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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#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…

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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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I just love you so much.

We have designated every Wednesday night as “Dixon Family Night” in 2012. It was one of Ryan & I’s New Year’s resolutions – to set aside one night each week that we marked on our calendar and would not schedule anything with anyone else on that particular night. These nights would be different than other regular nights filled with homework, reading, chores, laundry, etc- we would specifically do something fun & different together. Just our little family.

We have done a variety of different things thus far. Sometimes we stay home and play games like Trouble or Hi Ho Cherry-O. Sometimes we rent a new movie, put on cozy pj’s and munch on popcorn as we all snuggle on the couch together. Sometimes (like tonight) we go out for ice cream and to the Just a Dollar store to let the girls pick out one treat each…”anything you want in the whole entire store!” It’s very exciting as you can imagine. ;) We have really enjoyed these nights and cherish the special memories that we are making with our girls at this age.

Tonight as we were sitting in TCBY enjoying our yummy frozen treat, Kamryn randomly looked up with watery eyes and her chocolate covered mouth and said, “Mommy, I’m so glad you are my Mommy. And Daddy, I’m so glad you are my Daddy. I think I’m gonna cry because I just love you so so much!” Melt my heart. The girl literally had tears welling up in her eyes as she spoke. Here was our sweet four year old daughter expressing how much she loved us and how thankful she was that we were her parents. PRECIOUS. What a sweet moment & one that I want to remember (especially when she becomes a teenager!)…so I came right home and documented here on our blog.

Baby girl, I thank God everyday He gave us you & Addi and let us be your parents! What a great blessing and amazing gift. I just love you so much too.

My heart is full.

I blinked. They told me this would happen.

To my dear Addison Kate,

Today I took you school supply shopping. I’m not exactly sure how this happened given that just a few days ago, you looked like this…

But it’s true. You begin a brand new phase of life on Monday. You start Kindergarten! People have always told us not to blink because our kids will grow up so quick. I’m really starting to believe it now, sweet girl. I blinked and here we are.

Today, as we shopped for crayons, glue sticks, and big girl jeans, my heart was bursting with pride and tears filled my eyes. I love you so much, I can hardly stand it. Your curious mind, tender heart and fun sense of humor are such a joy to your Daddy & I, baby girl. I know you will absolutely love school. Your love of learning, structure, and schedules will help you adjust to this new phase quite well, no doubt. You are a social butterfly and are so kind to others, I know you will make new friends quickly. I’m sure your teacher will appreciate you helping her, as I know you will, to organize, instruct, and control your classmates. The excitement in your eyes when we talk about Kindergarten thrills me and eases my anxiety. You aren’t nervous at all like Mommy is, you are so brave!

As we left the store today, you said, “Mommy, hold my hand.” It was all I could do, as I felt your little hand in mine, to not start crying right then and there while walking to the car. I thought to myself how I wish I could go with you to Kindergarten and hold your sweet hand. You know, just to make sure you get through the day OK. Wipe your shirt off when you spill on it, wash your hands before lunch in the cafeteria, dry your tears if you fall down in the big huge hallway, and straighten your hair after recess. But I can’t, big girl. And you probably wouldn’t even want that knowing you! I reminded myself that you are a gift to us straight from the Lord. You ultimately belong to Him and we just have the amazing honor to care for you, help you learn and grow, and love on you like crazy for as long as we have each other here on this earth. And you know what? HE will be holding your hand at school every single day, which is even more important! That brings gobs of comfort to Mommy’s heart and it should your’s too. You are in good hands, punkin. And when that bell rings each afternoon, I will be right there waiting for you. Excited to hear all about your day as I know you will have much to say, as always.

I love you Addison Kate and I love being your Mommy. We are proud of you and know that God has great things in store for your life. Now…I’m gonna try hard not to blink again because I’m certainly not ready for any graduation or marriage ceremonies!

Your love remains the same.

A few days ago, I went up the gym to run & lift weights…change up the pace a little from running outside in this miserable heat. While pounding the treadmill trying to get in a quick 3 miles (which is about all I can handle on that blasted thing), I listened to the Jeremy Camp “Stay” album. Good stuff. His songwriting has always inspired and encouraged me. There is one song in particular that has stuck with me all week…one line from it really…

“Nothing I can do, nothing I can say
Can make You love me more, Your love remains the same.”

I love this line. I’ve been soaking in this all week. How sweet is it to know that there is really nothing we can do or say that will make God love us anymore than He already does? Think about that. His love is truly unconditional. It remains the same. He already knows the mistakes we’ll make in the future, but still loves us. He knows our past, but chooses to toss it. He knows our every thought, but still thought enough of us to send His son. Amazing really. His love astounds me! We should feel comfort in that and complete security.

I recently attended the Girls Night In event at my church. Sheila Walsh was the speaker that night and it was awesome. Her testimony was so neat to hear! She talked about how Jesus came for the broken – and we are all broken. She spent a majority of her life trying to win the approval of God by being the best “christian” she could be – wearing the right clothes, participating in a ton of church ministries, being friends with the right people, etc. Not that those things are bad, but she said she was doing them for the wrong reason. Then, after wearing herself way too thin and some other traumatic experiences, she came to the realization that it was not about winning His approval. She didn’t have to do that. It was about accepting his LOVE. It’s not about us – it’s all about Him. There’s nothing we can do, nothing we can say to make Him love us more – His love remains the same. Wow. That should spur us on to 1. love Him more (worship) and 2. love others more!

“…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:17-19

Girl talk.

Today on the way home from school, Addi was talking (no shocker here) about what she wants to name her two girls when she has kids. Cute how she just assumes she will have two girls like I do! She said she would name one Haley and the other Janie. I asked her what their middle names would be to which she knowingly responded, “I’ll probably let my husband give them middle names.” Good plan. This comment quickly led to another discussion…as like most all our conversations, jumping from one thing to the next like a spastic ping pong tournament. She said, “Momma, I don’t know what my husband’s face will look like or what his name is.” I told her that she will meet him one day in the future. One day far down the road, a long time from now, when she’s older, like waaaaaaaaaaay later. [I mean, good grief give this momma a break and let Kindergarden get under way. I’m already an emotional mess about that one. I know I’ll blink once and she’ll be walking down the aisle!] She said, “Where will I meet him?” I told her maybe at college or church and they will become friends and then fall in love and then get married like Momma & Daddy. Bounce, on to the next subject…”Momma, when are we going to the Ranger’s game?”

This quick little conversation got me thinking. I pray all the time for present things for my children: for them to have a good day at school, for them to sleep well, for protection from injury and sickness, to not potty in the bed or suck their fingers, etc. But one area I have neglected is their future – maybe because I’m not ready for them to grow up! I really do need to spend more time praying for the women they will become, for them to seek after Jesus in all they do as they continue to grow, and for their future spouses. So, I made a new goal today as a Mommy. I want to begin praying now for those two little boys out there in the world that will one day grow up and marry my two little girls.

Addi’s right, we don’t know his name or what his face will look like. Only God knows what the future holds. I pray now that whoever this beautiful, precious girl gives her heart to one day will treat it, hold it, protect it, comfort it, nurture it in the same way my spouse does mine! Thankful for Ryan and the example he is to our girls. God truly did answer my prayer (and I’m sure my own mother’s prayer) by giving me a spouse like him!

A weekend in Spring.

This weather has been amazing! Spring is like a breath of fresh air. It just feels good. Things start to come alive again. Flowers are blooming, grass and trees are turning green, more people are out and about in our neighborhood…it’s refreshing and good for the soul!

After being cooped up all winter, the girls are loving all of the outdoor time we’ve been having. And so are we. This past weekend was great. The weather was perfect. We ran, we spent an evening lakeside at Brown’s Landing with friends, we swung on the swings that Poppy built, we grilled, we sat by the fire pit under the huge moon, the girls rode their bikes a ton (they are getting so good at it!), we played with frizbees and some other random made-up games. It was so nice!

I’m thankful to our Creator for creating Spring and all of it’s beauty. Just more evidence of how He loves us!

Truck full.

Thoughts of my Dad are with me daily. Memories are cherished and not a day goes by that I don’t miss him. I imagine it will be like this until I join him in heaven. Sometimes it’s consuming. Sometimes it makes me cry. Sometimes it makes me smile. Last night was a time that made me smile.

Ryan and I went on a date. We met some friends to check out the new BJ’s Brewhouse for dinner and had a fabulous time. Great food and great conversation, it was a good night. When Ryan and I left the house to go out, we loaded up in my Dad’s old truck. We are borrowing it for a while as we are trying to sell our car and attack some old business debt. As we got in, I was overcome with emotion and a huge smile covered my face. This was the first time I’ve ridden in it since June 4th. The truck smelled like Dad. Saw dust formed a thin layer on the seat and in the floor boards crevices. Memories flooded my mind of riding in an even older blue truck with my Dad when I was a little girl. He used to take me “deer hunting” on the old country back roads in Quitman. We would sing songs like “Doe a deer, a female deer. Ray, a drop of golden sun…” and see how many deer we could see. We would just count them, not kill them. That was our deer hunting. We’d get back home and report to Mom how many deer were found. Silly, but fun for a little girl. Even then, making memories was important in our house.

I loved being in the truck last night. My Dad would have liked that we were driving it as we went on a date and making new memories. He loved Ryan like a son – and this fills my heart and makes me even more thankful for my husband. It’s amazing how something like a truck can be filled with so much.

Our love story.

When people ask me where Ryan & I met, a chuckle always accompanies my response. “We met at church.” Sounds so good right? Like we both were praising Jesus, looked ever at each other, met up after Bible study for a coffee, and fell smack dab in love. NOT! Wasn’t like that at all. Hence the reason for my chuckle.

We did meet at church. BUT honestly, we were both heathens (aren’t we all really?) and totally not at church for the right reasons. My Dad was the pastor and Ryan’s parents were members of our church. We were in college at the time and were both separately living lives that weren’t honoring the Lord at all. But even though we both were acting a fool, we still went to church on Sundays just to make our parents happy. I honestly don’t remember meeting Ryan the first time. He says when he met me, he thought I was a stuck up goody goody. Isn’t that sweet? Truthfully, I was probably too tired from partying it up all night to even care who he was. And he was probably cranky from partying it up all night and thought I was a snob. Romance at its finest!

But, here’s what I do remember. The story of how we fell in love and how God worked everything out in an amazing way…

It was the summer of 1999 when I decided it was time to stop messing around and return to my first love, Jesus. I was tired of my life and it was time to get real. I knew I was living in sin, doing things I knew were wrong, making one mistake after the other, and involved in failed relationships. Full of regret and conviction, I ran back to my Creator asking for forgiveness and renewed determination to be a dedicated disciple of Christ. I’m thankful for His grace. Crazy thing…that same summer God was stirring the exact same thing in Ryan’s heart. We both started attending the College ministry at our church separately, as well as the typical and expected Sunday morning service. This is when I really remember meeting Ryan…at C.L.A.Y. (the name of our College group). Created Accepted Loved and Yielding to God…very fitting to say the least. We were both broken, finding our way back, tired and worn. We were hungry and thirsty. In our pursuit to “straighten up”, we became friends. Best friends in fact.

Over the next year, we hung out consistently. My roommate, another guy from church, Ryan & myself hung out as a group every weekend and often times throughout the week. We did everything together. But there was something different about my new group of friends…we were all desiring to honor God in all we did. These friendships that were made during this time of my life mean the world to me. These people encouraged me, built me up, taught me…we learned so much and saw God move. It was a great year. Such a pivotal point in my walk with the Lord. There is no doubt in my mind that God graciously provided these friends to me in this particular time of my life. I’m thankful for His provisions.

Spring of 2000, we went to Austin – us four friends. We went to SXSW music festival and had an amazing week. It was during this week that I fell in love with Ryan. Something in me just clicked. It went from “he’s my friend” to “I’m gonna marry him one day.” Turning point for sure! After we returned home, the atmosphere was changing in our friendship and we both could feel it. Something was different. I knew what it was because I knew in my heart this was the man I was going to marry! But, Ryan wasn’t quite sure. Well…one night, Ryan broke up with me before we were even dating! He and I went to a movie together – alone. Afterwards, we were pulling up to my apartment, so he could drop me off. Ryan looked over at me and said, “I think we should just stay friends. We are too good of friends to mess this up with a relationship.” That’s my paraphrased version, anyways. And I said, “I disagree with you completely, but I’ll accept it and we will be friends.” Even though I wanted to beg him to stop being silly and wake up and see we were meant to be together, I didn’t. I kept my mouth shut, which is very unlike me. I felt at peace with this. I never doubted that God had brought us together and I still felt in my heart this was the man for me, I just needed to wait patiently. I am thankful for His wisdom.

Fast forward to the summer of that year. We continued being “just friends”, hanging out consistently, growing in our walk with the Lord, etc. We went on a mission trip to Mexico with a group from church. I continued to fall harder in love with Ryan even after he “broke up” with me. But he will tell you – it was on this mission trip that he realized he was in love with me. Then came August 20th, 2000. The day he asked me to get coffee after Bible Study. We ordered our typical espresso shake and sat on the patio of one of our favorite coffee shops. He looked over at me while I’m slurping up my shake and said, “Traci, I wanted to talk to you about something.” Hoping and praying of what would come next, I held my breath and said, “OK.” He went on, “I would love for you to be my girlfriend.” My heart was SO incredibly full in this moment! Even as I type this, I feel like a little girl at Christmas. My tearful response was, “I’ve been waiting for you to ask!” I am thankful for His perfect timing. We finished our shake, got back in the car and prayed. Prayed that God would bless this new adventure. This relationship that we knew was one that was beautifully orchestrated by Him. I am thankful for His love.

Two years later on August 20, 2002, he proposed. A little over four months later, we were married. After 8 years of marriage and 11 years of friendship, I still thank God daily for my man. My best friend. My valentine!!!

How to NOT make a good first impression.

Thanks to Uncle Jeff babysitting for us, Ryan and I got to go out on a date last night. Since we’ve only lived here in Tyler for less than two years & don’t eat out all that often because we love to cook, there are still many restaurants on our list of places we want to try. Well, last night we were excited to try one of those places. Because I am a planner (or as some would call it – OCD), I went online, made reservations, emailed Ryan the list of beers, looked over the menu and even had picked out a few dishes and appetizers that sounded good. Do you do this too, or am I really weird?

Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out like we had hoped.

Below are the two interactions we had while at this particular restaurant that made us decide to wait and come back another night. We walked in (to a nearly empty restaurant) and up to the hostess stand and here’s how it went down…

Conversation #1:

Hostess, “Hello. Table for 2?”

Me, “Yes, please.”

Hostess, “Sorry, we don’t have our regular menu tonight, we only have this special Valentine’s menu…I hope that’s OK.”

Me & Ryan, “OK, thanks.”

Hostess, “I don’t know what to recommend because I don’t like food.”

Ryan, “You don’t like food?”

Hostess, “I mean, I like food. I’m just a picky eater. So I probably wouldn’t like any of that.”

Me & Ryan, “Um, OK”

Great sale there hostess. We continue to our table and sit down, only to be greeted by our server:

Conversation #2:

Server, “Hi. (hugh sigh) Whew, tonight’s already been that kind of a night. Sorry.”

Me, “Ah oh, sorry to hear that. So, this Valentine’s menu is all that is offered tonight, we can’t order off the regular menu?”

Server, “No, sorry. That’s all we have. I’ll give you a few minutes to look over the menu. What would you like to drink?”

Me & Ryan: “Water for now.”

Server walks away and Ryan and I take a look at this one page Valentine’s Menu that everyone seems so excited about. Everything was marked up. There was only about 1/3 of their regular menu items and nothing that I had picked out online was on there. [side note: see, case & point of why I am a planner!] Sea bass for $35 was not really what we had in mind. We both looked at each other laughing and said, “Let’s go somewhere else!”

We tossed the “trying something new” for the evening and headed to one of our local faves and had a fabulous meal and an even better date. Have I told you lately how much I love my husband and how thankful I am for him? How cute is he? He even wore a tie! When he walked out of our room after getting ready for the night, the girls asked him, “Daddy, what is that on your neck?” HA!

Love him.

Speaking their language.

I’ve always heard about “love languages” when it comes to your spouse…how to love him the way he desires to be loved. You’ve probably heard of the book by Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages. Such a great book and very eye opening! If you’ve never read it or looked into this concept, you should. In fact, there is a quick quiz that you can take to discover what your love language is, if you aren’t really sure. Knowing these things about yourself and your spouse is so incredibly helpful and will really benefit your marriage! Anyways, it wasn’t until recently that Ryan & I thought about the fact that our children each have their own love language already too! We are all wired differently and different things make us tick. Our kids are no exception! In fact, tonight I just noticed online that Gary Chapman also wrote a book called The Five Love Languages of Children.

Ryan and I have talked about this a lot recently…it really is so interesting to me. Once you realize the language that speaks directly to the heart of someone you love, so many things make more sense! Communicating and expressing your love becomes easier.

Here’s what we have figured out about each of our kids…

Addi’s top love language is words of affirmation, followed closely with quality time. No doubt in our minds. When you praise her about something, she just lights up. Telling her how great the picture is that she just colored, talking about how good she’s doing in school, how proud you are of her, and the nice way she treated her friends, etc. These things make her smile bigger than any other time. She also tells us how much she loves us all the time. “Mommy, I love you.” Words, of course, that always melt my heart. It’s very apparent that she also enjoys quality time. One on one time. Tonight, before I put them to bed I was thinking about all of this and so I asked her, “Addi would you rather me tell you I love you or give you a hug to show you my love?” And she responded knowingly without any hesitation, “I’d rather you take me to the park!” Hahaha…she’s a smart one. But she’s right, she does like for you to spend time with her doing activities, puzzles, games, coloring, cooking, playing, etc. You can tell it makes her feel special when you schedule time for just her. Although she may not want to sit in your lap or even close to you, she wants you to be in the same room. She likes the closeness and security of that.

Kam’s main love language is most definitely physical touch. She is our cuddle bug and has been since birth. Always wants to sit in one of our laps, be held, give big bear hugs, kisses (or smackers as we call them), dance, hold hands, etc. When we put her to bed at night, she will gently rub my face with her hand. She loves to comb Daddy’s hair or massage his back, which he loves and never turns down the offer. She still likes to be rocked. When we drop her off at school or in her class at church, she always has to kiss the top of our hands before we can leave. She also has used the same blanket since she was an infant…it’s actually her crib bedding! She carries it around everywhere and can’t go to sleep without holding it close. Every morning, she walks up the hall carrying her blanky and comes to climb in my lap for a while before we do breakfast. So stinkin sweet. Whenever I’m feeling down or having a tough day, I can always count on these sweet tender moments with her as we cuddle. I adore this about her!

I love our precious daughters and their sweet little hearts. I love how different they are. I love how they love. Our prayer as parents is that we can always speak their language so they understand, and never doubt, that Mommy & Daddy love them unconditionally!

The perfect date.

My hair was in a messy ponytail and makeup mostly sweated off. We were both in our running clothes still from our jaunt through the South Tyler trails earlier that evening. We were at home with the sounds of girls chatting and giggling in their bedroom. And we had the best date ever.

To celebrate our 8 year anniversary, we cooked and enjoyed a quiet dinner together right at home. Since we just went out on New Year’s Eve, we decided this sounded very appealing. After enjoying some quality time with our precious daughters, we put them to bed at their normal 8:00 bedtime. Poured a glass of wine, put on some relaxing tunes and started cooking one of our favorite meals: spinach & pork pot stickers with veggie fried rice. Delish. We cooked away, talking, and even stopping for a little slow dance while the smell of ginger filled the room. Gosh, I love my man.

We sat down to eat at our candlelit pub table decorated with the beautiful flowers Ryan bought me (& the girls) earlier that day. As we prayed together, tears filled my eyes and my heart was overflowing. Ryan gave me a card that he made and wrote. His creativity and way with words always astounds me. I absolutely adore his cards and his thoughtfulness. We enjoyed our tasty meal while talking about the past 8 years and our goals for our future. It was special.

The perfect date, if you ask me. I could not ask for a better person to share this life with. I love you, Ryan! More and more with every year that passes.