lynchburg were represented at our RUF Fall Conference this past weekend! (Liberty, Lynchburg College, Sweet Briar, Randolph College, & Central Virginia Community College)

Usually RUF's are on a particular campus across the country-- RUF at Clemson, RUF at Texas Tech, for example. But only 2 in the country include multiple campuses & are citywide-- New York City and... US!!! Woohoo! (what a comparison, eh? New York City and good 'old Lynchburg, VA! ha!)

Fall Conference is also a VERY fun time for our family because several of the other Virginia RUF campus minister's bring their families, too! So as you can imagine, Caroline was in heaven.

These two can be sooo silly. :)

So can these two. :)

Can I just say I love central Virginia?! And to think this is only 40 minutes away from my house!!

Oh, and speaking of RUF, I realized we haven't shown you guys a photo of our new location! We are still in a renovated warehouse/church towards downtown (it's a central location for all 5 of our schools), but this semester we needed a bigger room to accommodate our growth, so we just switched rooms in the same place. We have about 75-100 students coming each Thursday night (shown above) as Marc has been going through a series called "Gospel Driven Relationships." It's been awesome.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

gotcha day 2011...

Dear Caroline,

Three years ago today we went to the courthouse in Lubbock, Texas, and you legally and officially became ours. We "gotcha!" Welcome to this crazy family! :) And even though we couldn't crack a SINGLE smile out of you that day(!), your Mommy and Daddy couldn't stop beaming with joy.

And three years later, we are still thanking God for His goodness and faithfulness to us in giving you to us. You know, people have told us YOU are so lucky to have us as your parents, but we know the truth. The truth is that we're the lucky ones. By far.

In three years, we have been through so much together, my love. At the courthouse, who knew that in just another year you'd begin a journey towards being bald?! We had no idea what story would be written for us, but whatever it was going to be, we knew we wanted it to be with YOU.

You, our sweet Caroline, are loved more than you'll ever know.
You are loved SO much by your birthmommy Megan, who made the hardest decision of her life in order to give you everything she wanted you to have.
You are loved SO much by your Mommy & Daddy, and we would do anything for you, including a year of super crazy allergy free cooking if it meant you would be helped.
You are loved SO much by all of our families, friends, and church.

But even more than all of our love, Caroline, you are loved by your Father. His love is deeper and wider and bigger than anything we can comprehend.

On this Gotcha Day 2011, I am so thankful to God that I got to take you out on a girls' date for a pink doughnut in the middle of the afternoon!... just because! Forget all the stares and the compliments on your "hairpiece" and the questions about your "treatments" and the amount of times I have to explain that you don't have cancer. It's just going to be something we live with, you know? We'll make it together.

But you know what? If I had the choice between any other kid out there with hair or you? I'd choose YOU every time.

And on a day like Gotcha Day that we are already celebrating God's faithfulness to our family, this wasn't such a bad reminder, either... :)
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

you CAN teach an old gal new tricks...

Check out this cool new trick of mine...

Here's another cool one I surprised Mommy with at the computer today...

At the outset, it may look like just a bunch of jumbled letters, but look a little closer. Check out the top of the screen & you'll see what I typed ON MY OWN and then I read it to Mommy! You can also see at the bottom of the screen, I decided to type out my counting from 1 to 39. (with a mistake or two in there, of course, but seriously? At 3 1/2??)

Today was "Orange Day" at preschool.

But back to the funny stuff...

ha ha!!
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Monday, October 10, 2011

post vacation...

Do you think somebody was a little tired?
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Thursday, October 6, 2011

hilton head in the fall...

I'm at the beach, you guys! Shhhh.... it's the best kept secret EVER to come to the beach at this time of year. The weather is absolutely PERFECT!! It's Fall Break, and we are so grateful for a quick getaway to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

And what a difference just a few months makes! (not just in the weather...)

You see, this summer, I was still a little skittish about going in the water by myself.

But today I was a WILD WOMAN in the water! You should have seen me! I literally threw myself into the sand & rolled around in it with excitement. And when the waves would knock me over, I'd start LAUGHING instead of crying.

Here I am outrunning the waves with Daddy... (can you see how tall I'm growing??)

and jumping so high over them...

Whew! That was a blast. More fun tomorrow!

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