Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Gilberts!

You can quit checking the mailbox . . . this post is our Christmas card this year!  The past two months have passed so quickly in a blur of sickness, travel, and busyness so my intentions of mailing out a cute card just didn't happen.  

But I must admit that the main reason you won't have a picture to put on your fridge is that I'm praying we'll be able to send out an adoption announcement soon.  I want a card with our family of five and my sweet Easton's face on your fridge instead!

Highlights from 2012

January . . . Chad and I were blessed to attend a Pastor's Retreat at Winshape Camps for four days and, most amazingly, for FREE.  There aren't words to describe how needed and amazing this time was for our marriage and in ministry.  {As if we needed more reasons to love Chick-fil-A!}

January . . . Chad's mom spent 10 days in the hospital after finding out that she has auto-immune hepatitis that has severely damaged her liver.  It was a scary time for our family, but we are so thankful for God's care for Grammy.  She has had a roller coaster year and is on the liver transplant list, but overall has stabalized.  We continue to pray for God's healing and sustaining power to be on her as she enjoys life with her three grandbabies!

February . . . Cole turns 31!

March . . . I attended Created for Care, an adoption conference just for moms, where I got to hear amazing testimonies from adoptive moms and meet other mamas from our agency {now we aren't just online friends!}.

March . . . God spoke and we obeyed.  We changed our adoption parameters so that we will adopt a son who is HIV positive.  God is already doing mighty things through our Easton!

April . . . Ava and Grayson have a cousin!  Chad's sister, Leigh Ann, had Penelope {Penny} on April 3rd and we have had so much fun loving on that sweet girl!

May . . . We enjoyed fabulous vacation to Florida with my family and Grayson got to experience the beach for the first time . . . not a fan!

June . . . Chad went on a mission trip to Guatemala with members from Edgewater as well as people from other churches in Louisiana.  They served at a malnutrition center for children {lots of fun times with adorable little ones} and shared the Gospel with the locals they met.

July . . . We finally got on AGCI's adoption waitlist!  Now we can watch our number drop each month as we wait to see Easton's face!

July . . . God has provided for our adoption in some major ways, including my cousins giving us their van!  We picked it up in September and are still praising God each time we get in!

July . . . Chad and I celebrated our 9th anniversary!  {I'm praying our 10th will be celebrated in Ethiopia!}

August . . . Chad celebrated 4 years as Pastor of Edgewater!  We are so grateful to God for planting us in a city we love with a faith family we love!

September . . . Ava's 4th birthday and a hurricane evacuation!

September . . . Chad and I went to the Empowered to Connect adoption/parenting conference in Nashville.  
Life. Changing.  

October . . . I continue to do ministry with Inward to men and women in the sex industry on Bourbon Street.  I attended a conference on sex trafficking and shared on the blog about the outrage that should come when we realize what is happening right here in the US.    

October . . . God provides not only for our needs, but also just blesses us with gifts out of His great love!  We had a swing set given to us!

November . . . Chad turns 32!

November . . . Chad and I attended several kindergarten open houses.  I'm still trying to figure out how it is possible that our baby girl will be going to school next year!  We're trusting in God's sovereignty in where Ava should go to school . . . the lottery system in NOLA schools is some kind of C.R.A.Z.Y. :)

December . . . Grayson turns 2!

December . . . We have a new addition to the family . . . Tilly, the cutest little mutt you've ever seen, has been such a joy so far!

2012 can be summed up in one word . . . grace.  

God's grace in our lives is overwhelming, undeserved, and is what we hope to proclaim in all we do and say.

We are especially thankful for His grace during this Christmas season.  Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us . . . What grace that God would become a man to rescue us from sin and provide with His death and resurrection our only hope for salvation and eternal life!

We pray that you will have eyes to see God's grace in your life, hearts of gratitude for what He has done on your behalf in Christ, and an amazing Christmas celebration spent in worship of our King.

"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."  Luke 2:10-11

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Introducing . . .

 Did you freak out for a moment?  That was a little mean of me . . . my bad. ;)

You have no idea how much I would love to write a post introducing our son and showing off pictures of Easton, but introducing this sweet face is the next best thing!

Our newest addition to the Gilbert family is . . .


We might be crazy, but we are already in love!  Seriously, how could we not fall head over heels for this cutie?!

Tilly was our Christmas prize for the kids, but the timing of everything meant that they got to open this prize this morning.  I took a video of them opening the box with her inside . . . so precious . . . but something is wrong with my camera/video/computer and I can't get it to upload.  Major frustration.  So these pictures will have to do!

Update!  My amazing friend, Boyd Guy, came over tonight to help me get my videos working again!  So beyond grateful because you will love seeing this video!

Chad started asking for a dog in the Spring, but I firmly said no.  My plan was to wait until Grayson was potty trained, or Easton was home, or until I felt like I wouldn't lose my mind by adding a puppy to the mix.  Obviously none of these have happened (I could very well lose my mind), but here we are with this cutie and even I am really excited.  

Chad, of course, is like a little boy with all his excitement, Grayson just keeps laughing and yelling DOG with absolutely no volume control, and Ava is just thankful that Tilly wants to lay by her and be her friend. {Priceless}

A great friend at our church owns a rock yard business and Chad has been doing a Bible study out there on Tuesday mornings for almost three years.  One of the guys out there had all these puppies, but when Chad would hang out with him, Tilly would crawl in Chad's lap while all the others were jumping around everywhere.  It didn't take long for Chad to start dropping hints, but I was definitely resistant.  After all, nothing on my list has been accomplished. :)

Chad was wearing me down and then sealed the deal by taking all of us out to see the puppies on Grayson's birthday.  Tricky, tricky.  He knew Grayson would just get excited to see dogs and it would be a fun family outing for his birthday.  But Chad also knew that one look at this face and I'd be a goner.  Um . . .Yep. 

So we've spent the last week getting all the stuff that is needed for a puppy. {a friend blessed us with a gift and it literally paid for every dollar we spent on puppy supplies . . . God provides!} I've been googling to try and figure out how on earth you get a puppy trained. {Today has been successful, but I'm not looking forward to going back to newborn stage with middle of the night duty!}  And we've had to make sure our families will be on board for an extra guest for Christmas!

But most of all, we've spent the week anticipating the joy our kids would have when they realized that Tilly is ours.  I think Chad was secretly hoping for the typical movie reaction with the screaming and jumping up and down.  That didn't happen.  What's funny is that the first thing Ava said was, "Remember that movie where there was a puppy in the present?"  I was like, "Yeah Ava. That's happening to you!"  And of course Grayson just squealed and said "DOG" over and over.  Then he kept looking in the empty box.  Seriously kid, I know boxes are exciting, but you've got a D.O.G. right over here! :)

They have been so sweet with her today and Ava is really excited to help take care of her.  We're just hoping Grayson quickly grasps the concept of being gentle and the fact that Tilly does NOT like being hit with plastic golf clubs. 

We chose the name, Tilly, to continue our tradition of New Orleans inspired names for our pets {We had a gecko for 5 years named Beignet!}.  Tilly comes from Gentilly, which is the area of New Orleans that we live in.  The first apartments we lived in when we moved here 8 years ago were also named "The Gentilly."  We tossed around a bunch of NOLA names, but couldn't think of anything else that fit better than Tilly for our sweet girl.  

Just looked at the clock and it is time to go outside for a potty break.  Gotta get myself back in baby mode with this crate training schedule!

{During our outside time the kids discovered the joy of Tilly's nipping.  Ava was screaming in terror when her game of chase turned into Tilly literally nipping at her heels.  And then when I stepped inside to get Tilly her bone, I came back out to her pouncing on a fallen Grayson, which resulted in our first blood.  And it's still day one.  Lord help us!}

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Big #2 for Grayson

 How is it possible that my baby boy is 2 years old today?  

Unfortunately, it seems we have a trend when it comes to Grayson's birthday . . . ear infections.  Bleh.  I wrote his birthday post last year with a ton of pictures because Grayson was sick and I didn't have time to write all about his first year.  {Check it out if you have a minute . . . he was so stinkin' cute as a baby!}

So once again, you're getting a post with an obscene amount of pictures because that is about all I can manage.  The Gilberts have been sick for 6 weeks, the latest is Ava with an ear infection and Grayson most likely with one . . . yesterday the poor kid was coughing all day, didn't nap (shoot me), and spent all of dinner crying with his finger stuck in his ear.  Looks like I'll be begging for antibiotics today. :(

Grayson was such a cute and amazingly chill baby.  As a toddler, he is just a flat out hilarious and even more adorable than I thought possible.  We've had such a great year as we've seen his personality develop and come out {in full force}.  He keeps us laughing, can be so tender and sweet, and is 100% ALL BOY.  {I'll confess that I've had my moments of wondering if I'll be able to handle two of them once Easton is home because Grayson is so curious, rambunctious, and W.I.L.D.}  

It has been really interesting to watch his relationship with Ava change this year . . . particularly because he has caught up to her in size!  He was pushed around by that big sister for a long time, but no more.  We've finally broken him from tackling her when he is angry, but she better watch her back!  Even so, they can also be so sweet and thoughtful to each other . . . most notably shown when Grayson offers Ava his blanket if she gets hurt and says, "A-ha. Ouch."  That is some love right there. :)

This year I asked God to give me a Psalm to pray for each of my kids.  Last week I found Grayson's . . . Psalm 138.  

"I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things your name and your word."
Psalm 138:1-2

I pray that my boy {my perfect combo of wild, sweet, and funny}would worship God with his whole heart, would give God all the thanks and glory He is due, and would live a life of reckless abandon to exalting the name of Jesus Christ and the Word of God!

And without further ado, pictures of my cute boy this year . . .

He started off his first year letting me know that he wants to do EV.ER.Y.THING. by himself.  And so I've spent the last year cleaning up more food off his face, his clothes, and our floor than I could even imagine!

He loves books just about as much as he loves to make a mess!

One of my favorites. ever.

My boy loves to "help" and can apparently multitask well. :)

Oh my heart.  My precious little Linus.
{and contrary to his first year, the fabric absolutely matters . . . waffle blankets only!}

No fear.  Grayson has absolutely no fear, especially in the water.  He love swimming and will just walk off the edge or run in the pool and evidently is assured that someone will be there to catch him.  Keeps me on my toes!

I'm afraid this kid has many years of being dressed up in front of him!

Such a Daddy's boy and so snuggly.

First real haircut.  The sucker bought us a few minutes . . . until it was covered in hair!

Who knew how much fun a rubbermaid could be?  Grayson doesn't need fancy toys, but his favorites right now are trains, trucks, and tractors.  

My boy LOVES animals {mainly dogs}, but he is even brave with a gator!

Loved this one with his Daddy.

But the little punk couldn't sit still one minute for a pic with his Mama.  Grrrrr.

A rare family photo with me actually in it before we took the kids on their first streetcar ride.

No more facing backwards!

Lili got Grayson this Scooby Do hat and there were a few weeks where it was always on his head . . . but always backwards!

Love my boy!

Grayson is all about riding Ava's bike.  And unfortunately wearing her princess helmet.  Pretty sure he'll be getting one of his own for Christmas!

Dragon? Lizard? Dinosaur?  He could have cared less as long as I took that hood off of him!

I'm thankful to have a little man who wants to be just like his Daddy . . . he couldn't have a better one!

And notice his "big boy" haircut!
I freaked out at first because it changed his look so much, but now I love it!

I'm kinda done with birthday parties, but my kids certainly aren't suffering.  We've been celebrating Grayson's birthday since Thanksgiving and he's loved every bite!  

Priceless = Grayson's reaction to the three of us busting in his room singing "Happy Birthday."  He's been walking around all day saying "happy, happy, happy!"

Grayson was really excited to open his prize!

Bahahahahaha!  This face says, "You have no idea the power you've just placed in my hands.  I'm gonna rock out!"

Cutest rock star I know!

We quickly moved into a family jam session . . . with a huge box as a stage?!

Congrats . . . you've made it through Grayson overload!  Thanks for celebrating with us!

Which pic was your favorite?
What is your favorite memory of my little man?

Monday, December 3, 2012

November Waitlist Number

Finally (officially) in double digits!

I'm excited to see some movement this month, but I have to be honest . . . these past few weeks have been hard.  I don't know if it is the holidays, but my heart is aching and tears are falling a little more than usual.

These are the moments that I'm so thankful for how God has written our story, though.  I can let my mind wander to the fact that if we had done a domestic adoption, we would most likely have a child in our arms right now.  But I can quickly take those thoughts captive by looking back to how clearly God led us to the truth that our son is in Africa.  Yes, this means a longer wait, but when I see his sweet face, I will know that every day of waiting was worth it.

It just seems that I've had to remind myself a little more frequently that this wait is in God's plan, is for our good, will bring us to Easton, and is something I can and will endure by His Spirit.

We've only been on the waitlist since July, but we started the adoption process in June of last year.  

A year and a half.  



And waiting . . .

So if you have a moment, would you pray for our hearts?  

Pray for peace in God's plan, pray that we will embrace all that God desires to do in and through us while we wait, and pray that God will lavish His grace on Easton and Easton's birthfamily.

Thank you!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Orphan Care

{I started writing this post on Nov. 5th and am just now finishing . . . it's been a crazy month!}

November 4th was designated in churches all over the US (and hopefully the world) as Orphan Sunday.

A day set aside to dwell on what God's Word reveals about His love and concern for orphans and to highlight and educate the Church about the global orphan crisis.

I helped put together the Orphan Sunday emphasis at Edgewater so I'd love to share with you some of the verses and statistics we shared through a video with our faith family . . .

God’s heart for the orphan is unmistakable. 

“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.”  Deut. 10:18

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families . . .”  Psalm 68:5-6

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.  Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”  Asaph’s cry to God in Psalm 82:3-4

The numbers are staggering.

The UNICEF definition of an ORPHAN:  a child who has lost one parent (single orphan) or both parents (double orphan)

The total number of orphans worldwide – 153 million 

The number of orphans worldwide who have lost both parents – 17.8 million 

In most of the world, to lose your father means the loss of all provision, protection, and hope.

The number of orphans who have lost their father – 101 million 

The number of children who are orphaned by AIDS each day – 6,000 

The percent of HIV positive children in resource poor settings who will die – 50% by the age of 2 

The number of children in the US foster system – 500,000 

The number of children waiting in US foster care who are qualified for adoption – 104,000 

The number of young people who “age out” of the foster system each year without a family – 20,000 

The number of children in the foster system in New Orleans – 450 

The call is clear.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  James 1:27

Now here is where things can get a bit confusing, heated, and just flat out wrong.  When we see God's heart for orphans and we understand the call for the Church to care for orphans, there can be the tendency to put a simple equation together . . . Orphan Care = Adoption.  

The problem is that this equation isn't true and believing this way leaves out a massive number of orphans who still need our care.  Adoption is most definitely part of orphan care, but orphan care is not in any way limited to adoption.

Those who have or are adopting are usually passionate and excited to talk about adoption specifically, but this can sometimes come across as communicating that false equation. 

Adoption is amazing, needed, and certainly Gospel proclaiming, but it isn't the only way.  I'm sorry if any of you have ever gotten that message and felt guilty or judged or resolved that you can't be involved in caring for orphans unless you adopt.  You can!

With this confusion in mind, we also gave our faith family a handout with 10 ways to be involved in orphan care that I'd love to share with you as well (my friend, Brigette, made a beautiful handout, but I can't figure out how to get it on here. Grrrrr. So you just get a plain old list.).  We used a similar resource found at, but made it specific to the needs and opportunities at Edgewater. 

Ten Practical Ways to Engage in Orphan Care

  1. PRAY for Orphans.  Display a waiting child’s picture in your home or car to help remind you to pray ( or Use the 40 Days of Prayer for Orphans guide at
  2. SPEAK UP on their behalf.  Share God’s heart for the orphan and information about the global orphan crisis with family and friends.  Become a court appointed special advocate for a child in foster care (
  3. DONATE to Edgewater's adoption fund or to organizations that give grants to adoptive families (,
  4. VISIT orphans in their context.  Pray for the India mission trip in March 2013 as they serve at an orphanage. Be looking for future mission trips involving orphan care. Volunteer at a group home in NOLA (,,
  5. SERVE those who have adopted or are fostering.  You could write an encouraging note, babysit, mow their lawn, or bring them a meal.
  6. INTERCEDE for those in our faith family who already have or are in the process of adopting or providing foster care. (I listed all the Edgewater families, but won't throw all their names out on here!)
  7. GIVE sacrificially to allow our India mission team to purchase 5 water bu ffalos for the orphanage in order to provide much needed milk for the approximately 300 orphans there.
  8. SUPPORT orphans in practical ways.  Sponsor a child with a financial gi ft and encouraging letters (,,, Connect with a young adult who has aged out of the foster system.  Mentor a child in a local group home.
  9. PARTICIPATE in opportunities to care for orphans provided by our Orphan Care and Foster Care Life Groups. Th e Foster Care Life Group is kicking off a "3 Day Bag" project for children brought into the foster system and could use our help!
  10. PURSUE adopting or fostering. For more information on becoming a foster family or adopting a child through international, domestic, or foster care adoption, a resource list is available in the foyer. (We had a list of books, websites, agencies, and info for local foster care to give families a place to start as they pray for direction.)

I hope, as was our prayer for the Orphan Sunday emphasis, that you have clearly seen God's heart for orphans and the Church's call to be the hands and feet of Jesus to them.  

For some of you, I hope this list has taken away the guilt or judgment you've felt about not adopting and given you new ideas and a renewed desire to engage in orphan care in different ways as God leads.

And maybe for a few, I'm hoping that you are no longer able to ignore the call.  If you are a Christ follower, your life should be marked by what proclaims the heart of God . . . orphan care, then, cannot be denied or pushed off on others.  Don't ask God, "Should I care for orphans?" . . . that answer is YES!  Instead, dare to ask, "How should I care for orphans?" and watch God rock your world!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I want to apologize if I’ve ever come across on the blog as super-spiritual or like I’ve got it all together.  Because I’m not and I don’t. 

I usually don’t write on the blog until I’ve processed things, until I’ve come out on the other side.  So maybe I don’t do a good enough job of communicating the hard and weary road in the middle.  I’m sorry if that has made it seem like I’m something I’m not.

Cause I’m messed up.  I struggle with sin.  I fail. 

I need Jesus.  I need the salvation that only comes through His life, death, burial, and resurrection.  I need the Gospel.

And, as was all too clear today, I need to be reminded of the Gospel daily.  I need it in front of me.  I need to preach it to myself moment by moment.

But (and I’m about to get real honest here folks) what I usually preach to myself is far different.  My thought life at times goes like this . . .

I think about something negative that others are probably thinking about me (but there is no one else in the conversation so it is really just the negative I think about myself).  Then I’m beat down, ashamed, and defensive.  So I naturally defend myself against this attack (defending myself to myself . . . I told you I’m messed up!).  I remind myself of why I’m not so bad and bring to the front anything positive until I feel better about myself.  Sick.

The main problem is that nothing in this scenario proclaims the Gospel.

Self-condemnation is not the Gospel.

Self-righteousness is not the Gospel.

I am hopeless apart from the grace of God in Christ . . . that is the Gospel!  Jesus died on my behalf so that the condemnation of sin is no longer mine.  He died so that my righteousness, that could never be enough, is not what secures my future or makes me a child of God. 

Are you wondering where all of this confession is coming from?  I’ll tell you where . . . World War III with my girl today!

Ava is sick (I hate you croup!) so I’ve spent $35 and the last 24 hours trying to get some medicine to help her not sound like a barking seal.  The doctor for some reason thought that it would be possible to get a 4 year old to swallow 7 mL of a one dose medicine instead of giving us the three dose stuff that Grayson has taken just fine.  Add to that the fact that the pharmacist failed to tell us that said medicine tasted like death so we didn’t even think of trying to have flavoring added.  This resulted in a massive battle with our tip-lipped 27 pounder and EVERY. SINGLE. DROP. of that precious medicine being spit on the floor.

Now can you understand why I have been reminded today to preach the Gospel to myself?  I need grace!  I lost my mind during the drama, yelled at my sweet girl, and was as frustrated as I’ve been in a long time.

I spent this afternoon so grieved and ashamed at how quickly my flesh can rise up.  Then I worshiped because I was fully aware of my need for forgiveness and so grateful that I’m already forgiven.  The Gospel.

After prayers and tears, I sat down to read Hosea.  I’ll begin teaching Hosea this week, but I just wanted to read . . . not for study or information, but with hope that God would whisper sweet words to my hurting heart. 

I only made it to verse two. J

“When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea . . .”

The whisper. 

Before God was going to use Hosea to proclaim His words to others, Hosea needed to understand the message himself.  He needed to know the heart of God.  He needed firsthand experience with love and grace.

And it’s still the same.  As a follower of Christ, I’ve been given a mission to make disciples.  But how could I ever expect someone to be overwhelmed by God’s grace if I’m not?  How can I passionately share the great love of Jesus if I’m not gripped by it?  How can I honestly speak to someone about their great need unless I’m keenly aware of my own? 

I need to never believe I’m so different from those with whom I’m sharing the Gospel.  No different in fact . . . needy, hopeless, a wreck . . . but for the grace of God.  That heart knowledge brings compassion in proclamation . . . and you know our world could use a little more of that!

So although it has been draining day, I’m thankful for the reminder of my great need of grace.  I’m humbled at the great price Jesus paid on my behalf.  I’m grateful for the salvation that I could never deserve or earn.  I have a fresh joy as I consider all that is mine in Christ.  And I have a renewed desire to proclaim the good news that has transformed me.

Because the Gospel, when you’re brought face to face with it, begs to be shared. 

So if you’re a mess like me and have no hope or peace other than what you can muster on your own, leave me a comment . . . I have something I’d love to share with you! 

And if you’re a mess like me (cause we all are!), but do have hope in Jesus, then I pray that my rough day will serve as a reminder of the great grace, the moment by moment grace, that is yours in Christ!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween High/Low

We've started playing High/Low at dinner each night.  Everyone gets a chance to share their high and their low for the day.  Ava picks the order we go in (shocker) and she has really gotten in to it . . . sometimes even surprising us with what she chooses.  It's turned in to a great new family tradition!

Anyway, it's been a big day so I'm going to do a little high/low to share!

Bad news first . . . We got our October waitlist number and while it is my low for the day, low definitely isn't the word to describe our new number.  102 this month.  Bleh.  If you didn't remember, we were 103 last month.

As I said in September, we really are trusting in God's timing, but it is definitely still disappointing to see such little movement when you know that there are so many orphans who need families and so many families waiting to welcome a little one in.  I'm praying for God to work in mighty ways this month . . . referrals, court dates, embassy dates, and kiddos coming home as sons and daughters!

Definitely a low, but I have two highs to make up for it!

Fran came over today with Liam and Clara, her two cuter-than-cute kiddos!  Fran and I were roommates in college and God has blessed us to stay so close and even live only 30 minutes apart so we can have play dates like this!  Our times together are getting crazier with every kid we add, but it is priceless to drink coffee, talk about what God is doing in our lives, and marvel at how much has changed since our days at Tech (10 years ago!).

And of course Halloween was a high for today!  My princess and dinosaur were adorable!

This Edgewater's fourth year of Make the Most of Halloween and it was awesome again this year!  We have dinner at the church and then go out as groups to trick or treat in the neighborhood.

But along with candy, we also pick up food that our neighbors donate for our Fuel the Future project to fight hunger in our community.  Bags of food are sent home from school with kids on Friday so that at risk kids are assured to have food over the weekend.  One of our life groups coordinates all this, but we've been amazed at how our neighbors have jumped on board to help this cause!

These two are so serious, but so cute!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Swingin', Paintin', Ridin', Readin'

Not a lot so say today, but some great pictures to share!

I'm a little late, but WE HAVE OUR SWING SET!

We've had it for a couple of weeks now and it is amazing!  The kids are no longer bored outside (although some days I'd prefer boredom to the number of new ways Grayson has to hurt himself!).  And Ava now has a two-story house to manage when she assumes her role as "mommy" to all her babies.

Chad and Papa T built a floor (Ava's stage, of course) on the bottom.  We enjoyed a picnic lunch out there just today!  Already, on several of Chad's days off, our whole family has spent hours out here . . . the kids running, sliding, and swinging while Chad and I have been able to sneak in quality adult conversation unnoticed. :)

None of it would have been possible without our crew!  Huge thanks to Tim, Papa T, and JB for giving up a Saturday morning and working so hard to bless our family!

Grayson is growing up so much I can hardly stand it.  He'll now (somewhat) participate in the art projects I plan and he LOVES to color.

He's also taken over Ava's bike (and unfortunately for him, her princess helmet too)!  He rides all over the place and is quick to jump back on even when that mean bike throws him off!

I so love living in New Orleans.  Obviously the food and culture of NOLA is incredible.  But I also just love that there are so many amazing free things to do!

Last weekend we spent the morning at the public library's book fest on St. Charles.  Free food, crafts for the kiddos, and we walked out with 25 free books (most of which went under the bed to save for Christmas . . . I'm just hoping I remember that in December!)

Ava had the privilege of meeting Ruby Bridges and getting her book signed.  Our sweet Ava, like most young kids, thinks nothing of skin color in a negative way.  She's even said she's excited to have a brown brother one day!  So it was a heartbreaking moment to explain to her the significance of what Ruby did as a little girl.  What a sad history to have to teach, but praise God that he is raising up a new generation who will know that value comes from our Creator and not our color!

They had a stage where local authors read their children's books.  We got to hear one of our favorites, Goodnight NOLA, read!

Not so interested in the books, but these Clifford ears are a blast!

This is our Life Group.  We meet every Monday night at our house for dinner, discussion, accountability, prayer, laughs, coffee, crazy kids, orphan care, and a common desire to know God and make Him known.  Oh how I love these friends!