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!  

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Truth about HIV: History of HIV

You  may remember when I first shared on the blog that God had spoken to us about adopting a son with HIV that I mentioned another adoptive mama who was the catalyst for my eyes being opened to HIV.  She was faithful to speak out on behalf of little ones with HIV, their great need for forever families, and the TRUTH about HIV.

The statistic that gripped my heart then and still makes me fight back tears is this . . .

"HIV medications available in the West have made HIV a manageable chronic illness, but in poor countries, 50% of children who are undiagnosed and/or untreated will die by the age of 2 yrs." 

This amazing adoptive mama has a precious son that could have been part of this statistic.  When he came home at 7 months, his viral load was 2.5 million.  The doctors said he wouldn't have made it to his 2nd birthday.  (posted with permission)

But last week I rejoiced as my friend shared that after just 6 months home, her son's viral load is now UNDETECTABLE!  (This doesn't mean the virus is gone, but that there is such a small amount of the HIV virus in the blood that the levels are undetectable!)

I can't wait for the day (and oh I pray that day will come) when we will rejoice in Easton's undetectable viral load!!  I have such HOPE.  But it breaks my heart that there are millions of mothers, fathers, and children who have no such hope.

Do you see the amazing, life-saving difference that having access to HIV medication can make?  Do you see how important it is for families to set aside fears and adopt HIV positive orphans so they might have hope?  Do you see how important it is for HIV medication to be made available and affordable no matter what country you live in?  

Another issue is the reality that there is absolutely no reason that an infant should become infected with HIV from their mother.  This mother-to-child transmission is almost gone in first world countries, but it is shocking that massive numbers of newborns in third world countries are still being infected with the virus each year.  

The video below gives a good recap of the last 30 years from the eyes of the children that this disease has attacked and communicates the hope of NO MORE mother-to-child transmissions.  It also shows our history . . . how the fear and stigma began immediately and is something people living with HIV still have to face each day.   

I started my series on HIV months ago, but for some reason writing a post about the history of this disease has just proven too much for me.  I've read and researched, but can barely wrap my mind around all that has happened with HIV in the last 30 years.  

The impact is massive.  The death toll is unspeakable.  The stigma is shameful.  The corruption is sickening.  The injustice is heart-wrenching.  I couldn't begin to put it into words.

But there is hope.

ARVs are saving lives.  Fear is being reduced.  People are fighting the stigma and speaking out.  Precious orphans are being adopted.  Medicine is advancing and hopefully one day soon there will be a cure.  

And above all this, I've been reminded through my study of 1 Peter of our greatest Hope of all . . . one that can't be touched by a virus or tainted by corruption.  

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
1 Peter 1:3-5

(If you want to actually know details of the history of HIV (since I was basically no help!), definitely read 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa!)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Giveaway Winner & A Reason to Smile

A big thank you to everyone who left an encouraging word or a sweet prayer for our Easton!  I can't imagine going through this journey alone and I praise God for using His people to encourage our hearts over and over again!  A chance at a free t-shirt is the least I can do for all the peeps who have walked beside us or are traveling this road as well!

And the winner is . . .

Joy Hanson!

Congrats Joy!  Just let me know what size and I'll bring it to you on Sunday!  
(btw, I used to pick the winner)

I'm not gonna lie . . . it has been a rough day in the Gilbert House.  So maybe you are like me and just need a reason to smile, a chance to put things in perspective  . . . well here you go!

I can get so flippin frustrated, but then I look at these two cuties and have nothing else to do but thank God for His abundant blessings and pray for the grace to love them well.  

Grayson is ABSOLUTELY. IN. LOVE. with his Scooby Do hat.  But only if it is backwards.  
I could eat him with a spoon. :)

Hope this makes you smile!  (And maybe if you are having a day like mine, you should find a cute picture of your kiddos . . . couldn't hurt!)

Monday, October 1, 2012

September Waitlist Number and a Giveaway

Our waitlist number for September is . . .

(down 2 spots from 105 in August)

Not gonna lie, I was definitely hoping for double digits. :(  

Each number represents a family waiting.  And each family is waiting for a precious son or daughter (or both).  

Please pray with us that the numbers would drop . . . not just so we are closer to Easton, but on behalf of those who these numbers represent . . . the amazing little ones waiting for a forever family!

People have been asking how we are doing in the wait.  Honestly, we're at a good place.  

One, we certainly aren't just sitting around while we wait . . . our two littles keep us plenty busy so there isn't much time to dwell on the fact that Easton isn't here yet.

Two, we are intentionally trying to trust in the sovereignty and perfect timing of God.  When the time is right, we'll get the call.  Simple as that.  Worrying about it won't do anything to help us in the meantime.  That isn't to say that we aren't waiting with anticipation and excitement, because we definitely are.  There is an ache for our son and the hope of meeting him soon, but it isn't filled with anxiety or frustration, instead it is a peace that surpasses understanding . . . thank you Jesus!

So we're good.  But please don't stop asking.  It encourages our hearts to know that others are just as excited about Easton as we are!

So in anticipation that October will be a crazy month of referrals and with hope that we'll be in double digits soon . . . 

I'm giving away an adoption t-shirt!

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment on the blog.  But don't leave me bored . . . tell me something fun or an encouraging word for our wait or a prayer for Easton . . . it won't give you a better chance to win, but it will make my heart happy! :)

The only bad news is that I only have sizes Large, Extra Large, and 2X.  But even if that isn't your size, you can still enter to win and then have a fun prize to give away!

I'll announce the winner on Thursday afternoon!  Thanks for walking this journey with us!