Peanut Butter Pie

This recipe has been in my husband’s side of the family for years! His mom shared the recipe with me and it’s one of our favorites this time of year!

Whip it up, let it chill and enjoy! I could probably eat 1/2 the pie alone if I’m being honest.

*I always add 2 tablespoons of butter, not teaspoons. The more the merrier when it comes to butter, y’all.

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Adoption Story & Update via Story Cast!

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I sat down with my friend & cohost Rebecca Renfrow on our podcast, Story Cast, and she interviewed me regarding our adoption story thus far. It is still being written and we are excited to see where this next step leads. Listen in for the latest & our new update on the journey. Thanks again to all of those who keep on praying for our Levi. Your prayers & encouragement are never taken for granted & very much appreciated!

LISTEN HERE

 

Baby Dixon Adoption Story: Part 9

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Our bags have been packed. The nursery is all ready. All Miles’ baby clothes have been washed and put away for his tiny baby brother. A bag is packed for Levi with a few newborn outfits, a swaddle blanket and some diapers. Placed that bag & the infant car seat close to the door so it was ready to roll. We’ve upgraded both our vehicles to fit 2 rear facing baby seats and 2 pre-teens and all the luggage that our crazy life brings. Our plan with Grandma all set for her to watch the kiddos when the time came. We are prepared. Ready on every level to welcome our Levi. Just waiting for the call.

We did get a call, just not the one we anticipated…

“Traci, she’s not responding to our calls and texts. Will you try to reach out to her and see if you can get her to respond?”

I tried, she didn’t. This was over a week ago. The agency has been trying nonstop since then to call, leave notes, stop by her apartment, talk to family, call the hospitals to check there…nothing. She has disconnected herself from us and the agency…totally unexpected and we have no clue why. Birth mom: AWOL.

At this point, it appears as though she has changed her mind? However, the last sonogram did reveal that the due date may be closer to mid-August…so there’s still a small chance we could possibly hear from her when she delivers baby boy. But as of today, it’s not looking very likely that this baby boy was “our Levi” and we may end up walking this beaten road again. The agency is shocked. With tears and a shaken voice, the last call I received from them was “we are so sorry, we just can’t believe it.”

We are heartbroken.

Devastated, angry and so confused, this has been a week of feeling all these emotions again. No way! No way this can be happening again. With no answers as to why or what in the world happened. Lord, have we not been faithful? Where are you in this? From excitement last week to sadness, this. From anticipation to grief. Like a reoccurring nightmare. Here we go again. Twice? Really? Bonding through the tears this week and tenderly loving on our precious family of 5, we all have been counting our blessings through the healing but now reopened wound. Praying through the pain, yet holding on to the truth that God knows. He is here in this with us. There has got to be a purpose to this. Maybe this was actually the reason for the warm hug He gave me last week to remind me that He’s got this & to trust.

We have had precious friends & family love on us over the past few days and we are incredibly grateful for our community that surrounds us. Our CEO’s sweet wife sent me the link to this song this past week and I have listened and re-listened. Thy will be done. It’s not about me. The truth in that perspective is real but not entirely something we easily embrace. We often fight ourselves.

Friends, there really isn’t much else to say, this song truly sums up how I feel and what we hold on to as we seek for direction pushing forward…

“I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

I know you’re good
But this don’t feel good right now
And I know you think
Of things I could never think about
It’s hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that you’re God
And I am not
So

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will

I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness you have in store
I know you hear me
I know you see me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Good news you have in store

So, thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord”

By: Hillary Scott

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

“…I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

-Psalm 61:2

I went for a run at the trails as I often do several mornings out of the week. I run the same path, the same direction, and usually the same distance. But not this time.

As I was headed back on the final stretch of my run, there was a fork in the trail. I always go to the left as that way leads back to where my car is parked. But as I was jogging, I felt a tug in my heart. “Turn right and go up the hill.” Um, ok. I argued in my mind…I have a schedule, I have things to do. But…maybe I should welcome this quick break? Honestly sounded kind of nice…

You see, as the due date approaches quickly for our adoption and literally he could arrive at any time, we have been quite anxious and on pins & needles here. My stomach has literally been in knots as we wait for what’s to come…the next part of our story. So, in this moment at the trails, I felt like the Spirit was leading me to take a minute to just breathe before heading home and back to reality. I decided to listen. I stopped running and went right instead of continuing left. I walked up the hill and felt like I should just take a moment to pray over our adoption in the peaceful, quiet stillness surrounded by trees. Pray for the birth mom. Pray for Levi.  So, I walked up the hill and saw a big rock and thought it would make for a a perfect spot to just sit for a few minutes.

Tears started to stream down my face and join with the sweat that was already dripping.

I prayed for this brave birth mom who has been through so much. I prayed for her heart. For her pain. For her grief. For her future.

I prayed for this baby boy who is growing inside of her womb. Who we anticipate to be our Levi. I prayed for his arrival into this world. I thanked God for his life and prayed that Ryan & I would be the parents to him we need to be.

I prayed for our other kiddos who have walked this journey of adoption with us. They have endured broken hearts, God protect them. Help them to see the gospel through this process and love You more.

I cried.

As I sat on the rock, I felt this warm peace come over me and all I kept hearing inside my heart and mind was God gently reminding me that He’s got everything in his hands. The trees around me, the rock I sat on, the sun in the sky, Levi, Addi, Kam, Miles, Ryan and me…we are His creation and loved. “I’ve got you. Trust.”

As I walked away, I turned and snapped a pic to remember this sweet moment and share with Ryan about my experience. And THIS is the pic I got!

Sunshine beautifully circling the rock I just sat on. Tears flowed down my face as I stood in awe. God just gave me a warm hug. One that I didn’t even realize I needed in that moment, but goodness, I certainly did. I needed time with the Lord. I needed His peace and assurance. He wanted to comfort his stubborn child who tends to think she has to do everything on her own. I walked away knowing that whatever unfolds next in our story, God already knows. He writes the better story and my job is to stay the course and trust.

Friend, I would like to encourage you to today…when God interrupts your life and suggests you go in a different direction for a moment, DO IT. You just never know what He has waiting for you there.

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Baby Dixon Adoption Story: Part 8

So it’s been a while! 8 months to be exact. The last post in our adoption story was definitely unexpected and extremely hard. But this one brings new light and hope! Let me give you the real, raw low down on what’s happened over the past 8 months, friends…

After last year’s failed adoption in late October, it took us several months to process what had happened and work through the feelings & emotions. Crazy what all we felt. Honestly, there are still some days that we struggle with all of it. But God has been faithful and gracious, as always. His mercies are new every morning and His loves never fails. One day at a time, one step at a time, we stayed the course and got everything updated at the agency so we could start to be shown again to birth moms as they came in.

In early March of this year, we were making dinner and my phone rang. It was the agency. Anytime they call, my heart skips a beat. After a lengthy conversation regarding two different birth moms who were due one in August, one in September & some other special situations, the question was…”Do you want us to show your profile to either of them?”

The questions flowed in…are we ready to put ourselves out there again? Can we handle this? Can our girls handle this? Does this make financial sense? What if it fails again? But what if this could really be our son? Although we might not have felt strong enough yet to “do it all again” or “start over”, we knew God had called us to this and would provide what we needed. It’s not about us, but Him. It’s about a child’s life and the love we have to give.

“YES, you can show our profile to them.”

Fast forward just a few short weeks. Sitting at my desk doing some work late one afternoon and my phone rings. The agency. Is this it? THE CALL?

As the sweet lady from the agency spoke the words, “You have been chosen again…”, it honestly didn’t feel real. I think she was just as nervous to tell me as I was to hear it! It didn’t set in. I honestly felt nothing. And felt bad that I felt nothing. What was wrong with me? I realized in that moment how hardened & protective my heart had become. God, forgive me.

I hung up the phone and immediately called Ryan, then my mom, siblings, my best friends. I asked them if they were ready to walk this road again. We all were kind of in shock and not sure how to feel. We told our girls and they had the the we-will-just-wait-and-see attitude. I couldn’t blame them.

Don’t get excited. Don’t get your hopes up. This is all I could tell myself for weeks. As a family, we prayed. For the new birth mom. For the baby. But we didn’t talk much about it otherwise. We didn’t want to prepare a nursery. Not yet.

Ryan & I had the first official matching call with the birth mom. It was super easy. Quick. She was incredibly sweet and seemed excited about our family.

Late April, we had our first meeting set up with her. We were to meet for dinner with her & the agency rep. We were more nervous this time than I remember being last year. I think we were honestly just scared of being hurt again. But once again, we realized…it’s not about us. On the drive there, Ryan & I talked through all of this a lot. Thankful to have such a strong husband to walk this journey with. God knew we needed each other in this life.

As we waited at the front of the restaurant with the lady from the agency, the clock was ticking. She didn’t show up at the time we had agreed upon and worry set it. Had she already changed her mind? Did something happen? Is this really going to happen again, God? Ryan & I looked at each other and didn’t have to say a word. The agency rep was texting her as she walked through the front door. She was running late because it had taken longer to get her oil changed on her car than she anticipated. Sweet relief. She apologized and we headed to sit at our table. I know she must have been just as nervous or even more so than we were.

She was beautiful. She was so kind. We enjoyed our time with her just getting to know her. It was easy and honestly quite comfortable. It’s amazing how much love you feel towards a woman you hardly know. Not to mention the love for the tiny human being formed inside of her. It’s truly incredible. As we left and I embraced her, I felt God whisper to me, “Trust me.”

As we drove back home late that night, we felt very uplifted and good about it. Time to prepare the nursery. Time to embrace this really might happen. Just breathe and trust. Move forward. Do the next right thing. God’s got you. God’s got Levi.

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Over the next couple of months, we have texted and received many updates about our birth mom. All good. She is so independent. She is working hard to better her life, going to school and preparing for the future. She feels well even though it is extremely hot in Texas! Sonogram shows baby boy is doing fabulous. Her texts to me are always so sweet and thoughtful, even though I know she has her struggles and is also preparing for the grieving ahead. Things are moving forward positively and smoothly. No drama and no red flags (like last year). I thank God for this so much as last year took a toll on me many days.

We have prayed daily and feel the prayers of our amazing friends. It means the world the messages we have received just filled with encouragement and prayers. We are now two weeks away from due date. We have done some arranging in our house as we prepare. The nursery is officially ready. All of Miles’ tiny clothes have been washed and put away for baby brother.

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So my friends…

Our home is ready.

Our hearts are ready.

Our kids are excited to meet their brother.

We are ready to see what only God can do.

We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but beyond grateful we know without a doubt WHO holds tomorrow.

And now we wait for the next phone call…

My Sweet Potato Obsession.

Ryan may mock me, but I don’t even care. “Sweet potatoes again?” YES. Please. Get in my belly. I love them and they are healthy, so step off! Plus, he eats them every single time I cook them, so I know deep down he enjoys them too. My kids love them and it’s easy….so in my mind, it’s a win win!

Here’s my new found sweet potato obsession, how I cook them and how I eat them. Hope you enjoy as much as I do!

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First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Then,  cut 2-3 good size sweet potatoes into small chunks and place on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil. Then here’s the secret…are you ready?

Sprinkle these spices on it to make them divine:

  • Chipotle Chili Powder
  • Cumin
  • Garlic Powder
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly cracked pepper

Give them all a little toss with your fingers to make sure all the potatoes are evenly coated with goodness. Then bake for about 20 minutes or until desired doneness. I always like mine a little crispy!

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Usually, I eat these delicious sweet potatoes with a fried egg on top and a side of fruit or bacon! But sometimes we have them with dinner as a side dish to a grilled meat.

So there you go. Easy peasy. My new sweet potato obsession. Enjoy my friends! Oh and if you have another way to make them, please oh please leave me a comment below & share.

Story Cast – Brand new Podcast Launch!

 

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You guys, I’m so excited to announce something!!!

About a year ago, I felt like God was telling me to do something…share more, be more, give more, lead more. I wasn’t quite sure what that something was specifically…until one day, when I was chatting with my sweet friend Rebecca over coffee. She had been feeling similar feelings! We talked through it and it hit us. What if we started a podcast? To do all of the things listed above. Is that crazy???

We started dreaming and making plans and it all came together quickly. We are THRILLED to see what God will do through this in 2016. So, here we go…Story Cast has officially launched as of January 4th! You can check out the Story Cast website here.

“Story Cast provides a stage where women share their unique stories. The mission is to build a community of women who gather together weekly to laugh, cry, and encourage one another to be confident in who God made them to be, to live life to the fullest and embrace each small or big moment given, and to realize their stories matter.” 

We hope you’ll listen in! But most of all, we hope this will be a bright way to start your week & be a source of inspiration for you. It will be launching on iTunes soon as well, so you can subscribe!

Here’s to 2016 being a fabulous year filled with many incredible stories, friends.

Much love, Traci

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Miles Clark

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Baby boy was originally scheduled to arrive via c-section on October 30th. But he had other plans in mind!

The day before his arrival, I woke up feeling fabulous. I went and worked all day long at my favorite coffee house downtown. I was productive and felt better than I had in weeks! Side note: My mom says this is always a sign of impending labor when you are 9 months along.

Then later that night BAM!, I started feeling miserable. I laid on the couch groaning and whining driving my hubs crazy. Decided to head to bed and we watched an episode of Seinfeld. {Which can we just talk about how awesome this show still is? After all these years, it’s still hilarious and is one of the best shows ever created.} Right after turning the lights off and giving Ryan a good night smooch, I laid my head on the pillow. When I was dozing off, around 10:3ish, my water broke! We jumped out of bed and I called my mom. It was time!

Mom came over to get the girls and Ryan & I headed straight to the hospital. I could tell things were happening fast. After circling the ER entrance a few times out of pure confusion on where the heck to go, we finally figured it out and went in. Funny how your brain doesn’t work the same when in slight panic mode. We got checked in and to the room. The nurses hooked me all up and sure enough I was having pretty strong contractions and already dilated. Our room filled up with family and friends as we waited for the doctor and next steps. The excitement was building…we were about to meet our first son!

It was after midnight, they got me back to the cold operating room and Miles Clark Dixon was born at 12:46 on October 21st! 8 pounds of pure sweetness.

There really is nothing like the experience of birthing a child. We were and continuously are in awe of God’s creation. Miles is a gift from above and we are beyond grateful. Our hearts are overflowing for love for our boy!

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Baby Dixon Adoption Story: Part 7

Well, this truly isn’t what I thought this post would be about. And honestly, I’ve been putting this off for weeks. Even sitting here now in our quiet home office while Miles naps, my heart aches and tears fall onto my desk as I type out these words…

Our adoption fell through.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again: Adoption is beautiful but hard. And you’ve seen here on this blog the good, bad and the ugly. And we have now officially been put into the category of having a “failed adoption.” We knew there would always be a chance in adoption that the birth mom could change her mind. But, we truly didn’t really see this coming. At least not the way it played out. It all felt so certain, especially there at the end. It all felt like it was so perfect. SO meant to be. We’ve been talking about having twins for a good part of this year and have two of everything. We were all set for our #dixontwins.

God brought us all together for a reason. Just not the one we thought.

So, what happened?

You know, honestly…we aren’t sure. And we may never really know. You see, up until the day that our birth mother delivered baby boy, we felt certain in the adoption plan. She even called us when she was heading to the hospital. But then, the next two days were quite confusing and emotional. Without going into much detail, I’ll just say this…the last phone call I received from the birth mom was in the middle of the night to let me know that “they were sending her back home because the baby wasn’t ready to come yet.” When in actuality, he was already born and they had decided to parent…which we later found out from the agency. That’s the last communication we’ve had with the birth mom. Which is hard considering we’ve worked for 5 months to build a relationship and felt like we had such a neat connection.

It’s been an interesting and rocky road for sure, but we know who ultimately is writing our story. It’s not us. And thank God that His ways are higher than our ways and His plans are always greater than our own. The story He writes is always better. So we trust and hold on to this truth. And we pray for the baby that was born that night. That God would protect him. That God would work miracles in the birth mom’s life. That she would come to know the Lord. That somehow they would be able to escape poverty and find a stable place to live. That the boy would grow up being loved and fully cared for well and one day that He would come to know Jesus. Addi, our oldest daughter, who we learn so much from daily, has been praying that for quite some time. She told me one day months ago, “Momma, even if (birth mom) changes her mind and that’s not our Levi, that he would still get saved one day so we can at least meet him in Heaven.” Oh precious, what a heart you have on you.

We grieved this loss greatly. And are still processing. It’s hard to see the duplicates of everything we have in the nursery. It was very hard to watch our girls grieve. That honestly might have been the hardest part! The emotions of a lost adoption are hard to explain. We have felt anger, confusion and most of all, sadness. We have felt so loved through this process by our family and friends. They have come and wrapped their arms around us, cried with us, brought food, sent flowers, fruit or an encouraging note and just loved us well through this time. God has blessed us greatly with these people. Our people. We are forever thankful. Thank you.

Now what? We pray, we trust, and we do the only thing we can. The next right thing…

So now, we are in the process of updating our profile with our agency and gearing up to go back in the “waiting families pot.” Now that we have sweet baby Miles (post to come about his birth soon!), we have to have a new home study and update everything on file. Moving forward with this is such a weird feeling and honestly hard to even think about it. We prayed about it for several days and came to this conclusion: God called us to this. We know in our hearts that our Levi is still out there. We must proceed and it WILL be worth it. What if Jesus gave up after things got hard? Look at all He did to adopt us into His family.

Because of the gospel, we have no choice…we take the next step. Now to see what Part 8 will bring!

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#babyDixon Adoption Story: Part 6

Twins?

Let’s just talk about this for a second.

God sure is funny isn’t He? You know, we had our daughters very close together…Addi was 7 months old when we found out we were pregnant with Kamryn. So, we sort of did this once before! Had two babies about the same time. For years now we have been asked if Addi and Kamryn are twins. And it was crazy and is a complete blur and we had no sleep and on and on and on…BUT, we loved every minute (well, ok, most minutes) & it was obviously totally worth it. Let’s throwback to those times…here we are at the Tyler zoo pushing 2 strollers!

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So honestly, having two at the same time again doesn’t scare us THAT much! Plus #thoseDixons sort of like crazy adventures. Not sure if you’ve discovered that about us yet :) We are VERY excited. Yes, it will be different this time around because they literally are arriving within weeks of each other (or less)…not 16 months! But we are  thrilled about the “twins” that God has created to join our family very soon. When we originally heard that the birth mom that chose us was due just a short 2 1/2 weeks after I was, we just laughed. 2 girls. 2 boys. Goodness gracious, here we go!

What have we done to prepare?

After learning of the news that we had been chosen several months back, we have been on a mission! When I found out I was pregnant earlier in the year, we had already started to prep the nursery for one. Then, when we got the call from the agency in June, we just started doubling everything!

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We truly feel so blessed by the amazing friendships & family in our life. We’ve had friends give us baby stuff that they no longer need. Several sweet friends planned and hosted a beautiful baby shower for us. We’ve received so many generous gifts, it brings tears to my eyes!  We are fully loaded. We have so much stuff it’s crazy! Our drawers and closets are full of clothes. We have gadgets, bumbos, play mats, bouncers, bath gear, double pack-n-play, boppies and on and on. I also have some twin mom friends that have given me some fabulous tips…and will for sure be a resource I will tap into after they arrive! Thankful for these wise, beautifully brave mommas that are there to help. And you know Grandma is having a hay day with this! My mom & I have gone shopping a few times for various things and she’s loading up her house too!

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A few frequently asked questions we get about our boys….

1. When are they due?

Miles will arrive on October 30th or sooner because I have to have a c-section (since I’ve had 2 previous ones). Levi is due November 22nd. 23 days later.

2. Do you plan to breastfeed both of them?

Yep, I’m sure gonna try!

3. What race is Levi?

He is African American. So yes, our twins will be one black and one white! Beautiful.

4. Are your girls excited?

Oh my goodness, they are SO very excited! They can’t wait. They talk about the boys all the time and even fight over who’s gonna get who. Kamryn thinks Levi will be sweet like her. She says Miles will be a “stinker like Addi.” Hahaha! They pray for the birth mom. They totally geek out and squeal anytime I buy new outfits or a gift arrives. They are giddy! And knowing how helpful they will be is awesome…they will be little mommas.

5. Is Ryan glad to have some boys in the house?

You know what…Ryan has been the sweetest and best girl daddy ever. It has been an absolute joy watching this over the past 9 years. Our girls ADORE their daddy. But YES, he is excited to play ninja turtles and trains with boys! He’s excited to think of future camping trips, hiking trails, and football. He’s pumped about adding two boys into our crazy fam. And I know he will be an amazing boy daddy too. Thankful for how he loves us all. By the way, he’s been such a fabulous support to me during pregnancy. He willingly eats whatever sounds good to me so he’s proud to show you his “pregnancy” progress!

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Well folks, that’s about it. Our adoption story thus far. We are prepped & ready. We have done and continue to do all we can. Now, we just continue to pray and wait to see how the rest of the story will unfold. God’s story is always better than ours and we hold on to Ephesians 3:20…”He is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.” We have faith that God has been and is in control of everything. From the timing of when the babies will be born. To the adoption process, those 48 hours at the hospital and all that that will entail. To bringing two baby boy bundles home and starting our life as a family of 6! We pray often each day for God to go before us as all of this is beyond our strength or power. We know He already knows how all of this will play out and this gives us hope and comfort!

THANK YOU for following our journey and your prayers & encouragement along the way. Your prayers specifically for the birth mother are much appreciated over the coming weeks. The final post in this series, Part #7, will be after babies arrive!!! We can not wait to bring them both home.

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#babyDixon Adoption Story: Part 5

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Tears filled our eyes and many emotions and feelings filled our hearts after receiving that call from the agency that evening. “You have been chosen.” Words I will never forget. I automatically had a strong sense of connection and love for this birth mother who had just looked through our freshly printed profile book and picked us. Our family…those Dixons. We had been praying diligently for her, this person we had no clue who it would be, for months. Actually, for years now even at night as a family while tucking the girls into tiny twin beds.

When we got set up with our new agency, they connected us to their private Facebook group page with their other adoptive families. On this page, they post brief descriptions of birth moms that come in wanting to set up an adoption plan. When our birth mom’s basic info was first posted, we read the details and something just spoke to us about her and our hearts told us that this might be THE ONE. So when they called and told us that she had picked us, we almost weren’t surprised! And here’s the even crazier part – we found out she is due just a few weeks after me! God had brought us together for a reason and the story begins to unfold. Our twins.

So the process works like this. Once the birth mother picks a family, they set up an initial “match call” with a social worker to talk, introduce ourselves and get to know one another. Then if that goes well, a face to face meeting would be set up. After that, the amount of times you meet up or see each other before the birth is really determined by both parties – the birth parents & us. Then, details regarding the birth of this precious baby and hospital would be worked out. In Texas, after the birth, the birth mom has a 48 hours minimum wait to sign off her rights and complete the relinquishment. Thinking through this brings tears to my eyes. Oh the pain, hurt, loss, joy, happiness, humbleness and more unknown feelings that I know these 48 hours will hold.

Our first call was scheduled just a couple of weeks after being matched. Ryan & I were super nervous. To hear this strangers’ voice on the other end of the phone. To relay on to her successfully how thankful we were she picked us, how brave we thought she was and how much love we already had for her and for the baby boy she was carrying. We dialed into the conference call number set up by the agency and immediately were connected to the social worker who was there with her. For the next 45 minutes, we talked. She shared.  She asked some good questions. We asked her some questions and got to know her. Our heart broke for her but grew bigger for her during these minutes. We told her how humbled we were and how we felt like God had brought us together. It was a special time and it just felt right. This was really happening.

After receiving confirmation from the agency that she too felt good about the call, we were on to the next step…setting up the face to face meeting! That was scheduled for just a few short weeks after our call. Date & location was arranged and we were praying hard…we knew going into this would be nerve-wracking for all of us!

In the mean time…my pregnancy was going well and my belly continued to grow. Sweet baby Miles was measuring in the 90% percentile (and still is). He’s going to be tall like Daddy, no doubt! This little guy moves all the time and, according to his sonogram pics, will have some chunky cheeks. So excited to meet him and kiss those cheeks! Precious little boy already has his momma’s heart. Here are some pics showing his growth during this time over the summer…

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So the day came for us to go meet the birth parents. We took a little road trip across Texas that morning to arrive in time for lunch. On the road, we prayed and we talked to some friends on the phone who had experience in this area and were able to give us some great advice and perspective. Ryan & I were both so nervous. Probably one of the most nervous times of our entire lives to be honest! Would we say the right things? Would we know how to act? What to do? How to respond? What is appropriate to say and what’s not? This was uncharted, very new territory for us and we had no clue what to expect. But we prayed and we decided to just be us, be real & go into this honest and open. God knows us and knows her and knows what this baby needs….we just have to be obedient and take it one step at a time. We knew she would be nervous as well and prayed that God would calm all of our nerves! When walking into the restaurant, we weren’t even sure what she looked like or who we were looking for. A few minutes after sitting in the lobby area, we see 3 people walk in – the social worker, the birth mom and the birth father. My natural response? I walked straight up and hugged her fighting back tears! We had a really good lunch followed by ice cream. Conversation seemed to flow easily and comfortably. We talked about pregnancy, families, their hopes & goals, what life for Levi would look like with us, etc. God’s hand was felt all over this day. We left amazed, exhausted, drained but fulfilled.

The consecutive months after this meeting, things have been up and down….some good days, some hard days. Adoption is amazing, but it is also very, very hard. It’s a roller coaster that is hard to explain. Words fail. We knew it would not be easy, but we never EVER doubt that it will be worth it. Levi will be worth it. God has called us to this. Since our initial call & meeting, the birth parents have dealt with a lot of drama, family issues, doubt, questioning their decision, some health concerns, fear, guilt, hospital trips and on and on. It has been difficult for all of us, but most definitely for them. Our love grows for the birth mother as this relationship develops. Our love for baby boy grows greatly. So much to all of this…constantly leaves us on our knees before our Creator. Each day might be crazy, but one thing always remains: God is in complete & total control. This is the stage of the game we are in currently…we continue to meet with them & talk to them on the phone off and on, we pray consistently and continue to prepare for the birth of both of our sons. We continually remind ourselves, this is not about us…this is about God’s plan. We are the clay, he is the potter. Definitely a faith building process!

Next up in Part 6, I’ll share with you guys more about what it looks like to prepare for TWO! Our #Dixontwins. A look inside the nursery, our babies shower and some of the goodies we’ve picked up or have been gifted as we get ready!

For now, we just ask you pray if & when you think of us…

Pray for the birth parents: for peace, comfort, healing, assurance in their decision and the actual delivery, hospital process, their family & health for birth mom.

Pray for our baby boys: for them to continue to grow and develop, for health, for their entrance into the world and into our family! And pray that the timing of their arrival works out as I will most likely be recovering from a c-section with Miles when Levi arrives.

Pray for us: that we would put our full trust in God and have complete faith in his plan through all of this. That we would have the right words to say and remain strong. Pray specifically for our girls and their hearts through all of this, the stress and worry they feel and for them as they prepare for a lot of life changes.

Thank you all! I can’t even express through words how much your prayers & support means to us throughout this process!

#babyDixon Adoption Story: Part 4

We’re officially pregnant AND adopting, all in one! YES. It’s true. Ryan & i were in shock for about a month! Did that really just happen? REALLY?!!! Seriously?! God’s funny sometimes. After multiple positive pregnancy tests and when I started feeling nauseas and extremely tired…things really started to sink in. This was happening. We were going to have 4 kids.

Quickly after this shocking news, we received word from our agency that there was going to be a get-together dinner in March to get caught up and meet other adoptive families. We were excited about this! We were still fully committed to the adoption and hopeful for some good updates/clarity at the meeting. Prior to going, we had started to discuss the possibilities of looking into additional agencies as we started to wonder if we should be more proactive after all of the months and months of waiting, not any action, and limited communication. We had no clue if this was even possible, some of questions that Ryan & I discussed were…

Can we be with more than one agency at a time?
Is this agency the best fit for us after all?
Does it normally take this long?
What if we were with another agency or more than one agency, would that better our chances?
If we change agencies, are we trying to be in control and not let God be in control?
What will the agency think of us being pregnant?

So after praying about this before the meeting, we decided that we would base our decision to search for other agencies or not after hearing the “updates” given. So we went, dined, chatted with some other couples, received the updates and left with no doubt in our minds. It was time to do more and work harder to find our son. We learned during that meeting that we would not be able to get an updated & needed home study for the year, which is required, until after the birth of our biological baby. And also, that the agency wouldn’t show our profile to any birthmoms until 6 months after delivery. Honestly, this was eye-opening and discouraging all at the same time. Ryan & I felt in our hearts that the pregnancy should not put any kind of delay on our adoption process. So to us, this was a clear sign.

We began to pray that God would show us what to do next. Where do we go from here? A couple of months past. First trimester came and went and I was starting to feel better & more energetic. We had been invited to Lubbock to attend a 40th wedding anniversary for some of our dearest friends and mentors in May. A couple of weeks prior to that trip, I so happened to remember that I had a friend on Facebook that worked at an adoption agency based out of Lubbock! A girl that we used to go to church with when we lived there years ago. So I sent her a quick Facebook message that went something like this…”Hey girl, would it be possible to come by on Friday, May 22 for a quick meeting to learn more about your agency?” To which she quickly responded saying that we could and that the director of the agency was available that afternoon at just the perfect time when we would be pulling into town after our 8 hour drive. All set.

The day before our trip, we went to the doctor for the big gender reveal. We currently have two beautiful girls who fill our lives with much joy and a little drama. :) We’ve always known in our hearts, we were supposed to have a son and assumed it would be through adoption. With this pregnancy surprise, we thought it would be so cool if it were a boy so we could have 2 sons since we have 2 daughters. 4 kids! WOW. We never really expected to have that many! #thoseDixons were about to go from 4 to 6! As soon as they put the ultrasound instrument on my growing tummy, he revealed himself proudly! It’s a boy! Tears of joy filled our eyes as we watched them explore our precious son who we had already chosen a name for, Miles Clark. It was a special moment and we felt God’s presence surround us. Sharing this news with family and friends made for a fun day! We were excited to learn all of this before heading West to celebrate with our friends.

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So after arriving in Lubbock that Friday, the whole Dixon crew went to meet with the director of this potential new agency for about an hour and a half. It was everything we needed. She said things that spoke right to our heart about their mission and the way they approach this adoption process. They also said they left it up to God and the birth mom to decide if she would want to choose us knowing we were pregnant, so they continue to show profiles. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with her and loved hearing her passion for what she does. We left with a fresh new stack of paperwork and list of to do’s to get the ball rolling yet again.

After a great time in West Texas, we headed back East to Tyler. On the long drive home, we started filing out the new forms, talking about baby names, and feeling overall more confident and excited about this new door of opportunity. We felt like this step was the right one and bringing us closer to our second son, who we even chose a name for on the drive home…Levi, which means “attached or united.” Perfect. The 2-3 weeks after that initial meeting we completed doctors visits, background checks, updated references, fire & safety updates, a home study visit and preparing a new profile book to be printed. We also had a 2 hour phone call with the agency discussing what circumstances, conditions, preferences, etc we would be willing to accept. This call was honestly very hard and exhausting. Questions like “Would you take a baby who’s birth mom smoked cigarettes? If yes, how many cigarettes per day is OK?” and “If your baby had XYZ, would you take him?” Heavy, heavy stuff to think through and answer. We worked fiercely to complete everything needed as we felt God saying, “move!” We had everything turned in to the agency including the freshly printed profile books by Friday, June 19th. Just under a month after our initial meeting. Whew, sweet relief!

3 DAYS LATER. June 22nd. My phone rings a little after 5 that evening. The call we had been waiting on for 2 1/2 years…

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Miss the first 3 parts of our adoption series? You can read there by clicking on the links below! Stay tuned for Part 5. 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

#babyDixon Adoption Story: Part 3

So we continue along our journey to #babyDixon. We knew this process wouldn’t be easy but we always knew it would be worth it. Thoughts of our future kiddo helped us press on through any doubts or discouragement along the way.

At this point, June 2014, we were all set, in the “book” at the agency to be shown to birth moms, and daily wondering when our phone would ring telling us we had been chosen. Month after month continued to pass. We received a couple of emails that our profile was going to be shown, but never THE call. With those couple of emails, there was much prayer, hopeful anticipation and thoughts of “what if?”

 

We constantly had to remind ourselves not to get discouraged. From the beginning stages of submitting the first round of paperwork ’til we swaddle the tiny baby, we knew this thing was in God’s hands and we didn’t want it any different. We would patiently wait some more. Another holiday season came and went with no additional stockings to hang by the fire. Hello, 2015.

 

So, Ryan & I started talking about something we hadn’t talked about in a very long time. We started questioning something we thought we had felt certain of previously. The whole “should we try to get pregnant?” talk. Oh boy. But wait! Before we go into this, let me give some background…

 

After having our girls so close to together back to back in 2006 & 2007, this momma had honestly no interest in enduring 9 months of pregnancy again. I mean, for the love, I was pregnant for basically 2 years straight. I really felt that I was done. I knew in my heart that God had planted that seed of adoption and felt perfectly content and at peace with that being how our third child would come into the world. But, Ryan always said throughout the whole process of adoption (partially joking but not really), “You know if we have 3, we should have 4 right? He’ll need a buddy!” I always would laugh it off but just thought that maybe we would just adopt twice…you know, if he was really serious about the buddy thing.

 

So fast-foward to early 2015. Things were moving still extremely slowly with our adoption process and my 35th birthday was rapidly approaching. Thoughts of pregnancy crept in. See Exhibit A.

 

Exhibit A:
Maybe I was making a mistake by shutting that door? 
What if God wanted me to get pregnant AND adopt? 
I do like the thought of feeling the baby move, breastfeeding and my girls being a part of such an incredible thing.
Maybe I wasn’t done? 
Maybe I should try again before I turn 35? 
I’m too old.
Could I really endure that again? I mean, 9 whole months, really?
Could I give up running & wine for nearly a whole entire year?
I can’t. I just can’t.
Am I selfish?
Would I be able to handle 4 kids, owning our own businesses and have any kind of life?
What if I get stretch marks this time around?
What if I can’t get pregnant anymore?
What if it was a boy and looks like Ryan? I would just die.
Am I crazy?
I don’t even know how to have a newborn…it’s been over 7 years! What the heck is a Nose Freda?

 

When I told Ryan some of my thoughts, I could tell he was trying not to show his excitement and make sure this is something I really wanted to do. But his grin told me all I needed to know. So we talked through it, went back & forth for about 2 months. Should we? Shouldn’t we? Then finally one day, we decided something BIG. Something kind of crazy. Have you heard of the story in the Bible about Gideon laying out a fleece and asking God to give him a sign – if it were wet the next morning, but the ground was dry THEN he would know for sure? Well, we decided to throw out the fleece so to speak. But honestly felt in our hearts it was the only way to move on from these few months of uncertainty. God is gracious and patient with us humans, thank goodness huh?

 

So, we decided to really pray intently and try for 1 month. Just 1 month which technically is only a week or so. If God wanted us to get pregnant, we would. If not, we would just completely move on from this idea and be OK with it. But, either way, we’d move on with our plan to adopt as that never was a question.

 

So, we did. And it did. And He did. And now this…

 

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Miss Parts 1 & 2? Here you go:
Read Part 1 HERE
Read Part 2 HERE
Stay tuned for Part 4. God really just starts showing off!

#babyDixon Adoption Story: Part 2

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Our journey had officially begun. Hurry-up-and-wait seemed to be the theme throughout this stretch…

In March of 2013, we left our first training at the agency with a clear direction, a stack of paperwork, list of required books on “Open Adoption” to read and a dose of anxiousness. The paperwork required, as expected & understandably so, was INTENSE. Very personal questions were asked, details of family history, childhood memories, copies of birth and marriage certificates, work & living history, doctor check-ups & referrals to ensure we were “fit to parent”, letters of references were requested, etc, etc, etc. The agency had told us the next step after completing this would be a 2 day seminar specifically about Domestic Infant Adoption, but they had just had one and it would be a few months before the next one would be scheduled. We thought that’s ok! That will give us some time to complete this huge pile of to-dos.

So, we worked on this paperwork and read the books off and on for the next few months…at night when the girls went to bed, on airplanes, Sunday afternoons on the patio, on road trips, you name it. Late summer, we mailed off a huge packet containing the completed paperwork to the agency. Everything was DONE! We felt so accomplished and excited. Maybe baby Dixon would be with us by Christmas? We would need a stocking for him and of course new family photos for a Christmas card! Ryan began painting our guest room that would become a nursery. We dusted off the beautiful crib my Dad had hand crafted for Addi and set it in place. We continued to move forward as we waited for the next green light. We read books, learned so much about open adoption…the good, bad, ugly. Ryan and I both felt 100% sure about having this openness (which just means you can have some sort of relationship with the birth mom and possibly the birth father after placement). We prayed for the birth mother often knowing the struggle and pain she would go through. A love in our heart grew for this person who would carry this precious gift.

We were anticipating the 2 day seminar to be scheduled “any day now” and felt like we were making progress. We waited. And waited. And waited some more. The agency thought they would have a seminar in the Fall of that year but it didn’t happen. Months came and months went. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years…and nothing. Honestly, we began to feel discouraged. At this point, all our friends and family were aware of our desire to adopt. As good friends and loving family do, they asked “How’s the adoption going?” to which we would reply with a sigh, “Just waiting!”. We knew adoption could be and usually is a long process…but every time we took a huge step forward, nothing much happened. We prayed. Mostly for patience but always for our baby who we knew God had already picked out for our family. Some days, we questioned. We had faithfully taken the steps…God, this was what you wanted us to do, right? Finally on a cold winter day in February 2014, we received word that we had gotten in to the long-awaited seminar! This was it! It was scheduled for late April, still a couple of months away, but we felt encouraged that things would began to happen!

With a newly found vigor and positivity, we attended the 2 day session that Spring. The days were filled with intensive training on adopting a newborn. What to expect, the process of being chosen by a birth mom, the match meetings, the hospital stay, etc. We learned so much and enjoyed every minute of it. We even heard a testimony from another adoptive couple who had been through the process. They had been chosen quickly and had a beautiful baby girl. They shared their story and it touched our hearts. We began to wonder even more…how would our story play out? Feeling more confident than ever that we were on the right track, we left with a few more items to take care of to get ready for our home study. One was to create a profile with pictures and a letter for the birthparents. This profile would be what they would show a birth mom when she was ready to choose a family. This was all the birthparents would know of us. Our one shot to make a good impression. We thoughtfully but quickly took care of this so we could get our home study scheduled and do all we could to “get in the books” as soon as possible. We were ready. We got a call to setup our final piece of the puzzle, the home study. It was scheduled quickly, the interview and home inspection was smooth and painless. Some general questions for Ryan and I, a walkthrough and even some Q&A with our girls on discipline and their happiness levels. The last official item was officially checked off. We left on a family vacation in early June with everything complete. Now, we wait some more.

Sitting outside on a porch while at the beach that June 2014, my phone rang. It was the agency. The first of many anticipated calls along our journey…our home study was approved and our profile had officially gone IN THE BOOK! So they would be able to start showing us to birth moms that they were working with. Tears streamed down my face as I looked at Ryan and told him. It’s happening…here we go. Knowing that from that day forward, the next time our phone rang, it could be THE call. The one to tell us we had been chosen. The one that would bring us closer to our son. The one that, unbeknownst to us, was still so far away.

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#babyDixon Adoption Story: Part 1

Ryan & I started feeling the push towards adoption many years ago. We felt God stirring in our hearts about this in a very real way since the beginnings of our relationship but always assumed it meant “one day”…like one day much further down the road. You know, when things were more “settled”, more established. We would have more time, more money. Our girls were still very young, practically babies, and financially we were broke. We had too much debt, too little income and fought for side jobs to bring in just enough for us to not wake up to a low balance email from the bank. We felt trapped, small and didn’t see the possibilities of getting ahead, let alone bringing other kiddos into our family. So, honestly, we didn’t think too much into the adoption idea. However, God is always bigger than any excuse or any circumstance. His power is revealed most great when ours is most pathetic.

 

A few amazing years past those heavy years, we saw Him work in ways we could never take credit for. That is another story in itself. We quickly realized that God was stripping away any excuse we had. A great business opportunity came into our life and rocked our world, thankfully leaving us in a better position with our schedules as well as our finances. We were able to pay off our massive amounts of credit card. Our girls were getting older. They started talking about how they wanted a “baby brother.” Ryan & I both quit our full-time jobs and decided to work from home with our new-found business and pursue our list of dreams. One of them, adoption.

 

Fast forward to the Fall of 2012. One Sunday evening on a road trip back home from Austin, we were listening to sermon that our cousin Aaron Ivey had preached weeks before at his church, The Austin Stone. The topic of the series? Adoption. God spoke loud and clear to us that evening, right there in our car. It was time. Overwhelmed by the reality of the gospel and our own adoption into His family, we were brought to tears and ready to embark on this journey. He made a magnificent path for us the past few years and there was no reason to wait for “one day” anymore. That day had arrived.

 

We began our research into agencies and officially and nervously submitted a pre-application in January 2013. This included general info about us and basically gets you into an initial “help you figure out which route to take” kind of class. We went to an informational meeting, clueless. We left with a clear direction of our route. Domestic infant from Texas of any race. Even making this decision made things feel more real. It’s amazing how God starts to give you this unexplainable love for this unborn child even at this phase. We loved #babyDixon…not knowing who he was or when he would be created. Taking this step just felt right. We were getting closer but little did we know we were still years away.

 

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Our Valentine’s Day Adventure

We had such a great Valentine’s Day! It was gorgeous & sunny outside, so Ryan & I decided to soak that up and spend sometime outdoors as a family. I packed up a picnic filled with pepperoni and mozzarella roll ups, sesame crackers, hummus, dried fruit, pita chips, girl scout cookies and nuts (YUM) and we headed to the Mineola Nature Trail to explore, hike and enjoy the sunshine! If you live in East Texas and haven’t been there, you should go! It’s fabulous out there. Beautiful and very peaceful. We love taking our girls on adventures that we like to call “memory makers.” Can’t think of a better way to spend a day celebrating LOVE with the people I love the most! That night, Ryan & I put the girls to bed and had a date night at home. He grilled steaks, we opened some wine from our favorite winery and chilled outside on the patio laughing and enjoying the Spring like Winter night! My favorite kind of date night. I am one blessed wife & momma. Here are some pics from our day.

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Will never take it for granted!

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When my girls were little, all I wanted to do was be able to work from home so that I could be with them more. I worked a typical corporate 8 to 5 cubicle style job for most of their babyhood and well past their toddlerhood. Sat at my desk most days always wishing there was something more. I worked hard but felt like I got no where. Financially…or in life. It always made me so sad to drop off two sweet baby girls at daycare in the morning and only have what seemed like a few minutes each night to really spend quality time with them. I struggled with this for years but thought that was just the way it was. We didn’t have another option. We had so much debt and way too many bills. I always prayed that God would somehow allow me that freedom. To open a door for my family. I love to work and always have, but just wanted something that would give me the freedom to do it from home. I prayed and prayed and searched and searched. Fast forward to today. I am overcome with joy and emotion as I think of all that God has done in our lives over the past several years. The things he has brought us through, both ups & downs. I am so incredibly grateful that I have found IT. To be able to work a job that I love from home or wherever I choose and set the hours I want. My kids can be with me when I work. I love this so much. I am also thankful that this job doesn’t feel like a job to me…I help people achieve goals and earn income doing it. It’s also allowed us to pay off debt and dream bigger than we’ve ever imagined. It really is my dream come true. To live more. Such freedom for which I will not take for granted and will count my blessings daily as I soak up making memories with my babies!

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#focused15

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I have a friend who read a book called One Word That Will Change Your Life and told me all about it! In a nutshell it encourages you to pick just one word and let it guide you the entire year to help you simplify and go after your goals in all areas of your life. I decided to do this. I am all about setting goals and love the start of a fresh new year to go after brand new ones. Instead of making overwhelming resolutions I could potentially fail at, I decided to choose a word and let that push me to succeed in several areas and goals! I prayed about it and decided Traci’s word would be FOCUSED. Past tense because the end goal is to be more focused. That’s my destination (and my new hashtag). Let me explain…

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  • I wanted to be more focused as a mom. I want to have time with my children where I fully focus on them and relish each moment with them as they are kids. Because as time has already proven, it speeds by. How are they already 7 & 8? I mean, really. Life is crazy and I love crazy. BUT. I want to slow down enough each day to have intentional focused time with my munchkins. It’s in those sweet moments where memories are made and hopefully impacts their hearts. I don’t want to miss it…at bedtime, reading a book, cuddling, playing a game of basketball, looking them in the eyes, holding their hand.
  • I want to be more focused as a wife. With Ryan & I both having our own businesses, we tend to be in “work mode” often. And we both enjoy working. However, I want to have even more time with my husband that is fully focused on us. Not our kids. Not our businesses. Not our long list of to do’s. Just us. Our friendship and our love. Date nights need to be just that. A night together to laugh, talk, look into each others eyes, and just be. Ryan deserves that from me. Our marriage deserves that. We do fairly well in this area but there is always room for improvement! I am blessed to have an amazing man who not only is my best friend but also business partner. I want to be able to fully focus on the most important part of our relationship as husband and wife first!
  • I want to be more focused in my business. Working from home is a total blessing of which I’ve dreamed about my whole life! I love what I do and the freedom it allows me. Wouldn’t trade it for anything! However, something I have learned about myself is that in order for me to truly focus and get more done, I have to do a few things. Which is my goal in this area for the year! That is to utilize my planner to help me plan out my weeks and months better. To make my list of things I need/want to accomplish and mark them off each day. If I don’t write it down, chances are, it’s not happening. I also have decided in order to focus fully on getting stuff done in my business, I work so much better from a coffee shop! When I’m at home, I sometimes get distracted by “home stuff”…i.e. laundry, dishes, my dog, the piles of toys, etc. But when I take my computer to the local coffee shop, I get a ton done and can intently focus on building my business. I love it. Plus the coffee is amazing and that’s always a perk! I have a big goals for my business in 2015, so being & staying FOCUSED is key.
  • I want to be more focused with my running. Last year, I ran. But honestly it was half-heartedly. I didn’t give it my all. I didn’t do it as much as I would have liked or pushed myself as hard as I could. The races I did were hard and I didn’t even really try. As I ran across the finish line of the Dallas Half in December, I determined then & there that I wouldn’t let another year pass like that. I know there will be a day when I’m older where running is a thing of the past….hopefully that day will be when I’m like 90! I want to relish in my runs all that I can. So this year, I am focused. Focused on getting better. Getting faster. Doing more. Running with purpose. It clears my mind, I get my best ideas while running, and have some of my best worship experiences. It’s my “Traci time.” I need this and it’s good for me! Dedicated to being more focused and the runner I know I can be.
  • Finally, but most importantly, I want to be more focused in my relationship with the Lord this year. I have started getting up early & I was not an early morning person! But slowly I’m becoming one. And loving it! I need to have more focused quiet times in the mornings to get my heart and focus where it needs to be each day. JESUS. When He is my focus, everything else falls as it should. I don’t let as many things affect me in a negative way, I’m a nicer and more patient momma when my girls wake up, I’m a better friend. I have determined that I can’t do this life thing by myself (duh) and God doesn’t expect me to. He’s there always and is continuously faithful. I need to let him guide my days instead of bringing him in on occasion when it’s convenient. He is bigger and greater than all things….I need him in ALL areas, not just a few.

My prayer at the end of 2015, as we are celebrating another year with our amazing friends & dancing the night away at our annual New Year’s Eve party, is that I’ll look back over the past 12 months and know that I FOCUSED on what’s most important. In each moment of each day of each month of the whole year. I want to make it count and live it to the fullest.

I challenge you to pick a word and join me in striving to be the best version of YOU that you can be this year! And I would LOVE to hear about it if you would be willing to share!

Much love,

Traci

Remain in my love.

In December of 2009, I heard an amazing message at church on that particular Sunday morning. Jon Jenz preached on John 15:9 which says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”  

I even blogged about it here.

I distinctly remember leaving church that day with that verse permeating every bit of my being. Oh how much Jesus loves me! To die for me. To pay for all of my many sins. To love me inspite of me, just like the Father. Unconditional, sacrificial, undeniable love. I remember thinking how I wanted to be reminded daily to REMAIN in that love. To walk in that love. To show that love. Each and every day. We went to lunch at my parents house right after church, just as we had done on many Sundays. I told my Dad how cool I thought it would be to tattoo the word “remain” on my wrist as a reminder of this sweet verse. He agreed…my Dad was cool like that. He himself even talked about getting a tat!

Fast forward to June 4, 2010. The absolute hardest and most tragic day of my life. My Dad, the man who taught us so much about living life to the fullest and making the most of each opportunity, suddenly passed away that morning from a heart attack.  He went for a run early that morning, came home and that was it. He went to heaven and is now running the streets of gold. Through much grief, pain, reliving many good memories, and a ton of prayers, my family made it through that dark time. We still miss him like crazy, quote him often, still laugh at his jokes, and strive to live MORE because of all he taught us.

So, back to the verse. After he passed away, I still had not gotten that “remain” tattoo. But this verse had now become two-fold for me. Now, I wanted to remain in Christ’s love and also hold on to the love of my earthly father as well. I felt that my Mom & Dad both rooted my life in love from the moment I was born. I told Ryan that I wanted to get a tattoo about that verse and all that it now meant to me and asked him to draw something up for me. Since my love knows my heart more than anyone else, I trusted him with this endeavor. He came back with the absolute perfect tattoo…

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Rooted in love. 30 heart leaves for the 30 years I had my Dad in my life. 2 pink hearts that represent my children. I absolutely LOVED it. Remain and grow. Live more, give more. It was perfect.

I held on to this drawing for the past 3 1/2 years knowing one day I would actually have the courage to go and get it tattooed on my body. I wanted it. I knew it would happen. I just never did it. Until this week in San Diego!!!

Next week marks 4 years since my Dad passed away. I thought what better way to remember and celebrate his life and all he taught me than to go on my birthday trip to finally get this marked on my inner calf. So we went & we did it! It was an amazing experience.

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We added 2 connected hearts on the tree itself to represent Ryan & I’s love for one another. The tattoo artist nailed it. I absolutely love it. I love what it means to me. I love that it gives me an opportunity to share my story. I love that I can tell others about Christ’s love, about what I learned from my 30 years with my Dad and about how our family currently strives to live more and give more.

Oh and Ryan got one too! ;) He blogged about his inevitable tattoo a few years ago. He finally got it…we are always better together. The shirt on his “running man” is orange, which is significant because my Dad’s favorite shirt was orange. He wore it all the time. Here is Ryan’s, I love it too!

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Bundle up & get out there!

This morning as I sat in the warmth of my home under a blanket, I really didn’t feel like getting out to go run. It’s a cold day here in East Texas, the morning started out in the early 30’s! But I kept thinking to myself, I have a half marathon coming up in just a few short weeks – I have got to go run. I have a goal. So finally after much head debate, I got up and put my running clothes on. Long pants, a headband to cover my ears, gloves, a scarf. I bundled up and headed out the door grabbing my ear buds and a water. After getting to the trails and beginning my run, I was immediately glad I was there. It felt good. The sun was shining down on me and the beautiful colors of Fall just made it that much sweeter. I thought to myself as I was finishing up…how often do we allow the circumstances in life prohibit us from going after our goals? How often do we allow distractions, schedules, negativity, obligations, etc. hinder us from accomplishing action steps that get us closer to that goal? If you have something you are shooting for, I encourage you to keep going after it. Make time for it. Figure out how to make it work. Whether that goal is in regards to running, your career, your family, your walk with the Lord, whatever the case may be. Don’t give up on your goal! Whatever each day brings, don’t let the cold & wind get in your way. Bundle up & get out there! It will be well worth it. And remember, the journey to your goal is the most important part.  Much love, Traci

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