Worthy is the Lamb

Undoubtedly, Good Friday is sad. It’s a terrible day in history; one where we recount the slain Messiah. The mockery, the abuse; the sheer torture that He endured. I mean, the sun stopped shining. Such a dark day. A day when He declared, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

And while Friday is sad, indeed, it’s always Saturday that impacts me. I wake up the Saturday morning before Easter and think of how Jesus’ friends and disciples must have felt when they woke that morning. He is dead. Buried behind a heavy stone, tucked deep into a tomb, Jesus is gone from them. Sure, He told them He would conquer the grave (Luke 24:6), but that first Easter, they didn’t know like we know. (Luke 24:11)

Oh, but friends, Sunday comes! After the dark, after the doubt, after the pain, Sunday comes! The stone is rolled away! The tomb is empty! The perfect lamb. The greatest sacrifice. He is not there. (Mark 16:6; Luke 24:2-3)

Where ever you are in your dark, your doubt, your pain, Jesus will meet you there. He doesn’t need you to do anything–just receive the grace he poured out for you. A worthy Lamb. The most precious Gift.

“God paid a ransom to save you from the impossible road to heaven which your fathers tried to take, and the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver as you very well know. But he paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him for this purpose long before the world began, but only recently was he brought into public view, in these last days, as a blessing to you.” –1 Peter 1:18-20

He lives! Happy Easter to you and yours!

On Purpose

(I received products prior to making this post; all thoughts and opinions are my own.)

One of my favorite things since starting Purpose Box is discovering new for-purpose companies. Global Purpose is just that. Kaylynn and Jon Jordan started Global Purpose to help companies and artisans operate more sustainably and humanely–what’s not to love about that?

global-purpose-noondayI love that each piece is well-made and unique. I can load it up as the perfect compliment to my Noonday goodies or add the sari scarf to add a pop of color to any ol’ boring outfit! (I’d be on the lookout for it at A&M games this fall–did you see that color?) Most of all, I love that it empowers others and allows them a lifestyle that they would otherwise not be afforded.

global-purpose-bag global-purpose-bracelet

Another perk? It’s available in the HEB Blooms department, which means I don’t have to order or wait for an online shipment to arrive.

This Purpose Box journey has been one I wasn’t looking for or expecting, but it has led me to so many neat people and organizations. Truly, I have changed the way I purchase, gift, and spend money through this calling I have been given.

Find more about Global Purpose on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

When Words Escape

This place has been a safe haven for over six years. Sometimes I share a little, sometimes a lot. I don’t aspire to be the next Dickens or Tolstoy, only to come and be open and honest, sharing my heart in hopes that you (or someone you know) might see a little glimpse of Jesus, or a bit of encouragement, or even just a similarity that brings you comfort. I don’t claim to have all the answers or always know the best way to parent or how to be the best wife or the best friend. I come here for recall, as though writing in a journal.

Looking back and seeing the little snapshots of life is so good for my soul. I see times of sorrow and times of joy. I see the lightning speed growth of this little boy who is turning into a big kid faster than I care to recount–and it makes me smile. I see the first time I shared our heart for adoption, and it makes me realize that even though we are waiting–actively waiting–to complete our family that the dates go back much further than I even knew. That tells me we must be doing something right in the wait–that we must be treasuring our family of three while we have it, for once it’s gone, it’ll never be this way again.

gray-family

When I come to this place with sadness, I am encouraged by your words and responses. When I share the antics of a son filled with joy and laughter, you laugh with me. This place is my place, and although I am not always able to put fingers to keys as I would like, I always feel like I am coming home when I do.

For those who have followed along for some time, you know of our struggles to find a new church since moving back to our hometown. For others, you follow and know that we are praying and hoping for a baby sister for our boy, who will be the best big brother around. For still others, you just want to see a fun craft or recipe on the off chance that I get around to posting one.

This season of life we are in now has me feeling a little off my game. I feel like, more than halfway through the school year, I am still trying to get my feet under me. I transitioned back to full-time in the classroom when the boy started kindergarten, and while it was the best possible time to do it, it’s still a big change. I love my job. It’s still a huge change in our lifestyle. I have less time to make sure my cup is full, to volunteer, to attend Bible studies or ministry gatherings. But I get to minister. I just looks different. When opportunities present themselves, I have to look through a new lens of time constraints and priorities. Our time together as a family is much more limited, so we must make the most of the time we have. We say no to more so that we can be fully committed to the things in which we devote our yes.

So many times, I long to write, to share, to give a little tip or trick here and there, but more times, I’d rather leave my computer in the car than get sucked into the vortex. I know once I get it out, I’ll start here, leave to share to social media, mindlessly scroll. It’s not the best use of my time. I’d rather play Blitzball in the yard, drive the golf cart, or bake cookies. Plus, I almost feel like I’m at a loss for words. While our big adventures are noteworthy, our daily life typically involves much less creativity and hilarity than when I was spending most of my waking moments with a funny little guy who kept me full of anecdotes to share.

While this is still a place I come to share updates on our adoption, it seems as though we are at a standstill for now. We covet your prayers as we continue to wait. Some days it’s no big deal and business as usual. Other days, it’s hard. It hurts. I find myself rehashing missed opportunities and doubting things that God said weren’t meant to be. While I trust Him fully and completely in this–I know He knows our daughter already–I am only human.

All that to say, thank you for sharing this space with me. Thank you for showing up. Thank you for being concerned and checking in on us when things are quiet. Sometimes the words just escape.

Adventure

When we set off on our camping trip this summer, I had the word adventure on my heart. We were off for something new and exciting. It seemed appropriate. You might even remember the art the boy created for us to hang:

Interior Camper Redo RV Remodel on a Budget

Yep, adventure. Right there.

I didn’t give it much further thought, as typically happens before my word comes to me as each year draws to a close. A week or so ago, though, it hit me. That’s the word for 2017. Adventure.

Last week, after attending Revolution’s Christmas services, I posted on social media about my (continued) struggle with leaving.

One of the responses in particular caught my attention, “I admire your time out or as Christ Jesus did went into the wilderness to think and get inspired. A definition of wilderness helps in clarifying our purpose.
WILDERNESS: loneliness; doubt; darkness. Spontaneity of Thought and idea; the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence. MBE Science & Health PG 597″

Adventure had been stirring in my head since before this post, but in that moment, I almost flipped to wilderness, wild, something along those lines. However, I came to realize, the wilderness is part of the adventure.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." --Joshua 1:9
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” –Joshua 1:9

We are still on an adventure into a new(ish) town. We are not out of the wilderness by any means in our church hunt. Our travel tastes have shifted their way into more adventuresome outings. And, of course, the biggest adventure yet: our journey to parenthood through adoption, is still en route!

JolieHeart

Reflect: Gather

2016 was the year of gather. So many times, it was affirmed that this word truly was meant to be my word this year.

"For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them." --Matthew 18:20
“For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.” –Matthew 18:20

I ended the post at the start of this year with, “…let’s gather ’round for some coffee, supper, laughter, and fun!” And, boy, did we. We have gathered more in this home than in any other place I can remember in all of my life. It’s not uncommon for friends or family to just stop by on their way to or from their actual destination–and that’s saying something because we’re out of the way! People recognize our home just from photos and comment on its physical appearance and ask to stop in sometime. God has truly, truly favored this home for His fellowship.

Our ultimate goal of having a permanent gathering place to worship has still not been realized. We sort of took a hiatus from visiting churches after a time, but we are back on the wagon in search of a place to land.

God has continued to gather me and draw me into Him as we wait to bring a baby home. I would be lying if I said I thought we would end 2016 as a family of three. I honestly did not think so at all. With each passing day, each changing circumstance, God is drawing us nearer to Him and preparing us more and more for the baby that will be ours. I don’t know when it will be, or what it will all look like, but I know He is gathering the details for a beautiful story only He could orchestrate.

Gather.

JolieHeart

 

Just for fun, the top posts of 2016:

An A-Maze-Ing Christmas

This time of year is hectic, busy, and magical. The twinkle, the lights, the nostalgia. I love when the Friday after Thanksgiving comes and time to celebrate Jesus’ birth is here. We cut down our tree a day early this year so we could try a new farm; it was a successful trip. (Also, I did not go blond, contrary to what this photo would have you believe.)

We had our annual trip to Sights and Sounds, biscuits and all.

Another Sights & Sounds in the books! Love this time with friends–and FOOD! 🎅🏼🎄

A photo posted by Jolie Gray (@the_graymatters) on

Teddy Elf returned–mostly. He is kind of a slacker now that he is back to work full-time.

Seemingly most important so far, though, is our school treat creations. This year, the boy was really into helping and being part of it. He didn’t want me to just design something and tell him how it was going down before he signed on the dotted line. We worked together to create some cute treats for his friends and his teachers.

Kids Christmas Printable

I ordered mazes from Amazon, but you could grab some from anywhere that has party favors. Now, I know I usually include a printable when I share things like this, but let me tell you a little secret: somehow these are the wrong size. They’re too small. So, if you’d like the file, let me know, and I’ll resize it to send.

I think our teacher gifts are my favorite this year.

Teacher Christmas Gift Printable

I mean, really. Are these not the cutest? (Even if I do say so myself.)

The boy is ready to share them with his friends. He loved playing a bigger part in the gifting this year. He loves giving gifts, just like I do. I’m so grateful for his generous heart.

Where We Are Now: An Update of Sorts

It’s not often that I get through a week without a question or two about our adoption. Where are we in the process? Are we on a list of some sort? Do we have any idea how long we are waiting? Is there anything I can do to help?

Happy Family

Where are we in the process?

Well, we are still very much in a place of waiting. Our homestudy has been signed, sealed, delivered, basically just meaning that we are approved to adopt in the state of Texas. This is pretty much the first step in any adoption, and it’s needed for a private, domestic adoption like we feel called to. So that’s done. Check mark.

Are we on a list of some sort?

No. We are not pursuing an adoption through CPS, a consultant group, or an agency at this point, so no, we are not on any sort of list or registry. Our homestudy completion does not put us on any sort of list, either. We are in no man’s land as far as any formal list, but we still feel like we are walking out the route we are called to walk. (The follow up question here is, how do people find you to know you’re adopting? The answer: you guys. Word of mouth is huge. We have seen it work.)

Do we have any idea how long we are waiting?

Again, no. We have absolutely no idea how long we are waiting. We could find out as soon as a birth mother finds out, or we could find out when a baby is already born in a hospital. Your guess is as good as ours here.

What can I do to help?

We get this one, too, and it’s so heartwarming. You can pray. That is the best way to come alongside us while we’re waiting. You can think of us when you hear of a mother considering placing a child. Should you tell her we are adopting? Yes. This part of our story is up for sharing. It’s how our child will get to us. It’s why I share this kind of stuff for the world to see. You can partner with us financially. Some friends started a fundraiser for us (talk about blown away), and if you feel called to be part of the story, that’s another way to help.

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We have loved living and adventuring as a family of three. We can’t wait for our newest family member to join us–whenever that might be!

“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” –Lamentations 3:25

 

JolieHeart

365 Days

I think it’s actually been 366 because of the leap year, but I’m also pretty sure we didn’t actually fully understand it all that first day, anyway. 365 for good measure.

Last year, on September 22nd, we walked into a pediatrician’s office we had never been to before to rule out anything being wrong with our boy. We all went together, the three of us. He didn’t feel bad, he didn’t look bad (we didn’t think; I can see it all over the photos in my Timehop this year), we just had a bit of concern over his thirst. We knew it could be a phase, but we also knew it could be something.

I don’t remember a whole lot about that appointment, but I do remember that it was a feat in itself to get the doctor to check his blood glucose level. Granted, I had no clue what that actually meant at the time, but I knew that it needed to be done. Mamas (and daddies), trust your gut. If you feel like something could be wrong, find out for sure. Don’t take no for an answer. I don’t think I will ever forget the confusion I felt when they told us his glucose were elevated. What did that mean, exactly? Did that mean he had diabetes? What did that mean? What did that look like? What were the limitations? Could he have a snack? He was starving. I remember being in a complete daze while trying to pack bags for a hospital stay in which we were to “be prepared to stay two or three days.” Stay where? Why? Is he okay? Do we go in hyper-speed?

Those hours of not really knowing were so hard. I mean, I had consulted Dr. Google prior to the unofficial diagnosis that sent us to the emergency room at the children’s hospital, but only enough to find bits and pieces that allowed me to rule out any sort of long-term illnesses. And then it was. What do you do with that? How do you unpack it?

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I still don’t really know the answer to that. I don’t know exactly how to process the fact that it’s not like a round of antibiotics where X days will make you better. I’m not always forward thinking enough to ensure supplies are stocked through the zombie apocalypse. We read and absorb all that we can about best practices and care. We consult with friends, strangers, others who are living it as well.

People tell me all the time that we are brave, or strong, or “the perfect family for this to have happened to,” but again, I don’t always know what to do with that. We’re just doing what we have to do to keep our son healthy and safe.

Our days look a little different than they did 365 days ago, but our future is big and bright. We know that God trusted us with this boy, this story, this life to bring Him glory. We know this boy was born to be a world changer.

It was the Last

It was a Monday. It was this Monday; not by date, but as it falls. The Monday between celebrating his fifth birthday with friends and celebrating it for real. It was a normal day, full of tutoring, preschool, and soccer practice. However, it was different. It was the day it all sunk in. It was the day it hit me that we might not, in fact, be ruling out that something was wrong. It was the day I spent the afternoon on the phone with my mom and some good friends in the peds field; the day I teetered between waiting for his scheduled Wednesday doctor’s appointment or rushing in for something sooner.

We didn’t know it that day, but that Monday was the last of that chapter of our lives. It was the last of a childhood where our son could eat or run without worry. The last of eating foods without immediately knowing their carb count. The last of dropping him off with friends carefree. It was the last of the days where a car nap was just a car nap. It was the last of so many things.

But it was also the last of a time where we didn’t know how strong our son was. A time where we didn’t know just exactly how kind and compassionate he was. The last of any question about the support system we have and how much they will rally around us. The last of any misunderstanding about the lengths you will go as a parent to keep your child safe and healthy.

Mom and Boy

As we draw closer to our one year mark, the words a dear friend’s mom shared with us in the hospital ring in my ears, “It will alter your life, but it won’t end your life.” I’m grateful every day for those words. I’m grateful on the days when it’s hard and we don’t understand what his blood sugar is doing, and the days when it’s textbook and “easy.” I thank God every day for this sweet boy of ours. I’m so grateful he’s mine.

JolieHeart