Amazing Grace!

I believe a few of God's great graces in these 100 degree Louisiana summers are watermelon, backyard sprinklers, and, most importantly, SNOBALLS!

Last year, on this very day, my brand new family of four enjoyed these graces together after celebrating Jaiden's adoption! 

And because I'm obsessively sentimental, we did the exact same three things today....

It. Was. Perfect.

And just a little while ago, rocking my beautiful son during the last few minutes just before bed, I read him the letter I wrote him last year on this day last year... the day his name changed and he became mine forever.

He wiggled pretty consistently and fussed here and there, because he really, really wanted to read We're Going On a Bear Hunt... but every few minutes he would settle back into my lap, notice one of the photos, and peacefully listen for several sentences at a time... and each time my voice cracked (because obviously I was crying), he would looked up at me and ask, "OK, mom?" "More than OK, sweetheart" ...and then the cycle would begin again.

These moments define our daily life this past year: constant motion and activity, lots of strong opinions, all of us do our fair share of fussing, loads and loads of all-day-long snuggling, and moment after moment is cloaked in the kind of love and compassion that makes a two year old know he needs to ask his mama if she's ok.

Daily reminders of God's grace in my life, y'all.... not the snoballs and watermelon kind of grace, but the truly amazing grace that constantly floods over us from a God we get to be loved by!

As much as I love our adoption day traditions, what I love SO much more is the opportunity to look back on and revel in the grace God has shown me in choosing me to be Jaiden's mommy. I didn't create him or carry him, and if I had he wouldn't be who he is today. I thank God daily for his first mommy, the woman he shares a face and whole lot of spunk with, and who loves him in a way that my heart will never be big enough to grasp. 

...and to be honest, when it comes to grasping the grace of God in this beautiful family I've been given, there are moments that I feel a little ill-equipped to parent this rambunctious, energetic, and VERY spirited two year old... and not totally sure I deserve the opportunity to get to try.

...and then there are the moments when I know I'm completely undeserving and ill-equipped to parent him. The moments when he's more athletic than I can even comprehend, or when he smiles that mischievous smile and I know I should discipline him, but OH.MY.GOSH...that face is entirely too much cuteness. Or when he's running circles around me for twelve hours straight and, y'all, I'm just... tired. All those times when he's mad, or sad, or having a meltdown for no known reason in the middle of the night, and this boy wants to be nowhere but in my arms. He may be kicking, hitting, flailing and screaming, but he will not let me let go of him... and I don't know what to do, but I know I don't deserve him.

...and I'll never deserve him. And I'll never be able to equip myself well enough to be the best parent, the parent he deserves. 

 ...but I'm his mom. And I was chosen to be his mom before the foundation of the earth. What a gift! What a incredible blessing and responsibility! And, y'all, what grace! Grace from a God who equips me with HIS armor and HIS wisdom and HIS love and HIS guidance and a community of HIS children to hold my arms up when they just want to drop in exhaustion and weariness from the fear of letting this boy down.

Our journey through foster care and adoption were truly amazing. The foster and adoption community have blessed me beyond belief. My son's first family is an incredible gift... truly incredible! Being Jaiden's mommy is one of the greatest gifts I have ever been entrusted with. The Giver of grace has used these experiences and people to shape our family, to shape me... and to very literally shower us with grace like rain! He has shown me grace from so many angles, each one pointing directly back to Himself and the greatest act of grace in the history of the world... 

Friends, at the end of the day and at the culmination of adoption, the greatest grace in all of this isn't Jaiden and I being chosen for each other... the amazing grace of the Gospel is being chosen to be His Child. Because, y'all, you and I... we were wretches when He saved us, we were lost when He found us, we were completely blind when He opened our eyes to what the amazing grace of Jesus is really about. It's about Him. It's about a death that we deserved but, instead, was sentenced to the Son of God in our place. It's about the Creator of the universe coming to this earth as a man and dying because of our mess, not His. It's about Him willingly seeking out our mess and making it His on the cross in order to make us part of His family... eternally.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, our adoption in Him is a fruit of the gospel, a gift we have been given.... It is completely undeserved, earned only by the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Each of us is completely ill-equipped to carry out His purpose for us on this earth if not carried under His wings of grace each and every day... and He has claimed us as His own. His sons and daughters... a thousand years ago, today, and forever.... no. matter. what.

Through His call on our hearts toward foster care God gifted us the earthly experience of adoption. And, y'all, this past year has revealed this truth more than anything: this boy is my son... One hundred years ago, today, and forever... no. matter. what.

What a truly incredible reminder that today... I am His.

Though I was born in sin and filth, far from being claimed as a daughter of the King..., tomorrow, forever,

I am His.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!

A Thrill of Hope

I met my son for the first time two years ago today.

I'm not going to share the details of the how and where of that moment, but I will share this...

It was dark when I peaked in the back driver's side window of a social worker's car and the words that came out of my mouth still come out daily.

"Oh my goodness. His cheeks!"

His. Cheeks.

...and they have only gotten better and better.

It was a uniquely perfect day. The day we met the baby who would become our son.

I remember it like it was yesterday. The drive to pick him up, my phone call to my aunt on the way, the way I felt when I saw him, peeking back at him the whole drive home, introducing him to Mercy, the way she instantly fell in love with him, what we had for dinner with our good friend who stayed with Mercy, giving him his first bottle, and the snuggling that first night...

But one specific memory stands out when I think back... Grabbing him out of his carseat, kissing those amazing cheeks for the very first time, pressing his eight pound eight ounce frame tight against me... and that moment when my life fell together at the very same time that somebody else's fell apart.

Right in that second, our need for abundant HOPE became more clear than ever before. He needed hope, we needed hope, and his mama needed hope more than anything... because it was nine days before Christmas and she just lost her newborn son, and that had to feel pretty hopeless.

This year especially, as we approach our first Christmas with Jaiden as our son, having seen our hopes for our life with him come alive, I think I'm understanding the gift of hope in a new light.

The hope we have for Jaiden's life... It's not just there, something we pray about and experience peace through.... Our hope is thrilling. And it is every synonym of thrilling... Breathtaking. Exhilarating. Electrifying. Inspiring. Mind boggling. ( It's exciting, it lights up our hearts and fills us with joy. He has given us hope and made us understand it in a brand new light. In His light.

Because many years ago on a starry night in Bethlehem, He brought a newborn baby boy into the world. His boy, His only son, and that baby boy gave this weary world hope.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth." (Ephesians 1:3-10, emphasis added)

When I read Paul's words about our adoption through Christ, I hear him defining the thrill of hope. And in a year and month and day that so many feel weary, down, depressed and hopeless, how we need the thrilling hope that He gives us! Hope for every spiritual blessing. Hope that He chose us before the creation of the world. Hope that because of His Son Jesus, we will stand before Him one day, holy and blameless. Hope that we were predestined to become His children, adopted out of our sin, out of this weary world and into His glorious grace. Hope for the redemption found in the blood of His son, who He gave up, forgiving our sins and lavishing His grace upon us. This was His will, His perfect purpose for us, to unite His children to Himself for all of eternity, and friends... how thrilling is that??

Today I am praying the thrill of hope for my son's first mommy, even on this day that brings devastating memories and loads of guilt and regret. That she would look to Christ for the hope of redemption and that when she does she would experience His grace flowing over her, her soul feeling it's worth and knowing her position before Him. Holy. Blameless. Guiltless.

Today I am praying the thrill of hope for my son. That as he grows he will become acutely aware of his need for the riches of God's grace. That it would be God's will to adopt him into His eternal family, lavishing His grace upon him and making him an heir of the King.

Today I am praising God for showing us the thrill of hope through this child He brought to us two years ago. That he gave us an earthly experience of adoption so that we would understand on a deeper level how great our adoption into His family is. Completely undeserved, granted by the blood of His only son, and sealed for eternity. Redeemed, forgiven, adopted. And I'm praying that when we're weary we would remember this thrill, that our hope would become alive again, that Jesus would continually remind us of the eternity of hope that He provided for us on the cross.

Would you pray with us today and in the days leading up to the celebration of the thrill of the hope the Jesus? Would you pray for renewal in our hearts and yours? Would you pray that the thrill of hope would be found and clung to in the hearts of the children and families affected by foster care this Christmas?

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
— O Holy Night

Merry Christmas, friends!

Thank you for all you do for us and how you have loved our family so well!