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

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…

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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#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…

#focused15

  • 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…

Print

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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The skinny on what’s been going on…

I just wanted to update you all on our journey with It Works! Global. As you all know, I signed up as a distributor back in January. It has truly been an amazing ride! The opportunity to get in on the ground level of a Christian based company that is growing exponentially has been huge for our family. The company has grown over 400% since the beginning of the year. They set an annual goal of $100 million for 2012…it’s only July and we’ve already accomplished this mission! With our “first to market” product, the Ultimate Body Applicator, and our all-natural supplements, this company continues to grow & expand by leaps & bounds. The crazy part is, this is only the beginning of things to come! The market is not saturated by any means and there are still so many areas & people that have yet to hear about It Works!

Ryan & I have been thoroughly impressed with not only the products but the people in the company. The corporate leadership team truly cares about the distributors and strive to help us as much as they can achieve our goals. They provide all the tools you need to be successful in this business. They strive to help families get out of debt. They want to put cash in our pockets, not just reward distributors with cars or other gifts, which I like! The CEO & his wife are precious, Christian people (former teachers & coaches), that care & pray for us daily. They have a servant leadership perspective which is why I believe their company is so blessed. We just spent this last weekend in Florida at a corporate training event with all of these awesome people and are coming home pumped & inspired! We definitely feel we are in the right place at the right time.

I wanted to share this with you guys for two reasons. First, if any of you (or anyone you know) has an interest in joining my team & jumping on board this great opportunity, let me know! I would love to help you get started. I get excited to share about it and would be happy to call you or email info. It is changing our lives and the lives of several of our friends & family every day. We have been able to start multiple savings accounts, get out of debt, give more, and travel more! It all sort of feels surreal and we are so, so thankful. The thing I love is that you don’t have to be a salesperson to be successful- you just share & people want these amazing products! Second, please pray for Ryan & I as our business & team continues to grow. We want to be good stewards with what God has blessed us with. We cling to the verse in Luke, “to whom much is given, much is required” and want to honor God along this journey. We also want to be good leaders as we help others reach their goals in this company.

Thank you all so much for your support & prayers!

Give me a push.

We went for a run a few mornings ago and then let the girls ride their bikes afterwards. They love to ride bikes at the trails. Their little legs get quite a workout! Towards the end of our loop around the park, Addi was getting tired and would ask me for a push. I would gently push her along and she would peddle for a while and then need another push. Kam is pretty fearless when it comes to riding bikes…she whips around, goes up & down hills like nobody’s business. Addi on the other hand it a bit more timid, we really have to coach and encourage her. It constantly amazes me how different our girls are.

Anyways, as I walked along side my babies that day, I got to thinking. I hope & pray I can always be there for my girls when they need a little push in life. Those times when things get downright hard, when they set a goal to accomplish something, when their hearts get broken, there’s a big test at school, a friend lets them down, they lose the game, they want to try something new, etc. I want to be there for them when they need me most. To help them keep going. To press into Christ, learn from mistakes, grow in trials, and move on. To keep on keepin’ on, as my Dad used to say. We tell our girls all the time, “Dixons don’t give up!” I want to encourage them to be the best they can be while loving them the best that I can. I want to motivate them to achieve their dreams and accomplish their goals. I want them to know that mommy loves them no matter what and I will always be there to give them a little push when they need it.

I love these two and thank God for them and the way they push me to strive to be a better person.

Our chopping block is a “beautiful thing.”

One of Ryan & I’s favorite shows on the Food Network is called Chopped. The premise of the show is that four competitors are given a basket full of odd ingredients (i.e. baby octopus, bok choy, animal crackers, etc.) & they have to create quality & tasty dishes which, as you can imagine, is very tough. First round is to create an appetizer dish within a certain time limit. Then, each dish is judged by a panel of experienced & knowledgable chefs lined up on a chopping block looking table. One dish is “chopped” and that competitor is out of the game. The next round is the entree dish. Same thing…given another basket of weird ingredients to make an entree dish within 30 minutes. Judged. One dish is chopped and on to the final round. Dessert. Two competitors are left and fight to win this kitchen battle. There is always sweat, sometimes blood, and often times tears. The unchopped winner gets $10,000 and usually has a neat story as to what their plans are with the money. Is it weird to cry while watching Food Network? This show gets me every time!

Watching this show the other night got me thinking about my Dad. He taught me a lot during his life here but I continue to learn from him even through his death, his legacy. You see, he made Ryan & I this chopping block a few years ago. He wanted to make us something when we moved into our house in Tyler as a “house warming gift.” He knew we loved cooking & this made for the perfect gift. My Dad was a master craftsman. God blessed him so much in this way, he was a true talent. He could take an old, plain piece of wood and make it beautiful. In fact, he used to say that one of his favorite things to do was “making beautiful things for people he loved.” He was giddy about it anytime he had the opportunity to use this gift of his to give to others. This chopping block has sat on our kitchen counter and has been used almost daily for the past several years. And every single time I use it or look at it, I think of Dad and brings a smile to my face, sometimes tears to my eyes. I love that we have this gift that is so much more than just a piece of wood – it holds so many sweet memories and reminds me of my Dad’s love.

I want to/need to give more to those that I love. I can’t build a darn thing, I’m not talking about wood here. I am not a crafty person! But what I can do is give more freely of quality time, more love, more support, more memory makers, more laughter, more shared meals, more of a shoulder to cry on, more help to those in need. These can be “beautiful things.” I pray that what God blesses me with, I can in turn be a blessing to others. I want to live with my hands and arms wide open. This was actually one of my New Year’s resoultions: Give more. Any selfishness of mine needs to be chopped.

Reset Button

Do you ever have those days where you feel like you’ve just been slammed, have one thing to do after the other, email after email, phone call after phone call, appointment after appointment, your head is spinning, places to go & people to see all the time and on & on & on…and then repeat. That seems to be my life as of lately. Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not complaining…life is good and the things occupying my time are good. Awesome, really. It’s just BUSY! I have a feeling I’m not alone here. Or maybe I am just weird?

I told Ryan last night, I feel like I need a reset button. You know when your phone is acting all crazy doing weird things and so you just hold down the power button until it shuts down and then comes back on again. Reset and then it works. Or your computer is stuck on something, the little dealy won’t stop spinning, or something isn’t opening correctly. Push restart. Reset and then it works. This is what I need. I need to completely reset. I need some time to shut down, recharge and start back again so I can be at my full potential. A sabbath. God told us this was important and I can see why, especially the older I get. Lately, other than my 7 hours of sleep, I haven’t had anytime like that…just peace and quiet.

This reset for me is usually long distance running. Of which I have been taking a mini break from since the marathon. I’ve gone a few times to the Y to run a few miles on the treadmill. But that’s about it & is such a short time, it doesn’t really count. I’m ready to get back to it and soon. Hours away to think and process and pray. I need & desire this time several times a week for my own sanity (and for the betterment of my entire family!).

What are ways you reset or recharge?

Maybe Ryan & I just need to escape for a few days to the mountains for a camping trip. What do you say, babe?

My New Life.

I am about to begin a whole new life. One that I’ve only really imagined possible up to this point.

God moves in great ways. I am actually humbled and taken-back that He finds me valuable enough to bless me with the life He has. Seriously. It’s recently brought me to tears when I look back at His ever powerful, ever guiding hand in my life. This change for us is no exception.

I am thrilled to announce that I have accepted a new career with Pearson Education as a Multimedia Course Developer. I will be developing video tutorials and learning resources for the #1 educational eBook publisher in the World. This career will bring about many positives for the Dixon family. I begin on the 19th and am ecstatic about the changes.

Here are just a few of the changes…

My new commute.
My new office space.
My new cafeteria.
My new office building.

I found out about this opportunity about a month ago from my sis-in-law Jen, applied and was granted the opportunity to do some sample work as part of a “test” to check out the candidates. I was asked to build a presentation based on this graphic/script.

Here is my video submission. Click it!

Later I received a call requesting a “get to know you” interview, interviewed and was later offered the position.

I am amazed and once again humbled to be able to take on this role and am so excited about not only the changes for the Dixon family but being able to really utilize my trade skills to a higher level.

  • Audio experience, check.
  • Graphics experience, check.
  • Teaching experience, check.

This is my new life.

Inexpressible joy?

1st Peter 1:8-9

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.  The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Do I exhibit “inexpressible joy” was a question I posed to myself this morning. Do I?

Saturday night Traci and I attended another Switchfoot concert. Everytime I listen intently to their lyrics or attend one of their concerts, I can’t help but come away with a sense of urgency to truly live life. I know that might seem extreme but it really does. Every album since the beginning of their history is all about motivating people to live a life worth living. It is after all, very short. I left the concert Saturday night wanting to fight the world, save all the orphans and live life without the day to day funk.

I really want to have the joy that Peter mentions in this passage. I really, really do. I want my life to be more “half full”; heck… overflowing right? “My cup runs over” is how I really want it. Obviously life is a grind. Even the book of Ecclesiastes is all about life, the struggle of it and inevitable death.

In reflecting on this verse it spoke to me.

To me the answer to living a life full of inexpressible joy is in the preceding lines.

Peter, whom if you remember did life with Jesus for 3 years and even fellowshipped with Jesus after he rose from the dead says,

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him;

Obviously he is speaking to those who have chosen to embrace the reality of Jesus. People who “see Him through faith”. He says that even though we are not an eye witness of Jesus, His miracles, His love and His realness as Peter did personally, our faith is what produces this “inexpressible joy”; this joy that cannot be robbed by circumstances.

I find it no coincidence that this passage comes from a man who took those steps out of the boat that one night. Peter saw Jesus with his own eyes and stepped out of the boat and began walking on the water toward Him. Then, he lost his focus and began to sink.

I guess my take away and something that I am planning to really focus on this week especially is, “Does my faith in my future life trump the funk in my present”? I want it too. I want my faith, love and trust in Him to pick me up off the floor and live the life worth living. I need to keep my eyes focused on him and my perspective, heavenly.

Don’t you?

Here is the bridge and chorus to “Afterlife” by Switchfoot.

Yo Gabba Gabba says it best.

Yesterday morning, I went out for an 8 miler. My last long run before the Tyler Half Marathon coming up this next Sunday. {Yay for Fall race season!} The weather was awesome – a fresh, long awaited crispness was in the air. I  was also well rested having slept nearly 10 hours the night before – that never happens! However when my feet hit the pavement, those first few miles were tough as always. These initial miles on a long run are usually the hardest for me. In fact, I’ve written a whole post on here before about the middle miles.

It seriously takes me a good few miles to find my groove and start to feel “into it”. This day was no exception. As I was approaching mile 3, I reached this level of happiness that running brings me. My steps and breathing have found a rhythm, my legs have worked out the soreness, my thoughts are becoming less clouded and more positive. Then it occurred to me…what if I gave up before then? What if I never allowed myself to get past the first few tough miles to get to these precious middle miles that I long for and that strengthen me in many ways on many levels? I would miss out on a lot. I would never be able to run a half marathon, much less a full! It’s because I push through the first few miles that are challenging mentally and physically that I’m able to enjoy the benefits and joy of running longer distances. And trust me, I’m not saying I have it down by any means. I’ve had my fair share of days of giving up, whether it be with running or other things.

But why do people generally give up on a goal or a dream? Because it gets tough, right? Whatever it might be – losing weight, working out, paying off debt, starting a business, bettering a relationship, traveling the world, walking a tight rope {anyone watch Modern Family last week?} And typically it’s at the very beginning stages of this attempt that giving up happens. What if we pushed through those hard times and with the Lord’s help & strength we pressed on? How much more often would goals be accomplished & dreams be reached if that were the case? If God impresses something on your heart to achieve, then He will give you exactly what you need to accomplish it. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. What is your goal? What do you dream of? What’s holding you back from taking the first step? Here’s my encouragement to you….start running towards that goal! The first few miles will most likely be tough and you will want to give up, but press on. Keep running. Don’t get discouraged. When you reach the middle miles, you will be glad you did & realize you are that much closer to reaching the finish line of accomplishing that dream. It’s within reach. Don’t just dream about it, DO IT.

In the words of the great & wise philosopher, Yo Gabba Gabba, “Keep trying, keep trying. Don’t give up, never give up.” ;)

Upcoming.

I love Fall for many, many reasons. You may remember…I’ve posted many a blog about why Fall is dear to my heart. But mainly in a nutshell it’s this: cooler temps, pumpkin spice candles, additional coffee, scarves, races we run, camping, holidays, and all the time off Ryan has which equals more memory making for our family!

Here are some things that are upcoming that I am super excited about.

  • In a week & a half, we’ll be running in the Tyler Rose Half Marathon. The starting line is about a mile from our house. I always love doing races right here in our beautiful city.
  • In two & a half weeks, Ryan, Jeff & I will be heading to Longview to see Switchfoot AND Anberlin in concert. What?!!! Seriously, two of our all time favorite bands. Together. On the SAME NIGHT. We are stoked!
  • Five weeks from tonight, we’ll be packing to leave for New Hampshire & Boston! We are registered to run in the Manchester Half Marathon. I can not wait for this trip. We had such a great time last year. You can read all about it here and here.
  • In eight weeks and a day, it will be Thanksgiving. In 12 & a half weeks, Christmas. Wow! Another year, flown by. Also, Ryan’s parents are coming in from Virginia for Christmas, we are looking forward to seeing them!
  • In eleven & a half weeks, my baby girl Kam turns FOUR! We will celebrate with a “hot chocolate” party as per her request.
  • In fifteen & half weeks, Ryan & I will be running our very first FULL marathon in Houston.

Busy Overdose

Sorry we’ve been slacking on the blog front! Apparently life took  an extra dose of busy over the last few weeks and forgot to tell us. So, we’ve been running around like mad trying to catch up to it! As of today, we are just now getting back into a somewhat normal routine. Here are some updates from the last few weeks…

*I entered my mom into a Facebook contest that Sterling Grace, a local jewelry store, was doing in honor of Mother’s Day. They were asking people to submit a vintage photo of their mom along with a story of something “old school” she still does. The winner would get a $300 jewelry makeover. We looked through, found the perfect photo, wrote an entry with the help of my siblings, and submitted it! And…SHE WON! She had a blast picking out her new jewelry. Such a neat store with beautiful stuff! Here was the entry:

*We got to go to the Chuy’s VIP Sneak Preview Event! Remember when this happened? I kept hearing rumors about Chuy’s opening here in Tyler so I decided to email someone and get to the bottom of it. I found the email address for the VP of Real Estate & Development on the Chuy’s website and sent him a little email (what? you gotta do what you gotta do when it comes to creamy jalapeno!). Well, he confirmed it right away and then because of that very email (and my friend Joe Terrell) it made the news! Anyways, my new BFF Michael Hatcher invited me to this VIP Sneak Preview night – how fun! I was totally giddy about the whole thing and impressed that he remembered me. We got to order whatever we wanted off the menu – it was all free and delicious! First time being a VIP & I felt like all that & a bag of chips w/creamy jalapeno, of course.

*Ryan has been working so hard for hours & hours on finishing up the mixing & mastering of our church’s live recording and it sounds amazing! I am SO proud of him. His talent truly blows me away. Our friend & worship pastor, Jon Jenz, just sent off the final disk today to be duplicated & hopefully it will be up for sale close to mid-month. So exciting! We are blessed to have such talent in our church to lead us as we worship our creator each week. Can’t wait to see the final art & have an album in hand! Proud of Jon, his team & my audio engineer hubs!

*I turned 31. Wow. I’m officially beyond 30 – like actually IN my 30’s now. How did that happen? This year’s birthday was bittersweet. Sweet because I got to hang out with dear friends, enjoy good food & wine, and felt massive amounts of love for which I am beyond thankful. Bitter because all I could think about was last year’s birthday and what happened exactly one week later. Realization that this was the first birthday without my dad brought sadness and tears, but at the same time, it brought even more determination and motivation to make this next year count. I’ll strive to “keep on keepin’ on” as a 31 year old to make memories, hopefully make a difference, and live each day to the fullest.

*We went on a fabulous canoe trip with friends on Buffalo River in Arkansas. It was, in one word: amazing. We drove up to the river, literally unpacked our cars into the canoe and took off for 3 days. Canoeing during the day & camping on the rocky shore at night. The river was gorgeous and very clear! Who knew bathing in a river could be so refreshing?! The river had a steady flow to it, so canoeing was relaxing and peaceful- minus the sporadic splash fight ambushes. :) Oh, and there was this one incident of me crashing into a tree, getting scraped & bruised up and almost flipping our canoe, but other than that it was peaceful! At least now I have a story to tell. This trip was seriously just what we needed at this time in our lives. God, as usual, couldn’t have coordinated the timing any better really. With June 4th approaching, this gave us time to breathe, reflect, cry, set new goals, and just be still.

*The High 5 to the Sky 5K is coming up this Saturday, so we are working on final details for that. We ordered 80 shirts for all those who preregistered and each day, more come trickling in! The charity that we are donating all proceeds to, Project 7, is just thrilled and are providing water and other items for all race participants. So great & overwhelming to have such support as we celebrate the life of my dad in this way. This event will be such a special tribute and we appreciate all of you who are helping us make it special!

*Addi & Kam are LOVING summer. All throughout April, Addi would ask, “is it summer yet?” They have been waiting patiently for swimming weather. This year we have several options of places to swim and they are absolutely eating it up. Our neighbors have a pool, my little brother Jeff has a pool at his apartment, and several other friends have pools too! Bonus. So we’ve been swimming a lot since the weather turned warmer and the girls couldn’t be happier. I think they might be part fish! Or as they would tell you, mermaids.