Milo

Michael and I have been praying for a child for six years. For the last two of those years, we have been waiting to adopt a baby. In June we received word that an expectant mother had chosen us to be her baby’s adoptive family. And then in July, on our eighth wedding anniversary, we were told she would be keeping the baby she had delivered that morning. And it was that phone call that ultimately led us to admit defeat. We had done everything in our power to try to build the family we so desperately wanted.

In the weeks after our failed adoption, I felt tired. I didn’t know what else we could do. We had exhausted all of our options. Our contract with our adoption consultant was expiring and we had just lost the only baby we had ever been expecting. My prayers over the years had been a steady stream of requests. I had prayed to be able to conceive, then for fertility treatments to be successful. When my body couldn’t take anymore, I began asking God to give me a heart for adoption. And then prayed that some mama somewhere would choose us to adopt her child. And through it all, God remained silent.

 But it was at this time, after our adoption failed, that I found myself on my knees asking God to help me accept whatever plan He had for our family. It was the first time I truly laid down my desires and my plans and asked that His will be done. At the same time, Michael felt that God was calling us to ask for prayer from our church. There were dozens of people who had been faithfully praying for us for years, but the church leadership had reached out to ask about scheduling a prayer time for us.

On August 23, a group of elders and leaders from the church gathered at our home. They circled around and laid hands on our shoulders and asked God to bring us a child. Five minutes after they left our house, the phone call came. A baby boy had been born that morning in Texas and he needed a family. All we had to do was say ‘yes’. And 48 hours later we were in Austin, Texas meeting our son.

I’ve thought a lot about those five minutes between the end of our prayer session and when we received the call from the adoption agency. I imagine God watching us in those five minutes thinking ‘Just watch what I’m about to do for you’. How excited He must have felt knowing what was in store for us and knowing that it would play out in a way that gives Him all of the glory. And I hope that’s exactly what this story does. I hope that for the rest of my life, when I tell the story of my son, that each listener walks away in awe of God’s goodness and mercy.

These pictures are a snippet of the most beautiful week of my whole life. Our first ten days as a family of three were spent in an unfamiliar city. A friend of a friend connected us to a local church, and through that congregation, God provided a free place for us to stay for our entire time in Texas. People brought us meals and coffee and clothes for our new baby. God met every single one of our needs. And He gave us the most beautiful baby boy. Our miracle Milo.

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At the beach

There’s a longstanding annual tradition in my family of spending a week together at the beach. A whole week away from the routines and obligations of our every day lives where we get to enjoy slow mornings, big meals, and time in the sun. I’m always thankful to get so much time in one of my favorite places with my favorite people.

It’s sometimes hard for me to find a balance between picking up my camera on vacation and putting it down. I can feel torn between capturing the moments and being present for them. I don’t want everyone else’s memories of me to include a camera in front of my face.  So I tried to make an effort this year to play more, to converse more, to enjoy more.

This is a short recap of our vacation. But let’s be honest… this is really just a summary of my nephew’s week at the beach with cameo appearances from the rest of the family.

Nephews

It’s the time of year that does my heart good. The time when the flowers begin to bloom, the temperatures begin to rise, and the daylight spills over into the evening hours. And to get to enjoy the blessings of spring with these two little guys fills me with such great joy!

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California

In some ways, this trip was an escape from the disappointments that hang heavy on our hearts. We entered the year hopeful that this would be the year our family would grow. And as the end of the year drew closer, we felt a growing need to get away. Vacation days had been stored away and the west coast was calling. So we made an uncharacteristically impulsive decision and booked two tickets to San Francisco.

It turns out that the week before Thanksgiving is a great time to find airline deals. It’s also a perfect time to visit the bay area. Fall on the California coast was balm to our tired souls. Walking among the redwoods, driving the pacific coast highway, biking through golden gate park, watching the sunset over the pacific ocean – it was all so restorative.  We had a week to breathe deeply and to disconnect from the heartbreak at home. And it was so so good.

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Waco

My mom wanted to celebrate her birthday with a girl’s trip to Texas. Like every devoted HGTV fan, her heart was set on traveling to Waco to experience Magnolia in all its glory.

Not having ever been to Waco before, it’s hard to imagine that downtown had much life at all before Chip and Jo resurrected the silos. The Magnolia grounds are an oasis in an otherwise sleepy cityscape. While we did enjoy some unique shopping and dining options, much of downtown Waco is empty. It came as quite a surprise to our group who (let’s be honest!) probably expected the whole town to have undergone a ‘fixer upper’ makeover. It seems the Gaines are breathing new life into this town. And it will be interesting to see where that momentum will take Waco.

A day at the silos is definitely worth the trip to Waco. The shopping, the cupcakes, the garden – it’s all been so thoughtfully designed. And it was the perfect spot for a weekend with the girls.

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Childersburg

In 1953, my grandparents moved into this home. It’s the place where they would go on to raise their two children and where they would spend the next 63 years.

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The loss of my grandparents has also meant the loss of this familiar place. Very little was changed here over the years, so stepping inside is a little like going back in time. I had the opportunity to walk through it recently as the packing was being done, and I was flooded with memories in each and every room. Memories of eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on tv trays.  Of summer days in the swimming pool and picking strawberries in Grandmother’s garden. I was reminded of slumber parties in the basement with my cousin and of learning to play corn hole in the backyard.

The house today is tired. It’s dusty and empty and quiet. But in my memory, the house is clean and tidy and full of people. There’s a kaleidoscope on the coffee table and a jar of pretzels on the kitchen counter. There’s a mini fridge full of coca-cola and a garage stuffed with Grandfather’s “treasures”. And that’s the version of the house that I’m going to hold onto.

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*  In loving memory of Richard Joseph Peterson and Marilyn Tanner Peterson *