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 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 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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Our Valentine’s Day Adventure

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

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Will never take it for granted!

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

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#focused15

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

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

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

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

Much love,

Traci

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.

Messy Night.

Tonight after dinner, I was doing my nightly ritual of cleaning up. You know, the usual…dishes, wiping the table & faces, picking up the toys on the kitchen floor as well as the socks and shoes that I’ve tripped on a few times, etc. After starting the bath water, I continued cleaning up books in the hallway and then on into the girls’ room which was utterly disastrous. Stuff was everywhere. I honestly felt annoyed by all the mess. If you know me, you know I prefer order and organization. Things have a place and they belong in that place. And just as some not nice words were about to escape my mouth and regrettably enter loudly into the house for all to hear, something smacked me in the face (and heart) so hard that tears came to my eyes.

You see, at this very moment there is a mommy out there in my city who is mourning the loss of her precious 3 year old daughter. I can’t even fathom that. And here I am griping and moaning about the mess my daughters have made as they happily played in their room this evening. For those of you from Tyler, I’m certain you have heard about Haven Grace. For those of you who haven’t heard, please take time to watch this. What a blessing this child was to so many and what an amazing life she lived in her short time here. My heart has been heavy for this family for the past few days. Sad for her mommy & daddy and their incredible loss, but also inspired by this sweet little girl, her caring heart & her courage. Wow, what an angel.

So, how dare me & my complaining tonight. I should thank God for this mess we call our home. Lord, forgive me for being so stinkin selfish at times. Stepping on that toy while cooking should remind me…I have healthy children who are simply being kids and enjoying life. Instead of being annoyed, I should hold them close & give them a big fat kiss while thanking God for them. And the fact that He loves me and doesn’t shout out ugly words even though I’m a mess at times.

Addi’s First Protest Letter

We got home from our fabulous New Hampshire trip last night after flying all…day…long…and when we walk in the door my Mom catches us up on what’s been going on with the girls while we’ve been gone. Then she proceeds to hand me this handwritten, very passionate & opinionated note (while totally cracking up).

Apparently while at school yesterday, Addi was presented with the opportunity to participate in karate. And apparently she does NOT want to participate in karate. AT ALL. Little Miss Addison Dixon wrote the following letter to her teacher.

Translated:

If you want to go to karate stand up. If you want to stay in class sit down. Karate is a bad choice. You hit and kick. You have to be safe and responsible and respectful. Big kids can but little should not. Addison does not want to go to karate. I’m going to stay in the class and learn. Addison wants to do a dance recital. Gramma had a long talk with me about karate and we decided not to do it for now.

-Addi

How awesome is that?! I’m sure her teacher got a big kick out of that this morning when Addi waltzed into class and handed it to her. I definitely had to “scrapbook” this to show her when she grows up! Her first official protest letter. I have to say, reading this made me so so proud. After laughing and being impressed with her writing skills, I was proud to see that she is fully prepared to stand up to what she believes in! If she feels karate is a bad choice because you kick and hit, then she will not do it. She would rather stay in class and learn. Hahaha, that’s my girl!

Last night’s simple “date” with Addi.

I tend to be a softy for cheesy daddy/daughter stuff.

I decided a couple years ago that I was going to keep a journal for both Addison and Kamryn that I would one day give them. I have been journaling life updates, messages to them about this and that and just my thoughts about them in general. With the speed of life increasing at the pace it does when you arrive in this phase, I figured it’d allow me to hold onto these precious moments longer. The pause button in a sense. A snapshot of the season of life. Sometimes months go by without me writing anything and I end up playing catchup with sketchy details. I really do need to do better at this.

I wanted to share todays entry; just a simple recap of a little journey to Lowes we had last night. My intent is to encourage other dads of precious girls to date their daughters. You do realize that the daddy is the most influential adult in their life right? You do want her to grow up and fall in love with a man better than you were when you met her mommy, right? We need to take them out, treat them tenderly, show them love, talk sincerely about life and let her know that she is worth our time and efforts. It has been a goal for me to try to do this daddy thing as best as possible. I really do need to do better at this.

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You are a doll. The other day at school you were awarded a “prize” for being responsible. It was a card for a free sundae from Dairy Queen. You were thrilled about this award and I told you that I would take you to get your treat. You seemed very excited for another “daddy and Addi” event. I had some things that I needed to pickup from Lowes and figured that we could do that, then head to get your treat from DQ.

In preparation for the adventure you decided that you wanted to wear a dress. I asked why and you answered with sass, “Daddy! For our date!”. You even had mommy give you two braids. Such a beautiful little girl. We left the house, hopped in Poppy’s truck, I buckled you in your seat and we headed down the road. Your face displayed a slight shyness as I could tell you were excited for our “date“. The way your cute cheeks ball up when you smile makes me giddy. I adore these moments. They really do make me feel more complete as a daddy.

One of may favorite things we do when it’s just me and you is to talk about life. Life for you now is mostly school and friends and so that’s the focus of our conversations. We chatted about the test you had yesterday, how you ”oopsed“ an answer and what you did in class that day. I love it. You are quite the chitter chatterer when you get going. The only time this seems to be a problem is at dinner.

We pulled into the parking lot of Lowes, got out and held hands as we walked across the parking lot. We asked our questions to the helpers there, got what we needed and headed for the check out. On the way to the front we did find a few minutes to do some hand in hand twirls and play chase in the appliance section. You’ll never catch me!

We loaded back up and headed to our next destination. Your coupon was for Dairy Queen. I however had a better place in mind and I selfishly proceeded to Andy’s Frozen Custard. They have a pumpkin pie concrete that daddy loves. I showed the boy at the window the picture of the sundae on your DQ card and asked if they could make something that looked like that one.

We got our ”ice cream“ and sat outside on the gray concrete wall, right where you wanted us to. You were so excited as was I. We then enjoyed our frozen treat and chatted more. I asked about the lunch situation at school, who you sat with, do your friends bring their lunches to school, does the school food look tasty, etc. After you finished you asked if you could take off your shoes and run through the green grass patch there in front of the store. ”Sure baby”, I replied as you were already taking them off. You then ran around with abandon feeling the grass blades on your tiny toes, dancing and skipping with an occasional whirl to make your dress “spin”. We played “boo”behind the enormous sign base and giggled as the sky lost it’s light.

On the way home I couldn’t help but hold your tiny hand again. I love this. I am so proud to have you sitting beside me as we drive here and there. You said that you really wanted to play charades when we got home and were concerned that it was too dark outside. You wanted to play this silly guessing game outside like we’ve been doing some since it’s been cooling off in the evenings. As usual I said, “we’ll see”.

As we pulled in the driveway and you climbed across the seat to my side of the truck and I lifted you down. For me, the tall drop off from out of the truck is just another excuse for a hug really. I love spending time with you and told you this directly with, “I love spending time with you Addi“. I really do. As simple as running a couple errands with you is, I always enjoy the one on one company. Oh and by the way, we did play charades on the back porch after your bath.

I really hope that some of these simple moments like these will resonate in you as you grow older. You are precious and deserve the best. I love you. You are a doll.

Addi’s 1st Day of Kindergarten.

Well, we did it. We got through the first day! Let me clarify. What I really should say is that I got through it…Addi absolutely LOVED it! She’s a champ. She marched right in her classroom, went straight to to her desk and sat down like a pro. No tears, no whining, nothing. I helped her put her backpack up, put on her name tag, hugged and kissed her a billion times, etc. Then when I felt the inevitable tears welling up, I knew it was time for this momma to leave. I kissed her one last time (or maybe twice) and headed out the door looking back to wave just a few times (or maybe 5, but whatever). She was good to go – ready for her first day as a big Kindergartener! Her teacher really is awesome. I am already thanking God for her and her loving heart. And I’m stealing this idea from my cuz-in-law & doing it tomorrow!

When we picked Addi up this afternoon (after sitting in the pickup line for 30 minutes, ugh! note to self: walk next time!), she literally did not stop talking for probably a solid hour. And I loved every minute of it. Here are some things she told me that made me smile…

“When coach talks in PE, we do not talk.”

“No screaming in the bathroom. And only one pump of soap, that’s it.”

“Rain cloud words are like if you say things like ‘I hate something’ or ‘I don’t like your shirt.’ Sunshine words are like when you say ‘I love you’ or ‘Good job on coloring that page!’ So I told Mrs. Jeanes’ that I love her. That’s a sunshine word.”

“Guess what? I minded my teacher all day. Are you proud?”

“Guess what I love about Caldwell? The whole day!”

“I was patient when I sat outside waiting for you to pick me up. But it sure was hot!”

“I didn’t really eat all of my lunch and a lady said to me, ‘you only have certain amount of time.’ So you need to just send two things to eat, not three Momma. Just a sandwich and apple and that’s all.”

“Momma when you left, I was kinda sad. I thought I was going to have tears, but I didn’t. Is that why you wrote ‘I love you’ on my goldfish bag?”

So so proud of my big girl!!!

That’s just what He does.

I woke up this morning with a case of the mommy blues. This is the final day before the big day. Tomorrow is Kindergarten! I know this is not a sad thing, I really do. It’s a great thing in fact. Maybe I’m just being silly. I’m a worry wart by nature, so I have that working against me. Honestly, I was feeling quite sad today. My mommy friends tell me this is normal which makes me feel better and less like a cry baby.

But baby, I got the blues.

This morning during church, our worship leader started the service by praying that we could focus & put aside whatever we brought with us today. I prayed along with him but my mind was consumed. My focus was elsewhere, at least at first. I was standing there during worship feeling very weepy as we sang, “all of my life, in every season – you are still God, I have a reason to sing…” Thoughts of my baby girl starting Kindergarten in the morning flooded my mind. I wondered if we have taught her everything she needs to know for this. I was figuring out what I should send her for lunch and if she would stop talking long enough to have time to actually eat it…or would she starve all day? I was thinking about how hard it was to believe that I was even old enough to have a Kindergartener! (Not to mention the gray hairs that are sneaking up a little too fast for my liking.) I imagined what it will look like as she walks into her classroom in the morning in her cute new outfit & pink princess backpack. Will she cry when I leave? Probably not. Will I be able to stop crying when I leave? I have to, I have a meeting to get to. One chapter of life ends and another one begins. Tears.

Then out of the blue, I started thinking of and missing my Dad terribly. I thought to myself how proud he would be of Addi & how he would have given her a pep talk just like Grandma did yesterday. How he would like her school- the old building with such character, he would think it’s neat. I thought about how this was yet another milestone that he will not be here for. And friends, I felt downright sad. But the song kept on going, “I will rejoice, I will declare, God is my victory and He is here.” Dad would tell me to do the next right thing, I told myself. Chin up, Traci. Keep on keepin’ on. Then, I’m not even kidding, the very next song started….”turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face…” My Dad’s favorite hymn!!! While pastoring, he would have the church sing this song at the end of the service before leaving as a reminder of where our focus should be. This song was even sung at his funeral. More tears.

In that moment, it felt like the song selections were just for me. Maybe Dad put in a special request for me? :) I felt God’s presence so real – He was listening to the cries of my heart. He doesn’t think I’m being silly. He loves me. He knows how much I adore my Addi and how much I daily miss my Dad. When I’m sad or worried, He provides comfort. He held me in His arms this morning and let me cry. He reminded me to focus by turning my eyes toward him and “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory & grace.”

He saw my heart and gave me that song, I just know it. That’s just what He does.

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!

Our house is a mess.

Our house is constantly a mess. I clean and pick up daily, but it never fails…

There is always glitter on the kitchen floor. Always a toy to be stepped on in the hallway. Always water on the bathroom floor. Always feathers from a dress up boa on the living room rug. Always dirty sippy cups throughout. Always popsicle stained shirts. Always globs of toothpaste in the sink. Always books on the floor. Always crumbs on the couch. Always marker all over the kitchen table. Always empty bubbles on the back porch. Always mini flip flops by the back door. Always hair bows and clippies by the sink. Always something in the potty. Always barbies in the bath tub. Always dresses on the closet floor. Always coloring pages scattered in my office. Always dirty mouths (or butts) to wipe.

But you know what I’ve determined? WHO CARES! These little culprits are worth every time I bend over to pick up a toy or get another paper towel to wipe off something. They are worth every mess, spill, and stain. Because of these two girls our hearts and lives are filled to the brim with love unimaginable, incredible joy, and a ton of laughter…all of which are incomparable to these little inconveniences. In fact, I thank God for a messy house! It’s just a constant reminder of these beautiful blessings He has given to us.

What makes you beautiful?

Having two girls is so much fun. Our house is filled with pink. Dresses, flowers, tiaras, dress-up stuff, glitter, play makeup, plastic jewelry, the works. No hiding the fact that we are raising two princesses, that’s for sure! But lately, something about all of this has kind of been bothering me & Ryan. This may be completely normal, but it sort of makes us sad. We are already seeing signs of how they worry about the way they look, compare themselves to others and even cry or throw fits if their hair is messed up or they don’t like the dress they have on. Not all the time does this happen, but quite frequently. I mean really, you are only 3 (or 4) years old! It’s really surprising to us how much they genuinely care about their looks at this young of an age…that should be the least of their worries! “Momma is my hair messy?” or “I want a dress like _____has on.” or “I like my bangs this way instead.” We’ve had to remind them, fairly often lately, that beauty is not about the way you look. I’ll say, “What makes you beautiful?” to which they respond in unison, “Your heart!” (They are learning!) We tell them all the time how beautiful they are when they smile – it doesn’t matter what clothes they have on or what their hair looks like, God made them perfectly and loves them just the way they are. If you have girls, I’d love to hear how you deal with this issue! I love my princesses, but always want them to know they are beautiful for reasons way beyond their dresses and hair.

My Flower Garden.

I got a precious Mother’s Day gift this year. A beautiful gift that I will enjoy for months to come. Sunday morning while eating breakfast, the girls walked up and handed me this sweet homemade card (thanks to their creative graphic designer Daddy).

I’ll let the pictures tell the story. What a perfect gift! Loved it. Every moment of it! My heart is full. I love being a mom and I adore my family!

Mother’s Day: Surprises & Survey

All week long, Addi has been talking (shocker) about how excited she is to finish the “mother’s day surprise” for me at her school on Thursday. She has been so excited to work on this little project and give it to me.

“Mommy, are you going to be sooooo excited?”

“Mommy, are you going to cry tears of joy?”

“Mommy, you will really really really like what I will give you to put on the fridge so you can look at it every day!”

Adorable. Well, today when I picked her up from school, she was ecstatic. There she stood by the door holding a little white, sticker-covered bag and a huge smile on her sweet face. “Mommy, Mommy!!! Here’s your gift!” We loaded up backpacks, went & got Kam from her room (who had a gift for me too, but wasn’t in the best of moods thanks to a lip-busting accident on the playground) and headed to the minivan. As soon as we were all piled in, Addi opened my gift for me. (Isn’t that usually the way it works? I never get to open gifts for myself anymore!) And there it was…my new pink magnetic frame, to hang on the fridge & look at every day, with the most adorable 4 year old holding a sign with words that mean the world to me. Melt my heart. Addi was right, I did cry tears of joy! What made this gift so special was how much it meant to Addi to make it and give it to me …priceless.

Kam made a precious gift too! I’m sure her teacher helped just a little. It’s a clip board that she colored, has a sweet little poem on it, her hand cutout and a cute pic of her face inside the flower. So creative! Kam told me I could use it to make “lists” – perfect. So thankful for my beautiful sweethearts.

Also, along with Addi’s gift was a folded piece of pink paper that totally made my day. I opened it up and it said in big letters at the top: A Mother’s Day Survey Created for You by Your Child. This seriously cracked me up, so I had to type it out for you and share. Her teacher interviewed her and here are Addi’s responses…

What is your mom’s real name? Traci

What do you call her? Mommy

What does your dad call her? Baby

What does your mom like to do? She likes to kiss me.

What is her favorite color? Pink

What is her favorite food? Salad

What is her favorite drink? Tea

What is her favorite restaurant? Chuy’s

How tall is your mom? 6 inches

How much does she weigh? 6 lbs.

What is your mom’s favorite TV show? Alice in Wonderland

What does your mom do while you are at school? She works at Brown’s Landing.

If I gave your mom $100, what would she buy? A curtain

If you could spend a whole day with your mom, what would you do? We would swim.

If your mom was sick, what would you do to make her feel better? I would take care of her.

Ha! She was right on on most of them. Clearly, Alice in Wonderland is NOT my favorite TV show and if given $100, I would probably not buy a curtain – but how stinkin cute?!

I love my kids. I am blessed beyond words to be their mommy.

Daddy/Daughter Campout.

Last Friday night I set out on my first camping adventure with my baby girls. My good buddy Mike was able to secure some land for our day point five campout about 20 minutes North East of Tyler. This is a great spot due to the proximity and the available camping amenities. About a month ago Mike was mentioning an upcoming father son campout to which I butted in and proposed the question “Daddy/Daughter”? “Of course!” was his reply. Sweet action! The Dixon’s were in.

I LOVE camping and any excuse to do more of it is perfectly fine with me. Since the birth of our children I have always desired to establish an at minimum annual camping trip with them. Being only 3 and 4 now, I was a little concerned that my hands would be too full taking both Addison and Kamryn. I was told that if I took one girl, I had to take both. Understandingly I agreed that was going have to be the plan. Challenges are good, right?

As the days approached I started putting out feeler statements like, “Who wants to go camping with daddy in a tent”?! to which Addi with her typical inhaling “Huuuuuhh!” continued her response with “I DO!” Kamryn however was skeptical as expected. She LOVES her mommy and the thought of mommy not being there took some convincing. That’s when the mention of Twizzlers, shelled peanuts, fruit snacks, and cuddling were thrown into the bargain. The chip that sealed the deal though was the statement about riding there in daddy’s truck. They adore riding side by side with me in Kip’s single cab pick-up.

With everything I could think of taking to occupy the “down time” that camping desperately beckons, I made sure to pack paper and crayons, comfort blankies, kites and snacks out the waa-zoo. Some how in my plea with Traci not to pack too much girly stuff, Addi and Kam’s clothes still happened to get packed into princess backpacks alongside their pillow-pets. Lovely! I’m in for it.

We excessively packed everything a week long camping trip would require, loaded it into the truck and set off towards our destination for the night. On the way I discussed what to expect when camping. I told them that camping was all about “Chill’n in God’s creation.” Actually I made them repeat that by posing the followup question, “Girls, what’s camping all about?”. “Chill’n in God’s creation.” was the nearly in sync reply from the two tiny angles to my right. “That’s right!” I closed the statement specifically for the oldest of the two angels who has some difficulty with “chill’n” as you could put it for this intense and overly questioning, 4 year old teenager.

In excitement we were some of the first to arrive. We traveled down the green grass field road on the property to the small fishing pond over the hill. This is where the festivities would be held. Beautiful. We met another father and his son and chatted about where we should setup our tent for the night. We found a semi-flat area and started working. The girls insisted on helping and I insisted to not prohibit their “helping”. We tacked the tent to the ground with its stakes, slid the fiberglass poles into the proper sleeves and then lifted the poles into place as the random formless tarps became a tent. Squeals and the joyous comment “Huuuuh, IT”S SOOOO BEAUTIFUL!” was exclaimed. Awesomeness.

We proceed to fill our house for the night with our gear. We built a pallet out of some old comforters and sleeping bags, rolled out their adult sized mummy sleeping bags and then topped them with their favorite blankets and pillow-pets. I laid out my mat and bag right next to theirs and smiled in wonder as to what night-time would  bring.

Burgers and hotdogs were on the fire. All the participating dads and their sons had arrived and setup camp. Dinner was served, we ate the smoked saturated goodness and then decided to take a walk around the pond while there was still light. When we got to the other side we walked into a huge field of weeds/wildflowers. Addi and Kam frolicked about in the field. They were seriously yelling, “It’s SO BEAUTIFUL!” and “Oh WOW!” as they skipped through the weeds. Reminding me that the simple positive side of things is what is most important. Usually on strolls through our neighborhood we are posed the question, “Can I pick one of those?” to which we always reply, “Those aren’t our flowers. We can’t pick other people’s flowers.” This evening however, these were THEIR flowers. Ripened for the harvest and bloomed for their happiness. They were in what their tiny minds conceive as Heaven. I watched with gladness and a heart full of joy, a taste of what I perceive as Heaven.

We headed back to our campsite, set our camping chairs around the refueled campfire and awaited s’more time. As the other groups were still out exploring we decided to take another shorter walk now that it was getting dark. With their new special camping flashlights in hand, my little chicks followed me around the pond again. This time we couldn’t help but notice the night time beauty. The sky was clear as the 90 percent full moon began to take over the duty of illumination. “It’s sparkly and beautiful!” Addi stated in seeing the moons reflection on the slightly ripped waters of the pond. In returning with the other families, we made the customary campout dessert then headed off to bed. Before that though we had to “go potty” and brush teeth.

Fortunately for us there was a “cabin” on this property available for just that. Unfortunately I have 2 girls under my wing for this campout and every time they need to “go potty” we had to load up in the truck and drive up the hill to this house. I’m sure all in all we made about 6 trips there in the short span of time we were there. This house was the typical late 70’s house that has been stuffed with old hand-me down beds, tvs, that “old piano that we can’t figure out what to do with” and cookware specific for the weekend getaways and guest lodging that takes place here. The girls found this house a bit creepy at night, so did I. Usually we went straight in, did what we were there for, then scurried back to the truck. Adorning one of the wood planked walls was an old western, sepia colored saloon-like photo with some old cowboys holding rifles. The question was asked if those were the people who lived in the house. Another question was if this house was where the 3 little pigs lived. I couldn’t help but answer yes to that one.

We drove back to our tent, changed into out p.j.’s and got the girls snuggled into their sleeping bags which easily swallowed up their tiny, delicate bodies. All you could see was their sweet little round faces poking out from the top. Super cute. With a couple tight squeezes and more kisses than usual, we closed the day as in ritual with prayer and the “Barney song”. I laid down, slid into my bag and then the questions really started. They usually request to “iChat for a few minutes” at home and I knew with this new experience it would take a while for them to feel as ease and fall asleep. A few minutes of chatting and we were all fast asleep in our “beautiful” tent.

The next morning I woke to smiling girls, the sunrise, 40 degree temperatures and a nauseating headache. We took our customary morning trip to the potty and began to prepare breakfast for the group. Kam and Addi both held their share of fishing poles and even got a bit muddy. After breakfast we drove around to discover more of the vast property and the other ponds. I even talked chicken little (Addi) into crossing over a 2 by 12 board “bridge”. Next we broke out the Barbie kites and played more in the flower filled field. Beautiful day but as the minutes increased, so did the intensity of my headache. We quickly broke down our tent, threw our equipment and unrolled sleeping bags into the bed of the truck, said some quick good byes and headed home to rest.

Asking the girls what their favorite part of their first camping trip was Addi said “sleeping” and “throwing rocks into the lake”. Kamryn answered, “Going potty in the 3 little pigs house.” All in all this was a great first camping experience. I was honestly quite skeptical going into the weekend with Kamryn’s non-committal answer and the thought of these princesses enjoying the art of “chill’n in God’s creation.” They LOVED it and so did I. I am so excited to be able to continue what we’ve only just begun with this new adventure. I am a very proud daddy of the two cutest little campers around.

Let me be loud & clear.

Mile Markers The 26.2 Most Important Reasons Why Women Run – by Kristen Armstrong. I am about halfway through reading this book and am absolutely loving it. It motivates me so much! I have always enjoyed reading Kristen’s blog on Runner’s World ever since my Dad told me about it. He loved reading it too and often times sent me links of her posts. Her writing is so inspirational to me. She is not only a runner, but also a mom and someone who likes to live life to the fullest. I love hearing her stories about parenting, early morning runs with friends, races she’s done, and just life in general. It’s a great book thus far and I feel certain I will finish it within the next week or two.

As I sat outside on the patio today soaking up the sun, I read chapter 12 called “Confidence”. Good stuff about what she feels makes for a confident woman and how it starts on the inside. I came across this line and it stuck with me. She was talking specifically about how our influence and own self-confidence affects our children. I read it, reread it, and then knew I had to come in and post this blog.

“If our lips are moving but our actions don’t match, we become a badly dubbed foreign film, without the benefit of subtitles.”

How true is that?! And very biblical. If we say one thing and do another, it just doesn’t make any sense. To our kids or to anyone else for that matter. How confusing is it to a child for you to say “do this” or “do that” and then you don’t follow up your talk with your walk and do those very things? Very confusing. A bunch of jibber jabber. A waste of time.

This goes along well with what we’ve been talking about in or community group lately – we have to be who we want our kids to be. We have to be genuine and real by letting them see who we are, which is honestly scary & motivating at the same time. I can’t tell Addi to use kind words and be patient to Kam if I don’t exhibit patience and kindness to her when they are pushing all of my buttons. I can’t tell people I am a runner, if I don’t actually get out and make time to run. I can’t say I love Jesus, but then snuff the poor and needy right here in our community. I can’t say you’re my friend and then not be there for you to cry on my shoulder while you are struggling. It just doesn’t (shouldn’t) work that way. It’s not just lip service.

I don’t want my life to be badly dubbed without subtitles. I want it to be loud and clear. I want people, especially my kids, to know who I am, who I love, what I stand for, what I do, and what’s most important to me. I want them to see momma get sweaty and push myself to finish a run. I want them to see me make mistakes and apologize for them. I want them to see me show love to a stranger. I want them to see me make dating Ryan a priority. I want them to see me worship the Lord with all that I am. I want them to see me strive to be better in all things. I want to be confident in who I am, inside and out, and be content in my own skin- even through all my imperfections– so they will learn to be confident women themselves one day. That, my friends, will make for a beautiful film!

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!