Thursday, May 1, 2014

Divine, Messy Gifts are the Best! December 2013

Let's get to it!

We went on a Christmas Tree Hunt with Grandma and Grandpa Wager as soon as we could!
A day at Apple Hill ended with a warm meal and cute kiddos in Jammies.

Advent popped up quickly this year since Thanksgiving fell on the last Thursday in November.

I wanted to do something hands on, fun, and educational for Ethan to help explain what Christmas is all about.

I found Truth in the Tinsel when Ethan wasn't quite 2-years-old yet.
My little busy body wasn't ready for it until this year.

It's packed with scripture, crafts, and lots of Mommy & Me time.
We would do this during Grace's nap time and I loved the conversations and creativity that took place.
I think each year will bring a new depth with a deeper understanding of the joy and anticipation of Jesus that Advent brings.

A few random photos of December…
Dancing in the kitchen with my babes.
Ethan makes her belly laugh :D

Small Group Revisited!
Dan & Gina invited our small group… a group of peeps waaaaay back when… for a night of sights and Christmas lights! Below is a picture of the men (plus, Kona. Minus Josh).

Then some cuteness mixed with some crazy hair.

You know how there are some days when you wake up and you're just grateful to God that He gifted you with perfect timing?

One glorious December morning I opened my eyes to the sight of Ethan holding my hair in one hand and holding scissors in the other.

Luckily, the hair was still attached to my head.

You know… like that kind of perfect timing.

NO? Maybe it's just me…

I did find out later that day that my makeup brushes were not given such grace.

Ooooh Ethan!
That's enough Tangled for you!

Speaking of the source… we made a very bad decision to visit Disneyland.
We had planned to go the first weekend in December but Friday night, Grace threw up… multiple times.
Sweet, sad Squish smiled in between episodes.

She slept through the night and woke up happy keeping several bottles down…
We honestly thought she had what I had the day before Thanksgiving… a 12-24 hour sickness.

So what do we do?
Resume plans to Disneyland!

As we pull into the Grapevine for dinner… Grace threw up all over herself and her car set.
The rest of the weekend followed suit.

One morning Mark got up with her and she screamed at him for 3 hours straight.
The only comfort to her was laying in the bath tub under running water.
Below is a picture of that ;)

Ethan was super sick the first day at the park too but then perked up to his normal self the next day after some Tylenol.

She really is a sweet smiley little thing!
Smiling through sickness.

Marvel Comic Fun!
You can't tell, but Ethan was stoked to see "Four".
Maybe he was star struck.


We discovered that Disneyland has a "Disney Nurse" that will come to you if you have a need/emergency.

At the Rainforest Cafe, Grace threw up her bottle. 
Not super alarming, except that she slept for near 24 hours without drinking anything and we were worried she was dehydrated (with the lack of total liquid she'd had that trip)… so, when our waiter asked if we wanted to see a nurse, we said yes.

The nurse advised us to go to the children's hospital and have her checked out.
Mark had me call Dr. Grandpa who advised us to stop with the bottles and give pedialyte instead.
My dad didn't see a need to go to the hospital and thought it would be fine to drive home in her condition.

Mark, being afraid to stay any longer, packed up the family and headed straight home… we arrived in our driveway somewhere around 4am. 

AND THAT is why going to Disneyland was a very bad decision!

Here is a picture at the Rainforest Cafe before Grace lost it.
To this day Ethan will say, "Grace frew up in the Rainforest!"

It was while we were at Disneyland that we got the call from our lawyer that Grace got a court date to legalize her adoption.

The earliest Grace could be adopted was after living in our home for 6 months.
We brought her home at 2-weeks-old so 6.5 months was the very soonest she could legally be a Young.

I cannot tell you how much I prayed for her to officially be ours before Christmas.
It didn't really matter… she was already our daughter… but for anyone who has been through the process, you would understand.

At this time I was involved in a women's bible study by Beth Moore called Believing God. The study challenged us to either "just believe in God or believe God".

The 5 points she emphasized were:

*God is who He says He is
*God can do what He says He can do
*I am who God says I am
*I can do all things through Christ
*God's word is active and alive in me

Through this study, my faith was strengthened and I believed that God would give me what I asked for.

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."
Luke 11:9

So I asked, unashamedly and often, that Grace would legally be our daughter before Christmas in the name of Jesus Christ.

God was, after all, the one who put the desire to adopt in our hearts after all!
I was simply asking Him to finish what He started.

Nearing her 6 month birthday, we were tossed a few variables and our circumstances were discouraging.
But I believed GOD > our circumstances.

Once I got the call, nothing by praise left my lips and filled my heart!
Our souls rejoiced!!

God's signature was revealed when we learned this:

There was only one court date in all of December for adoptions in El Dorado County. 
That day was the 3rd Monday in December… the 16th. 
Grace was born the first Monday in June… the 3rd.

Her age? 6.5 months!!!
The exact, earliest date we could have possibly adopted her.
Also, we were the first family.
8am on December 16th.

Divine Christmas gifts are the best!

Now it was actually a pretty non-glamorous experience.
Grace was still sick and… blew out through her pretty little outfit and into her car seat.
She yelled at the TOP of her lungs (echoes of yells bouncing off the courthouse walls) when I changed her out of her… mess… 
and once it was all said and done, we looked at the paperwork and saw that her name was written "Grace Elizabeth Young" and not "Grace Elizabeth Kyleigh Young" as we had decided.

Somewhere in the translation her second middle name was dropped.
So… she's Grace Elizabeth.

At the time, we were so over paperwork and legal stuff that we just said "we'll worry about that later. Let's take our daughter and go!"

Now, 4 months later… we still are not motivated to change it.
If one day she wants to add it, we'll be happy to revisit it and make the proper changes.
But for now… we are just happy she's {officially} ours!

Our friend, Mindy, made us this beautiful cake to celebrate with our small group.
Our friends are the absolute best!!!

Christmas morning!
Mark and Ethan using the wood burning fireplace for the first time!
Also, a picture of Mark with his 2 cuties climbing on him...

Ethan's gift to his daddy.
A homemade card with…. Legos!
JUST what Daddy wanted :D

Ethan got shaving cream in his stocking.
He couldn't have been happier! 
Shaving cream = hours of fun in the shower!

Ethan got me 3 sparkly headbands so that I "could look like Emma."

She's clearly the pre-school fashionista in these parts.

This is what it's like to take Christmas Morning Pictures in Jammies.
A little commentary as well...

We had Christmas Dinner at Mark's parent's.
Ethan made Jesus a birthday cake.

Sprinkle dump. 
I'm sure our savior was delighted ;)

And Ethan did the honors of blowing out the candles.

December was many things. It was action packed with little time to rest on the weekends.

December wasn't pretty - it was messy, actually. 
Messy with sickness, breathing treatments, glue and glitter on the floor.
Messy {and scary} like scissors in your preschooler's hands after watching Tangled!
Messy running around town for last minute adoption stuff.
Messy details… like our daughter's name!… not working out like we planned.

Come to think of it, December was a straight up mess!

But it was all a gift.

Our hearts swelled, raced and skipped a beat… depending on the day, but God's thread of grace ran through it all.

He gifted us with 2 children… sick as they might be… He {legally} gave us our little girl before the traditional day of ripping open gifts wrapped neat and pretty under the tree.

He's gifted us with time. 
Time together to shake glitter onto ornaments and read all about His son… the priceless gift. 
Time to answer Ethan's "Why" questions.
Time to wake up each morning to one smiley face by my bedside, the other smiley face in her crib.
Time to read, dance in the kitchen, and bake together.
Time to make memories and invest in my children's hearts.

He gifts us with free will and choices, too.

Some of our choices were a total fail ---> Disneyland this December being one.

But the everyday choice we make to follow Him. To believe Him over our messes and our circumstances… that leads to the best and most beautiful gifts only He can give.