Happy Birthday!

And just like that, somehow it has been a year. Today we celebrated our sweet Caitlin and this first year of her precious life. She is an absolute joy!

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We are incredibly thankful for Caitlin and feel extremely blessed that we have the privilege of raising her and seeing her grow and learn.

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This week we’ve held her a little tighter, and soaked up her sweet baby snuggles, while remembering as many details as we can about her first days, our time spent waiting to bring her home, and the rest of the year that followed. We are so happy to be her momma and daddy and are excited for the rest of her life!


Two of our favorite books to read at night say perfectly what we feel about our sweet Caitlin, and the words rang more true than ever and were especially fitting today. We hope she always knows how special she is and never doubts the depths of our love.

“For never before in story or rhyme
(not even once upon a time)
has the world ever know a you, my friend,
and it never will, not ever again…

Heaven blew every trumpet
and played every horn
on the wonderful, marvelous
[morning] you were born.”

“The world became a more beautiful place,
the moment we saw your beautiful face.”

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On The Night You Were Born” by Nancy Tillman

Welcome Little One” by Sandra Magsamen

Reflections

2018 was definitely a year to remember for our little family. Throughout this holiday season, I’ve been extra reflective about my life, the past year, the seasons that we’ve been through, ups and downs, joys and sorrows. It’s interesting to see the changes that come with each passing year; how we grow, how we are used, how we become who we are meant to be.

Two years ago, we had just announced publicly that we were in pursuit of adoption. We had already spent a fair amount of time on the path, but sharing the news with others provided a new level of hope that we didn’t know existed, and opened so many more doors. That holiday season, we were in awe of the encouragement and excitement from others and felt extremely loved and supported. We had entered into a new territory where we were allowing ourselves to be very vulnerable to other people. It put us on a path, not just to grow our family, but also to become a support for others going through difficult times.

Late last year, in the midst of a difficult season for our entire family, we found out that we were matched with an expectant mom. She and the baby’s biological father had chosen us to parent the baby growing inside of her. It was this time last year, that we were cautiously sharing our joyful news with our family and close friends. We spoke for the first time with the woman we hoped would still want us to be her baby’s parents once the baby was born. We put up our Christmas tree and shared visions of a baby toddling around during the next year’s holidays. During this season, we lived with great expectation and excitement, but also an enormous amount of fear over the things to come and decisions still to be made and finalized.

No doubt, 2018 brought about our biggest joy in Caitlin. We are so thankful for her sweet life! The year was filled with many celebrations and smiles, and plenty of “firsts.” We became Momma and Daddy, lived in Florida for five weeks, figured out how to care for a baby 24/7 (in a hotel room!), spent time with family, went on our first family-of-three vacation, and a whole host of other exciting things that come with being first time parents. Of course, there were plenty of difficult times as well – navigating the wait and then starting a relationship with Caitlin’s birth parents, more paperwork and finalization formalities, first hospitalization, balancing our new family with work, church, marriage, etc. 2018 closed a chapter in our lives that lingered longer than anticipated, and started a new chapter we are excited to see unfold. The year was good to us, and we are hopeful for what is still to come.

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Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

If we could see in the future to know how our life will work out, wouldn’t it make it easier? Maybe. Sure. But the other side is much more rewarding knowing what it took to get there, and the lessons learned along the way. If we had all the answers, we would never know what it means to live in faith, to anticipate a good thing, to be hopeful. We don’t have a promise of a happy ending on this earth, but I’m filled with joy and humility over God’s provision for my family, and the loving support of family and friends. I’m looking forward to 2019, for the memories we’ll make with Caitlin, the “firsts” still to come, and for the things not anticipated, because that’s what shapes us into who we are meant to be.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

Happy new year!

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We’re still here . . .

So, if you haven’t noticed, it’s been a while since we made any post. We’ve wanted to write, but well . . . life. Lol. A baby changes things for sure. We’ve been busy enjoying Caitlin, learning to be parents, and figuring out how to balance everything as we find our new normal. There have definitely been challenges; we won’t try to paint a picture claiming that everything is perfect. We’re new parents! But we also wouldn’t trade this for the world.

For some reason, we’ve also been a little unsure as to where to go from here with this blog. And then as time kept passing, we felt like we needed to have the perfect thing to say (and then this post literally sat written and unpublished for over a month . . .). Our intention was never for our little blog to be simply a journal about our life (though that’s certainly part of it!), but rather, we had hoped to be a resource and use the platform as a way to help educate ourselves and others about infertility and adoption. Somewhere between changing diapers, post-placement home studies, work, and sleep (what’s that?), we’ve gone much longer between postings than intended.

We’ve had a lot of thoughts swirling around in our heads these past months as new parents, so soon we’ll get that put together into shareable content. We’re working on getting back into that groove, but for now, we figured what better way to ease back into the blogging world, than to give an update on our precious Little Bit?

Caitlin is now almost 7 months old (how did that happen?). Her personality is really starting to show, she is happy and content, loves to listen to us sing, sits by herself, and is ready to move! She constantly smiles, thinks looking at herself in the mirror is hilarious, started eating (and face painting) some veggies, and has definitely found her voice.

Here are a few pictures.

 

We are loving this new life. It’s hectic and hard, but this smiley, cuddly little one has made this life so much more beautiful.

 

Looking at our pictures and thinking back to when our world changed, there is so much that we want to share about our experience. Stay tuned – we will have more soon!

Much love,

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From the “Mother Side”

Mother’s day is different this year. It’s the first time I’m on the “mother side,” and that’s exciting. I’m so happy to be Caitlin’s mama! What a sweet privilege it is. She is just the best little blessing Colin and I could have ever imagined; she is all we ever hoped and prayed for. She has made our hearts burst with love and we are so proud of her.

It’s still hard to wrap my head around the fact that I’m a mom. I’ve desired for so long to be in this place, that while it feels so natural, it’s also so very foreign. Thankfully, I’ve got some wonderful examples in my life through my own mom, mother-in-law, grandmothers, and special friends. While I’ve only been a mom for a short amount of time, I understand the weight of this day and the emotions it brings. I would like to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to some very special people:

Happy Mother’s Day to Caitlin’s birth mother. I would not be Caitlin’s mama, if it weren’t for the selfless love of her first mama. This precious woman loves our sweet baby so much, that she sacrificed her own role as her mother, and trusted me to take on that role instead. Wow. What gift. What a beautiful responsibility. It’s not lost on me that I became a mom, while another woman felt the pain of losing that title. This Mother’s Day, I’m excited to be on the “mother side,” but I’m also thinking of the brave heart of Caitlin’s birth mother.

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This is (part of) one of my favorite pictures from the hospital. It’s Caitlin, her birth mother, and me, just hours after Caitlin was born and the first time I saw and held her.

Happy Mother’s Day to my Momma! She is the best (I know everyone says that, but mine really is). She is the example I need, on how to be a good mother. She is selfless and loving. She puts everyone above herself, always making sure that the needs of everyone else around her are met. She loves my dad and her children and her grandchildren – oh she loves her grandchildren something fierce. I love my mom.

Happy Mother’s Day to the other women in my life who mentored me and loved on me, especially during my wait to become a mom. To my sisters, mother-in-law, family, and friends, I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for your guidance, love, and listening ear. Even if you aren’t a mom, you influence others, and that’s a huge role in itself.

And to those who have suffered a loss of a child or mother, to those who are have placed a child for adoption, to those who are in the depths of the wait to fill your mama arms, I see you. I know that this day can be one of mixed emotions, even painful. For the last several years, this day was one of my least favorite of the year. So I understand that while others are celebrating, others are quietly hurting. Happy Mother’s Day to you, too. You are loved.

I’m thankful to be on the “mother side” of Mother’s Day. It’s a joy to be Caitlin’s mom and I’m excited to pour into her, just like so many women have and continue to do in my own life. Happy Mother’s Day to you all!

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Worth the Wait

Four years ago exactly, we sat in a doctor’s office and were told that I would likely never be able to get pregnant. It was news that hit me like a ton of bricks and shook our lives and our marriage to the core. It took a long time for our hearts to heal in a way that would allow us to move forward, to figure out the path God wanted our family to take.

But today, as I write this, a tiny baby is sleeping sweetly next to me. A baby that came into our lives differently than most. A baby with loving birth parents who chose us to raise their daughter.

The doctor told us that day that I would never have a baby grow under my heart, but what we didn’t understand at that time, was that it didn’t matter what any doctor said, we could still have a baby grow IN our hearts.

We are proud to introduce miss Caitlin Rose! She was born on Friday, March 9, weighed 5 lbs. 14.9 oz., and was 18.5 inches long. We are falling more in love with her every day! We are so thankful to be her parents and are beyond grateful to and full of love for her first mama and dad who made us a family.

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Caitlin was born in another state, and because of that, there is some additional approval that has to take place before we can return home to Louisiana. Once finally back home and settled, we will share more of our story and weeks-long adventure, but for now, we are embracing these precious moments as a family of three.

The wait was long and not easy, but this gift was worth the wait!
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Even If

Lately, I’ve been asked multiple times about my favorite verse or passage from the Bible. My immediate response typically stuns the questioner – it is the entire book of Habakkuk. After assuring them that Habakkuk is indeed in the Bible, and not a Star Wars or Lord of the Rings character, I go on to explain that the book of Habakkuk is really an open letter to all who are suffering; to all who question God when life doesn’t seem fair.

By now you are familiar enough with our story to know Kendal and I had the same frustrations – “God, why can’t we get pregnant? Isn’t having a family a good thing?! How can those who seemingly don’t love, care, or want a child be blessed that way and we can’t? Why is the process taking so long?!” Maybe your circumstances haven’t revolved around infertility and adoption. Perhaps your struggle is with your career, finances, or health. If we are honest with ourselves, everyone, at some point in their lives, has felt as though life wasn’t fair and God wasn’t listening.

And that is where the book of Habakkuk comes in. As the story begins, this prophet observes his world and sees, due to the nation’s corrupt leaders, injustice, depravity, and violence. Habakkuk complains to God, “How long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?” In essence, Habakkuk is criticizing God, wondering why all of these unfair and evil things happen to good people – to God’s own people nonetheless! Sounds familiar, right?

God responds to Habakkuk’s complaints, telling him that He is aware of the injustice and destruction, and that He does, in fact, plan on doing something about it, but it isn’t quite what Habakkuk has in mind. God tells the prophet that He is raising up an enemy nation to come and invade the land. This shocks Habakkuk, as this situation is far worse than corrupt leaders and moral decline. The prophet goes so far as to accuse God of being inconsistent and unfair in raising up this enemy nation – “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look to wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?”  Habakkuk was looking for some relief, but God throws Habakkuk a curve ball he never expected. Still sounding familiar?

Habakkuk marvels at God’s plan and eventually consents that he has been duly silenced: “I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us.”  Recognizing and trusting in God’s sovereignty, Habakkuk then offers one of the most beautiful statements of faithful submission anywhere in Scripture:

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The book’s final line reads, “To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.” Amazing! Habakkuk has received a glimpse of the glory of God, and despite the certain suffering that looms on the horizon and not fully understanding why God is doing the things He is, Habakkuk sings praises, knowing God will sustain him. What a progression – from protest to praise – “…yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength!” While we don’t know what Habakkuk’s song sounded like, and though our “stringed instruments” probably sound different today, I think a modern interpretation is “Even If” by MercyMe, which you can listen to here.

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We don’t know the end of Habakkuk’s story. The book doesn’t tell us about the invading army or what happens to the nation. Because that isn’t the point. The point of Habakkuk’s story isn’t on what happens to him, but rather, how he responds to God. Habakkuk teaches us that we have a choice; that the righteous shall live by his faith.”

And so for me, while I wish I knew God’s timing regarding our adoption journey, I don’t. While I wish I knew why He has chosen us to go down this path and not through pregnancy, I don’t. While I wish I could take this burden away from our family, I can’t.  Kendal and I have experienced highs and lows over the past few years, and even more specifically, the past couple of months. Though we recently received news that could prove to be an answer to our prayers, we also realize how quickly we could return to a period of waiting. So rather than complain or question God, I choose to follow the approach laid down by Habakkuk. While we earnestly long for a family and desperately want to have children to raise, even if my life doesn’t turn out as I want, even if our entire adoption journey fails, even if I never receive answers to my questions, “…yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

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The Importance of True Friendship

Last week, while on my way to work, I received a text from a good friend – Matt – which said “Praying for y’all today. Peace and patience and favor.” As I considered Matt’s message, I was reminded of how many people just over the last two or three weeks who have mentioned they are praying for us.  People from different cities and walks of life have reached out to us to let us know we are still in their thoughts and prayers. Thinking of those comments in light of Matt’s message, the importance of true friendship was impressed upon me.

But in a day of rampant social media usage, it is easy to forget the true meaning oftrue-friendship friendship. We mistake social media as a safety blanket to hide under – a blanket where we display how many friends we have, our best-looking selfies, our trip to the gym, or the number people who liked a photo of our dinner. Empowered to say whatever we want with little repercussions, social media, text messaging, and email makes our “friends” digital and our egos bigger.

Calvin, you are right, true friends are hard to come by.  Honest people in real life situations don’t seem to hold their value anymore.  Our world makes it easy to slip away into seclusion. We value digital connection over personal investment.  This is not normal; this is not what we were created for.

wallpaper_lFriendship is more than 140 characters, snarky memes, or “Happy Birthday!” Facebook posts. Friendship is more than a forced smile and a 3-minute conversation in a hallway. Rather, true friendship is when people open themselves up to each other, messy homes and all.  It is when people genuinely care for each other, seeking their friends’ good over their own.  True friendship is about investing in each other’s lives, even if there are parts with which you disagree. Most importantly, friendship is when people who seek God’s glory can love each other, despite their sins and flaws and shortcomings. Charles Spurgeon has this to say about friendship, “Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend.” 

Scripture speaks highly on friendship and the need to help each other:

“This is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” – Romans 1:12 

“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” – Proverbs 27:9 

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25 

“Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17 

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:24 

Christian friendship is beautiful and vital. It is more than a casual “hello,” but is a brotherhood, a sisterhood, a family, and a body . . . a body of Christ working together glorifying Him. A Christ-centered friendship always loves, forgives, corrects, rebukes, encourages, prays for, and hopes for each other to be more like Christ. A true friend never allows us to wallow in our sin, but wants to see us redeemed and sanctified. A true friend loves and supports and encourages despite the other’s mistakes and failures. Friendship is like love, it is tough and it is war. It is iron sharpening iron. It is holding each other accountable. True friendship isn’t easily discarded when tough situations arise.

Friendship is when people who seek God’s glory can love each other, despite their sins and flaws and shortcomings.

Which brings me back to Matt. Thinking back over our adoption journey, and especially in the last few months, I am constantly reminded of such friends in my life.  Friends who encourage us, who I know love us, and who, in spite of our shortcomings, invest themselves in us. They genuinely ask how we are doing and actually listen to our response. I am very thankful and blessed to have them in my life, and I hope that others can see this type of friendship in me.

Life is hard and we can’t live it alone. But true Christian friendship is more than a casual connection; it is journeying together in life and spurring each other on to be more like Christ and to give Him more glory.

That is infinitely more exciting than being secluded. 

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