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!