Wednesday, September 28, 2011


" . . . be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  Romans 12:2

It's happening.  I'm being transformed.  By God.  Through the Word.  And I love it.

Chad has been preaching through the Pentateuch (we're currently in Numbers) and God is teaching me so much through the parts of His Word that I in the past have (gasp) skipped right over.  I've been studying Romans in my personal time with Jesus because I'm teaching Romans in Sunday School . . . knocking my socks off!  I hate to admit it, but I've never studied Romans before.  Always kinda intimidated me.  But God has been speaking so clearly through His Word to confront and transform me and I actually see it, feel it happening.

There is way too much floating around my head to write it all down.  Besides, half of it I haven't really processed yet!  But I wanted to share just a few tidbits of what God is teaching me and challenging me in these days.

1.  Pursuing Holiness . . . If you're in my Sunday School class, you're getting a sneak peak at this weeks lesson!  Romans 6 talks about us being freed from our slavery to sin.  Awesome news!  But many of us stop here.  We're free!  Yippee!  The reality is that we aren't really free, we just have a new Master.  We're freed from sin to become slaves to Christ, slaves to righteousness.  So what does this mean?  We are now free to pursue holiness, godliness.  Some of you are probably like, "Yeah, Cole.  That is so simple."  I thought so too until I really started praying about what it looks like for me to pursue holiness in ALL I do.

Example . . . there is a major famine going on in East Africa right now.  Unspeakable numbers of people are dying.  We've been praying for Easton's birth family, knowing that they are without a doubt being affected by this tragedy.  Chad and I began talking about what we could do to help, how we could free up money to send.  Through prayer, God showed me that an area where we could save money is in our food budget.  You see, I had not been pursuing holiness when it came to planning our meals and grocery shopping.  Of course I try to save money, but I hadn't been making it a matter of holiness, an area to bring glory to God.  If I look at meal planning in this way, with a strong desire for God to be glorified in how I do this simple, sometimes mundane part of a mom's life, then not only am I pursuing holiness, but God provides money for us to send to others in need.  Win/Win!

Seems kind of silly and I'm sure I got a few eye rolls with that example, but I'm being challenged that God desires this same kind of thought process in ALL areas of my life.

2.  Disciple-Making . . . This is what it is all about.  Again, I've been told this, I've been taught this, I know it is right, but now God Himself is teaching me and I'm owning it like never before.  I hear stories of crazy things happening in churches . . . blatant sin not getting confronted, statistics of people within the church looking almost no different that people outside of the church, followers of Christ not at all reflecting Him accurately . . . and I wonder how this is the reality of the American church.  I think the answer is that our churches are full of people who have never been discipled.  They don't have a strong foundation built upon God's Word to base their entire lives upon.  Just like the rest of the world, they end up making decisions based upon what sounds or feels good.

I'm discipling a sweet sweet lady that is completely unchurched.  We spent an hour last night just talking and studying about the glory of God . . . that He is the Center of the Universe so then by necessity all things revolve around Him and were created for His glory.  This is huge.  How do you more forward in understanding the Gospel if you don't grasp this?  You don't!

Afterward, I was filled with excitement at the hope of the foundation that will be laid in her life through this discipleship process.  But at the same time, I was struck by the vast number of people "we" have just shared the Gospel with and invited to church and then we leave it at that.  The preaching of God's Word in a corporate worship service is an incredible blessing and God definitely challenges and grows us through it, but I can't imagine how the same foundation could be built by listening to sermons as the foundation that is built through personal discipleship.  The sermons proclaim these essential truths, but it would be so hard for an unchurched person or new believer to themselves sort out the truths taught to form a firm foundation for their faith.

I pray that I and we would have a renewed passion for making disciples of all nations.  It is hard.  It takes time.  It takes personal sacrifice.  But making disciples is what this life lived for Christ is all about.

3.  Spiritual Leadership . . . Y'all know I love my husband.  No secret there.  He is amazing and the perfect man for me!  But in the past couple of months I have had a renewed love and appreciation for him and for how God designed marriage to be.

The man is the spiritual leader in the home.  He can lead well or horribly, but he is still the leader.  God's Word says that the wife's role is to submit to her husband.  This makes most women shudder and cut it completely out of the vows.  But in the past month I have experienced this design and it is so incredibly beautiful!

Chad has led by example in prioritizing spending time with Jesus each day and making disciples of all nations.  His example alone is enough to lead me to do the same.  But he has taken extra steps to make sure I am able to make these things a reality in my life.  Chad has set an example of walking in humility, seeking forgiveness and offering forgiveness.  But he has also lovingly prayed and encouraged me to seek God about these areas in my life.  I see and experience Chad making decisions rooted in wisdom after seeking the Father.  But he also offers wise counsel to me as I work through decisions.

There have been moments when Chad has challenged me or spoken words of wisdom to me out of love.  In the past I might have gotten defensive or argued from my point of view.  But because of how Chad is living his own life and how he is leading our family spiritually, I have been able to receive his direction and wisdom as intended . . . as from the Lord out of love.  I gladly submit to his leadership because of the leader he is and the Leader he follows.  

One other side not about spiritual leadership for wives . . . show your appreciation for the way your husband is leading your family.  Over the last month, I have intentionally thanked Chad for how he is leading us in wisdom and to pursue holiness.  And I have made sure he knows how much I respect and appreciate him.  And as a result I have seen him embrace the role and responsibility even more and with a renewed passion.  It's like my submission and respect have given him wings to fly (cue "You are the wind beneath my wings")!

Lots of random thoughts that are somehow all intertwined in my mind and heart.  What a blessing to serve a God that is never content to leave us where we are, but always desires to lead us to new places!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Too full?

I cook almost every night.  I genuinely enjoy cooking for my family.  I like the excitement/nervousness of trying something new and the pleasure of seeing big smiles when I serve one of our favorites.  But let me tell you one thing I most certainly DO NOT like . . . when I'm "slaving over the stove" with just minutes left until the food is ready only to turn around and see Chad munching on a poptart or some other space-filler.  Frustrates me to no end!  Chad's response is usually to remind me that he has never not eaten my amazing food, even if he had a little snack beforehand.  To his credit, he is right.  Somehow Chad (and most men) have the ability to eat like bottomless pits.  Still, it irritates me.  For some reason I feel like the hunger should get the best food first . . . my food, not some random snack from the pantry.  My fear is that Chad will come to the table full and not be able to completely enjoy what I worked hard and delighted to put before him. 

Today as I was cleaning the floors, God brought this scenario to my mind. (Ava was painting so I was able to have deep thoughts and conversation with God as I mopped . . . thank you Jesus that "quiet times" don't have to be in solitude or quiet!)   The question He put before me was this . . .

Are you coming to My table already full?

I've continued to wrestle with this throughout the day.  Have I oriented things in my life, in my day so that I am too full for what my Lord desires to put before me?  Am I spending time "snacking" on things with no value, only to end up with a dull appetite when I come before the God of the universe who wants to feed me with more of Him?

I see this playing out in my life in a few different ways . . .

1.  Am I coming to God hungry for Him, to be fed from His Word, to be filled and surrendered to the Spirit?  Basically, am I desiring and seeking an intimate relationship with Him?  I've always struggled with consistent times with God.  I'm talking about more than just a quick prayer and reading a verse to make me feel like I can check that box off my to do list.  Deep times of prayer and true study in the Word. 

2.  Is my life full of the things God has called me to? Am I spending a majority of my day on things that offer no spiritual value or help me accomplish the mission I've been given?  Have I been doing things because they are good instead of asking God what is best?

I've been teaching a women's Sunday school class for the past two years.  In that time, we've studied Philippians, Colossians,  1 & 2 Corinthians, Ephesians and now we're in Romans.  Needless to say, I've been getting to know Paul much better than ever before!  The thing that strikes me about Paul is that his mission and purpose in life is clear . . . the advancement of the Gospel.  It was the foundation of his ministry, the fuel that kept him going, and the ultimate desire of his heart.  Phil. 1:21 sums it up well . . . "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."  We look at Paul's life and applaud his passion and purpose, while just as quickly dismissing the notion that our life should look anything like his.  The truth is, most of our lives probably won't look like Paul's . . . mission trips for months, even years at a time, traveling the world, enduring unspeakable hardships, being martyred for our faith.  But we forget that Paul writes in his letters for the recipients to imitate him, to put into practice what they have heard and seen in him.  He wasn't writing to people just like him. He was writing to people just like me, like you.  People in Philippi that had to go to work each day, take care of their family, serve the church and figure out how to do it all in such a way that the Gospel was the focus each and every moment.  Paul urges them to have the same passion and purpose as ministers of reconciliation that he does and to display it in all they do.

So is my life characterized by an extreme (Paul-like extreme) passion to advance the Gospel?  Or is my life already to full of other stuff, even good stuff, to participate in the ministry God has for me?

3.  People.  People are what matter.  People are who need the Gospel.  Is my life too full for the needs of others?  Is my life too full for a new friend who needs not only to hear about Jesus, but to SEE Him in me as I do life?

I know I can't be the only one who struggles with this.  You have someone new come to church.  This is incredible in itself because it is scary to come somewhere new even if you know Jesus, but if you don't know Him, it is flat out courageous!  So you see this person and say hi and maybe sit by them or invite them to your Sunday school class.  But what then?  If you let God give you eyes to see, you will see their need, not only for a Savior, but for a place to belong, for true community, for real friends.  That is where it gets hard.  Do you have room in your life for a new friend?  Do you have time for discipleship when they begin to follow Christ?  Even harder, are you even willing to be their friend when you realize that you don't really "click" or have a lot in common?

Having a life too full for other people happens easily and is very dangerous.  If someone is seeking to know more about Christ, they might come to church.  They expect to see Him in the people there that say they reflect Him, live to glorify Him.  So what message do they get when those same people have no time for them or won't let them fully into their lives?  Loud and clear they hear that we don't care and neither does Jesus.  And they walk away.  And we never even miss them.  We didn't really have room for them in the first place.  That is scary stuff.  Even scarier because it has an eternal impact.

If you're still reading this, thanks!  You've just endured me processing what God is speaking to my heart.  I'm heavy because asking these questions has not revealed a pretty picture in my own life.  I plan to do some serious evaluating in the days and weeks to come.  I invite you to do the same.  I'm praying I can post soon of how God has stripped away the "snacks and space-fillers" in my life to create abundant room for Him and others!  May we be filled with the Spirit, may we feast on His Word and His Presence each day, may we fill our time with living out the mission we've been given, and may we fill our lives with people who need Jesus!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Can I tell you how much I love my little man, Grayson? So much! Seriously . . . I have a stupid grin on my face as I'm typing this.

Grayson is pure delight, brings so much joy and laughter, and is ridiculously cute. He is such a content little guy, but at the same time can be fiery just like his sister . . . and maybe his mom. :) He has a myriad of facial expressions and can work his eyebrows like no other. His smile literally lights up a room and when it gets big, his eyes smile too. (All you other moms are probably thinking that I've just described your kiddo perfectly. And I'm sure I have. Let's just call it a tie in the so-cute-you-just-want-to-put-them-on-a-cracker-and-eat-them-up category!)

Adoring my little man is something I actually worried about before he made his arrival. Not like I didn't think we would love him, but I definitely didn't know how we would adjust going from our self-proclaimed princess to a boy. (If you know Ava you are smiling right now because you've probably witnessed her either dressed up head to toe in jewels and prancing around or she's given you an itinerary and told you what to do because she most definitely likes to think she rules her little kingdom. More likely, you've seen both and so much more!) I'm pretty good at the girly stuff and Chad would have been just fine to have a house full of girls that think their daddy hung the moon!

A change to all things boy made me nervous, but the pressure of raising a boy was heavier on Chad by far. At the ultrasound, we couldn't wait to find out what we were having. The girl kept wasting time showing us his bladder, lungs, nose . . . like we really wanted to know about all that. Just head south so we know pink or blue! Just kidding. We of course wanted to know that he was healthy, but she did spend a ridiculously long time hovering over his stomach before telling us the news. We both cried with joy and then I seriously SAW the weight of the world come over Chad. His faced dropped, his eyes got big and he said "I have to instill godly manhood into our son." The responsibility overwhelmed him and he was freaked out! I of course being so sensitive said "Well not right this minute so snap out of it!" Seriously though, our world desperately needs more godly men so fathers do have a huge privilege and responsibility to "train them up in the way they should go" and model Christ-centered living as a husband, father, employee, and friend. (Obviously moms are a part of this process too, but there is something special about that father-son thing.)

I'm rambling . . . Back to how much I love my son! So the past nine months with Grayson have been so fun. The differences in boys and girls are evident from the beginning, but have been so great to discover . . . he loves to snuggle with his mommy and play rough with daddy . . . just how the world should be! He is very determined, usually trying to get food in his mouth or army crawling as fast as he can as he chases Ava around the house. The only time Grayson gets really mad is when it is time to eat and you don't quite have it ready yet. He'll let you know that you better be on the ball next time!

Regretfully, Grayson has experienced the typical second child syndrome. Until this week, all the pictures of him in our house were from his first month . . . he looks so different that you wouldn't even know they were pictures of him. Poor kid. He has learned to go with the flow mainly because he has no choice. Ava (and mommy) would go completely stir crazy if we were at the house every moment he needs to sleep so naps out and about or no nap at that point in time is working okay for him.

One of my absolute favorite things about Grayson is that he's a blankie kid. I don't give pacifiers when they are really little because I hate having to put them back in every 4 seconds. Ava just waited until I finally gave her a pacifier. Grayson decided that his finger would work just fine. But not just his finger . . . he needs a blankie too. The funniest thing, though, is that he doesn't have a certain blanket he loves and you can never leave the house without. He just wants something to hold before he will put his finger in his mouth. He isn't picky at all. In fact, the only requirement is that it be some sort of fabric. A blanket, a burp cloth, Ava's clothes that are flung all over the house . . . we've literally thrown a sock at him out of desperation and that suited him just fine! I think he looks like Linus from Charlie Brown . . . cuteness like you wouldn't believe!

Today I followed him down the hall as he crawled away from all his toys. His mission: I'm sleepy. Must. Find. Fabric. Now. He made it to the bathroom and decided that a towel hung on the doorknob would do. I love this kid! And maybe I have a slight lead in the put them on a cracker contest!

Monday, September 12, 2011

His Name

We've picked a first name for our little man! I know, I know . . . we haven't even officially started the adoption process with our agency yet. What are we doing picking a name already?

We just can't help it! :) Names are a big deal to us and have been with all our kids. We used to talk about baby names LONG before we ever considered actually trying to have a baby (you know you did it too!). We usually got in these conversations on road trips and would spent quite some time throwing out names to each other. At some point, though, things would derail and Chad would start suggesting things like a possessive name (David's bridal did it, why can't we?) or random nicknames (Cara Melissa, but call her Caramel). It was game over at that point and I would just keep the good ones I came up with in the back of my mind. Thankfully Chad got serious when it was go time and we were picking a name that our child would use for their entire life!

We lost our first baby when I was 9 weeks pregnant. As we mourned, we felt very strongly about giving him (we both just really felt like he was a boy) a name because with a name comes an identity and we absolutely didn't want him to be forgotten. We named him Chad's middle name, Ashton.

We picked our firstborn son's name during one of those road trips I mentioned. Boone is a family name on Chad's side so we both liked the idea of using that as a middle name. I threw out the name Grayson and we never considered another name again!

Our little girl's name didn't come so easy! We knew the middle name would be Noelle, but the first name caused some tension. Chad wanted to use Reagan and I was set on Paige. We both decided to be stubborn and neither of us would give in. Chad suggested we combine them and call her Pagan . . . obviously that got vetoed! During another brainstorming session, I mentioned the name Ava and it just felt right. Knowing Ava now, I can't imagine her by any other name!

With both pregnancies, we couldn't wait to find out whether we were having a boy or girl, not so we could buy pink or blue, but because we were SO excited to start calling our baby by their NAME! It just made it feel so much more real and helped us each bond to this little one as we waited for their arrival.

So why have we chosen a name already? For the same reasons we did with our other children . . . pure excitement and joy that this little boy is OUR little boy! He will have a new identity as our son, as a Gilbert, as . . .


So here's the story of how Easton was chosen. A couple of months ago we started talking about a name, you guessed it, on a road trip! One name we both liked was Tate. I wanted time to feel it out, but Chad was seriously ready to cross stitch it on a pillow! I don't know why, but I just couldn't commit to it. A few weeks later, we met our best friends, Charlie and Lisa Ray, for dinner in Slidell (they live an hour away so we meet
in the middle for dates!). We were discussing names and I confessed that I just couldn't settle on Tate. Lisa started looking up names on her phone and calling them out one after another. At one point, we heard her say "Easton." Chad and I immediately looked up at each other like "I think that's it. Do you think that's it?" Right there in Starbucks, my best friend Lisa helped pick the name of our little man. That fact is really special to us on so many levels and will be a priceless piece of Easton's story!

I'm not going to lie though. I was still a little nervous about committing to it. But last week Ava started praying for her little brother Easton . . . those precious words sealed the deal!

We'll probably keep his Ethiopian name as his middle name so it will be a while until we know what that will be. But from now on, even though we can't see his sweet face, we can pray for him by name!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Raffle Results

And the winner is . . . .

Mandi Eastwood!

Thanks to everyone who entered to win the bows and necklaces! Just in case you were wondering . . . I use the sequence generator on to find out the winner. Totally honest and random! :)

We are so excited about this journey to get our son from Ethiopia and we have been so humbled by all of you that have found ways to walk this journey with us . . . from prayers, t-shirts, sacrificial gifts, yard sale shopping, and raffles . . . you are making this process so special for us!

Be sure to check back on October 1st for the next raffle!

Friday, September 2, 2011

First Adoption Raffle

In honor of my sweet Ava girl turning 3 yesterday, our first raffle for our adoption is going to be perfect for all the cute girly girls out there!

One of my best friends (shout out to Lisa Ray) made 20 hair bows and 2 necklaces for us to raffle. Each bow is handmade and so adorable! The bows can be clipped to a white headband that is also included.

Here are some pictures of the bows . . .

The lighting is kinda bad for this one. The bow on the left is pastel pink just like the other one.

So cute, right?! Ava isn't too big into bows yet or else I might be tempted to keep these! :)

So here is how the raffle will work . . .

A $5 donation will receive 1 entry for the raffle.
A $10 donation will receive 3 entries for the raffle.
A $20 donation will receive 7 entries for the raffle.
If you give more than $20, I'll let you know about the number of entries!

Steps to enter the raffle . . .

1. Use the Donate (PayPal) button on the right side of the blog to make your donation.
2. In the memo or notes section of Paypal, write your email address.
3. I will email you an entry number(s).
4. I will use a random number generator to pick the winner.

After you donate, if you share the link to this blog post on your blog or on facebook, I'll give you an extra entry! Just comment on this post to let me know that you shared the link!

I'll announce the winner on Thursday, September 8th so you have almost a week to donate and to spread the word!

Remember that all the donations will go to bring our son home from Ethiopia! Thank you for walking this journey with us in such fun ways!

(FYI . . . I'm planning to do a raffle on the first of each month so be looking for what's coming up next!)