Monday, December 31, 2007

Plans & Resolutions

I thought it might be fitting that this be my final post of 2007. It has been on my heart and mind all week and I have spent a lot of time thinking about exactly what I wanted to say so I hope it will all comes out right.

In 2007, I have experienced more events in one year than I probably have in the 9 years prior put together.

It all started in January when Jonathan's father went in for surgery. As he was being wheeled into recovery, his heart stopped for several minutes and although they were able to revive him, we spent the next 6 weeks at St. Thomas hospital. He is alive and doing so amazingly well today. We didn't plan for that to happen, but it did and although it was so scary and hard on the entire family, it changed me. For the first time in my adult life, I truly GOT IT that God was in control. I still remember sitting in the bathroom floor near the J-POD (intensive care) and that song "God is in control" was playing over and over in my mind. It was my prayer and I was grasping to it, because I didn't know if I could face watching my husband lose his father, watching my mother-in-law lose her soul-mate, watching my children lose their Papa Sam and me lose my King (that's what I call Papa Sam). God was in control and he allowed Sam to live.

In March, we went to Disney with some of Jonathan and I's best friends...Kim and Chris Thomas for her 30th birthday. It was there that I felt such a reconnect with my husband...getting to watch him be childlike at Disney was amazing (he had never been before) and what was even better was being able to experience it with some amazing friends that I know God put us with. We didn't plan at the beginning of the year to get to go on an amazing trip with them, but God knew we would go and he knew that it would be Jonathan and I's last trip as a couple before we started on yet another journey: the adoption of Mary Elizabeth.

We started that journey the day after we arrived home from Disney. You've read that journey here. We didn't plan to learn everything that we have, but God knew we would and that is why he allowed us to experience it. He knew that M.E. would need a home at just the right time and he put it on our hearts at just the right time so that we could be her family.

In July, wow, where do I start in July....God blessed us with Maggie! I didn't plan on loving my niece as much as I do, but wow, I can't wait for even more nieces and nephews (if they are this great...can you imagine how awesome grandkids are going to be one day!) God also spared Jonathan's life when some crazy woman ran him off the road and totaled the Yukon XL. He also led us to buy the house we are in. We didn't plan to do any of those things when we started 2007, but God knew we would and he prepared our hearts, minds, finances, etc. to be prepared for those changes that he knew would be coming.

On July 30th, my life as I know it changed in probably the most impactful night of my life. The night Josh died and God gave him back. I'm not sure I can put into words what it was like to see him there and to feel so incredibly helpless. What I can tell you is that while I was on the phone with 911, I remember saying to my sister, "Ali, God is in control" and the operator said, "Yes, HE is" To see a 25 year old man that is strong, healthy, etc. lay there with no life left in him is such a humbling experience and although I wish none of you to ever witness it, I hope my small description will allow you to "see" it enough to know how fragile our life truly is. Josh didn't plan for his heart to stop on July 30th, but God knew it would and he prepared each of us in his own way for that moment. He allowed Jonathan and I to be living there so that Alison wouldn't be alone, he allowed Maggie to be born so that Alison would be up to nurse her; therefore, noticing that Josh was having a seizure, I could go on and on. My point is...God was and is in control.

On October 13th, as we buckled Mary Elizabeth into her car seat and started the drive home from Jackson, TN I was again reminded that I didn't plan on having another child in 2007. Oh how I would have laughed out loud at the suggestion at the beginning of the year! And yet, the precious gift he gave us that day was the best unplanned gift I had ever been given!

I could go on with so many more examples....so many God things (many of which I have posted about here), losing friends to cancer, changing jobs, new friendships formed, etc. but I hope you get the point that I am typing all this because this is the time of year where we make resolutions. We lay out all these things we hope will happen. We will loose weight, start exercising, get organized, return phone calls faster (that's a jab at myself), go to church, etc. but how often do you really follow through? At the end of each year, as you start to pack up your tree, are you left with a feeling that it just flew by again and it's time to start another list that you probably won't keep up with 2 months later?

For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that this year, I allowed God to be in control in my life. It wasn't always easy and I screwed up a ton. BUT I never stopped trusting in him...I really didn't. Even as we drove to the hospital and I just knew Josh might be dead, I had peace that passed any understanding because I knew that my HEAVENLY FATHER was in control. Was I scared? YES! But did I trust in him? YES!

So this year, instead of making your lists of resolutions, how about planning on trusting God. Really digging in and letting go of your own devices and trusting your Daddy instead. If you don't know him in a real and personal way, I would love to sit down with you and share with you how to do that. It has changed my life and all he wants of us is to tell others about the change it has made in our lives.

Sorry this took so long, but I just felt I needed to say it. Before I leave you, I wanted to share this piece of scripture with you from the Old Testament. As I said in the beginning, I've been praying about this for a few days. There is a lady in our adoption group that had been waiting for over 2 years to adopt and got word a few days ago that they had been picked to parent a little boy. Her faithfulness has always impressed me because I don't know if I would be so steadfast if I had been waiting for over 2 years. Anyway, this was the verse she put in her post to let us know she was now a mommy...how funny that God had already laid this on my heart.

But these things I plan won't happen right away, slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!
HABAKKUK 2:3

Happy New Year to all of you! Brea

Sunday, December 30, 2007

I just gotta know...

have any of you that read this ever kept a new years resolution? If so, what was it! God is stirring my heart to write an entry tomorrow about resolutions and plans so I wanted to put this out there to see if anyone has actually ever met that new year's goal?

MRA Update...only Brea

Ok, trust me, this is going to be good. I just got back from my MRA at 6pm on a Sunday night. That alone was weird to me. The last MRI I had on December 7th was at the hospital but my neuro doctor had told me that they also do MRI's in the office on certain days so it didn't surprise me that this MRA was at his office. What did surprise was the day and time.

My mom came over to watch the kids and Jonathan and I showed up a few minutes before 6pm. I was just happy to see lights on at the office, as I was certain that they had been mistaken when they had called with the appointment time (keeping in mind, that I was knocked out so they had left the appt. time/day with Jonathan-I love you hun, but sometimes, well you know). I walked in, signed in like normal and thought, well, I guess this is 2007...I guess this is just what they do now-a-days.

The lady proceeds to call me back and does the normal small talk as we walk to the back. We keep walking and walking until she opens the rear door marked EXIT. We are now standing in the parking lot behind the office. I stop and look at her like "what are we doing lady?" and she says, "oh, the MRA is in here" and points to the tractor trailer parked in the back of this parking lot.

You have got to be kidding me.

Only Brea would have an MRA on a Sunday night at 6pm in a tractor trailer parked behind the doctor's office. Am I the only one that finds this weird?

It was fast and easy though so hopefully I will know the results soon and all will be well.

Christmas Eve



Saturday, December 29, 2007

Let's back up... DEMEROL sucks

Yes, it's Saturday and I am still loopy. I talked to my doctor's office today and they think it could just be the lingering effects of the shot from WEDNESDAY. I swear I can't walk a straight line and my thoughts seem scattered and jumbled. Jonathan and I have a Christmas party tonight and if I hadn't already committed to bringing food I would totally cancel because I feel so yuck (I love you Lisa, but I do feel yuck)

I am drinking water like a mad woman trying to push the meds out of my system and trying not to think about what if it's not the meds. Oh well....

Demerol is definitely going on the list of "I'm never taking it again" meds.

If I haven't called you back yet, I promise I will...

Friday, December 28, 2007

Migraines Suck

I have so much to update on the blog...

Christmas was awesome! We had a very low key Christmas and I wouldn't change a thing. I promise to get pics posted soon.

Until Wednesday 12/26, I had a migraine for 6 days straight. FINALLY got in touch with my neurologist who wanted me to get knocked out ASAP so that I did at 1pm-ish on the 26th. I really woke up this morning although I still don't feel 100% with it. I am having an MRA Sunday at 6pm (yes, I know, weird time) so please say a prayer if you get a chance. I had an MRI several weeks ago that showed a decreased level of blood flow in some parts of my brain so this MRA will show them if there is a blockage and the condition of the actual arteries. There's a good chance that it will show everything is normal and that the last MRI was a fluke. There is also a chance that I have some blockage that could be causing these horrible migraines. At any rate, we probably won't know much until Wednesday as they are closed Monday and Tuesday for the holiday. The MRA is really no big deal and the good news is that the migraine is GONE for now! The bad thing is that I hate that I don't remember the last two days of my life (and that I missed some awesome shopping!)

I'll keep you posted and get this blog updated soon!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

MAGS

My niece, Maggie, is in a photo contest. If you get a chance, go HERE and vote for #9!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

VOTE FOR DENVER

It's official...Denver and the Mile High Orchestra have made the FINAL 3 on THE NEXT GREAT AMERICAN BAND on FOX.

Check it out tomorrow night and VOTE! Amy, be safe in your travels to LA and we are SO freakin excited for you guys!

$1,000

If someone came up to you and gave it to you right now, what would you do with it?

the 13th

Dates are important to me...

Sounds silly, but they are.

Today, December 13th, Mary Elizabeth has been home with us exactly 2 months. It seems like she has been with us forever. We went for her 4 month check-up last week and she was 7 lbs 6 ozs and 18.75 inches!

Eleven years ago today, Jonathan proposed to me. I had just had a horrible day at work and was driving home with my sister to help put up the Christmas tree at my parents house. On the way home, we saw a shooting star and I told my sister that hopefully that meant my night was going to be better than the day. I had no idea Jonathan was at my parent's house at that moment asking for my dad's permission. Now, I can't believe it has been 11 years! I love you honey!

I needed this...

It takes a lot of strength to put your raw emotions on a blog for the world to see and to judge you. It takes even more strength to admit when you are wrong and then to put that out there on the blog for the world to see and to judge you. Today I have felt that I was wrong from typing what I did on the blog last night. Was it wrong? I don't know. But did it feel wrong for me today? Yes. Because I have been given so much and yet I complain over something so little. Forgive me Lord, I failed you last night.

Many of you will remember our friends Tom and Stephanie McMinn. Stephanie passed away in September after a LONG and HARD fight with breast cancer. Just a few short weeks later, Tom's brother was killed in a car wreck. My heart is burdened for him often. I can't explain it really. I think about Molly, their little girl. What it will be like for her to grow up without a great mom, and boy was she great. I think about Tom and how lonely he must be, especially this time of year.

Today, out of habit, I check Stephanie's old blog site and I found this. I just had to share it with you.

FROM TOM:

Sunday December 2, 2007

I was inspired to write something today. This came to me while sitting in the morning service at South Main. I sat behind a couple...my age. The wife had her arm around her husband and was stroking his hair. The reality of sitting without a spouse hits me. My thoughts hit memory lane. I start tearing up. After I process the thoughts, another thought is triggered. It's not about me. I fold my bulletin and begin writing on the back...

IT'S NOT ABOUT ME
Regardless of how well I handle or don't handle the loss of my lover and precious one...
IT'S NOT ABOUT ME
Regardless of how I handle the loss of my brother and spiritual life encourager...
IT'S NOT ABOUT ME
Regardless of the many tears I cry because of the pain I feel over these losses and the disruption to my life...
IT'S NOT ABOUT ME
Regardless of how crazy my life becomes financially or otherwise...
IT'S NOT ABOUT ME
Regardless of the struggle I'm facing to raise a daughter in a fallen world that offers nothing but despair...
IT'S NOT ABOUT ME
Regardless of my spiritual inadequacies, physical limitations, personality flaws...I do have a few...
IT'S NOT ABOUT ME

IT'S SIMPLY NOT ABOUT THOMAS CARL MCMINN.
I know God has a plan. And, I know this about His plan. His plan was never for me to suffer. It was never His plan for death to be a part of life. It was never His plan for any of us to want for anything. So...here is what it is about...

IT IS ABOUT HIS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
IT IS ABOUT CHANGE...TRANSFORMATION...RENEWAL.
IT IS ABOUT THE LIFE, DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF GOD'S ONLY BEGOTTEN SON.
IT IS ABOUT A HOLY GOD THAT WANTS A DIVINE RELATIONSHIP REVOLUTION LIKE OUR PLANET HAS NEVER SEEN.

Mmmm...God you know me....please don't let me get in the way...I want to be able to want what you want. Continue to work your will out in my life.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Harsh, but reality?

Part of me was hoping I wouldn't have to put this out there, but I have said all along that our adoption process was a learning process. Not only just for us, but for all of our friends and family as well.

A few weeks ago, I realized that some of my dear friends/family have yet to come and see Mary Elizabeth. Honestly, we don't get out that much and usually when people have a baby, people flock. So the question is....is race the issue?

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Monday Night Funny

click on the picture to make it bigger if you can't see it!

God is SO Good

I just had to post this because although it will not mean much to anyone who reads this, it means a lot to me and I plan to print this blog at the end of the year and this is a major part of it.

When I started the adoption journey, I never dreamed I would meet such incredible women in the process. Alison Bynum is one of my great friends that I have met and instantly bonded with and I am so glad that we get to raise our daughters together.

I met another girl in the adoption process, Kelly, and we actually got to meet in real life at the Bethany New Friends dinner November 13th. She and I have talked on the phone quite a bit through both of our waiting processes and she just got the call that she is going to be a mommy to a baby boy! He was born November 28th (my boys' birthday!) and I am just so excited that we all get to raise our children together!

Lord, you are so good. You know the sincere desires of our hearts and you bless us so much when we follow your will. THANK YOU for yet another precious gift! You are SO good!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mary Elizabeth has a new friend!

For those of you that have followed my blog, you'll remember Jonathan and I had an amazing trip to Disney with our dear friends Kim and Chris in March for Kim's 30th Birthday. They brought home the best souvenir and he was born yesterday at 2:45pm.

Jackson Hall Thomas
7 lbs, 20 inches


Does Kim not look amazing? Way to go hot momma! She also had the best labor EVER!

How sweet is McKinley as a big sister?



I had to include this picture! This is Harper, Chris' sister's little girl and I just think she is so adorable!


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A New Pic of M.E.

Sorry I have been bad about posting new pics of Miss Mary Elizabeth. Hopefully it was worth the wait!

Isaac and Luke are 6

Last Wednesday on 11/28 at 9:41 pm Isaac turned 6 and at 9:51 pm Luke turned 6. On Friday, we had a little party at school. I can't believe my boys are 6!!

This is Isaac with his cupcake cake (notice how he is already quite the ladies man at school!)


This is Luke with his cupcake cake



Happy Birthday Boys...you have brought such joy to my life! I love you!

Sofa Express and More

Well,well,well....

Memo: Sofa Express and More to begin closing stores

Clint Engel -- Furniture Today, 12/3/2007 1:28:00 PM

Store managers receive letter today

GROVEPORT, Ohio. — Sofa Express and More is telling its employees that it will begin closing stores Tuesday, according to a store manager who asked not to be identified.

The Top 100 company sent a letter to store managers today saying it knows the past few weeks have been stressful and asked that “you hold on for one more day.”

Attached was a notification letter to employees stating that “despite attempts to secure our financial future, Sofa Express has determined that it must close your facility due to its financial situation, resulting in the termination of your employment.”

The letter said that closings would begin Dec. 4, but that the date employees would lose their jobs hasn’t been determined.

The manager who confirmed the information believed that similar letters went to all Sofa Express and More managers. At this store, employment already has been cut by more than half, the manager said.

Sofa Express is owned by Klaussner, which has referred question to Sofa Express President and CEO Woolard Harris. Harris has not returned calls seeking comment.

The manager said the letters today have been the only substantial communication stores have received from Sofa Express corporate since Nov. 8, when they were told they could no longer do custom orders.

The company currently has 44 stores, primarily in Ohio, Tennessee, Florida and the Carolinas.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Merry Christmas!

http://www.elfyourself.com/?id=1148514647

BAD customer service....what's your story?

Yeah, I just need to vent. That's the REAL reason for this post, but I am also hoping that someone can trump this story so it will make me feel a wee bit better about my situation. So, have you ever had customer service SO BAD that you really wonder where the candid camera is hiding out? We all get the rude person that throws your fast food at you through the window, but this is a whole new ballgame. I'm talking, SPEECHLESS, bad customer service? Well, I want to hear all about it. AND I'm going to tell you about my situation simply because I want none of you (whether I know you or not) to EVER have to endure the madness I have had to endure since August 31, 2007 with this company.

SOFA EXPRESS AND MORE

Yes, Genevieve from Trading Spaces, you are really cute on those commercials, and I'll give you credit, I love 99% of everything you have in your cute little salesroom. I even love the cute little lady that waited on us and was oh so helpful in helping us pick out our $5,000 in furniture that we paid CASH for. That's where the niceness stops. On August 31, 2007, I ordered the last of my $5,000 of furniture that I paid cash for (I'm not bitter) which was a $1,400 dining room table with TWO leaves and 6 chairs. At that point, I had not gotten my first order of furniture in otherwise this order would have never taken place. But, alas, it did.

A few weeks later I get a phone call while I am at the consignment sale asking me why I am not home since the delivery men are in my driveway with my dining room table, 2 leaves and 6 chairs. Why was I not there? Well, b/c you never called to tell me anyone was coming. Sorry, I forgot to check my crystal ball last night before going to bed. I had to get my mother-in-law to hurry to the house to let them in with the furniture. When I got home that night, I noticed that I only had 1 leaf (or is that leave?) and two of the chairs had scratches on them. So I called my cute little sales lady and told her and she said, "no problem, doll, I'll take care of it" and she did. They politely called me a couple of weeks later to tell me that they couldn't just bring me a new leaf/leave b/c the leaves are custom made to match each table so they would have to bring me a new table with 2 leaves. Ok, fine. So they are supposed to come between 12-4. At 7pm they show up (in the middle of a dinner party we are having) where the not so nice delivery man tells me that "that table never came with no two leaves" and turn arounds and leaves. I won't bore you with more details, but needless to say, 2 1/2 weeks ago was their 5th time to my house to replace the table in which they didn't even come but tried to say they did.

I finally called and told them just to come get the table, I wanted my money back. The manager, Zach at Bowling Green, since Rivergate doesn't have one tells me that they will get a check right out to me since they keep messing up. I had to ask him, "what about the table?" and he said, "oh someone will call to come get that." Then, I get the call the other day that they will be here to pick THEIR table up on December 7? Do I have a check? NO.

So, now...I am in a dilemma...do I let them have a table and wait weeks to get a refund check from corporate meanwhile spending the holidays with no dining room table? Do I keep the table and be ticked that I paid $1400 for something that is damaged and they still haven't made right?

MY POINT: NEVER BUY ANYTHING FROM SOFA EXPRESS AND MORE!!! Can't wait to hear your stories!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Good Cause (and a chance for a fun vacation too!)

This couple is adopting through the same agency we used and they are trying to raise the last remaining bit to bring their baby home. I thought I would post it here to help them out. Who couldn't use a good three night stay in Gatlinburg?!?!

From Jennifer Jones:
We are adopting a baby!!! WIN A 3 NIGHT STAY IN GATLINBURG, TN!! Purchase a $5 ticket for your chance to win a 3 night stay in a 1 bedroom cabin in Gatlinburg, TN for March 7,8 & 9, 2008. My husband and I manage a cabin rental company here in Gatlinburg and one of our cabin owners donated these three nights to us to help us with our adoption fund. See cabin here: http://www.americascabins.com/twilight/twilight.html

To purchase tickets or keep up with their progress, check out their website at www.JonesAdoption.net

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Reality Check

Today was an interesting day and I found that I couldn't wait to blog about it and yet, I almost didn't want to blog about it because I didn't want it to come across the wrong way. I had Mags and Mary Elizabeth today and I went to meet a friend at Sears to pick up some stuff. As I was coming back home, I was hungry and realizing that would be the one time I would get a few minutes to eat in peace, I decided it was time for some Taco Bell. As I turned out of the mall, I noticed a homeless man sitting on the side of the road. He was holding a sign that said something like "Anything you can give will help, even prayers." It hit me. REALLY hit me and I knew immediately what I had to do. HAD TO DO IT. I went to the Bell and got my lunch and I also ordered lunch for this man. I was scared to death as I pulled back into the mall entrance and pulled in and parked behind him. As I did, he got up and started to walk away like he was afraid I was a cop or something. I got out and said "SIR!" He looked back at me as he was quickly walking away and I said, "but I got you lunch!" He walked over to me and all I could think to say was "I hope you like Tacos." He said, "oh yes, I do." I told him that I got him mild and hot sauce, handed him his drink and told him to stay warm. As I handed him the drink, I realized he only had one arm. He just stood there and stared at me like he couldn't believe I had just done that. Trust me buddy, I couldn't believe I had done it either. BUT I HAD TO. I got in the car and lost it...cried the whole way home. Why? I'm not really sure. Not really sure why I am crying as I type this. I didn't do it because I wanted a feel good moment. I didn't post this because I wanted you to think I am a good person. I did it because we are supposed to, because it literally took nothing to do it, and I got way more out of it than what he got from me. He got some warm lunch....I got humbled. I got Jesus in a real way today. Next time you get the feeling that you just HAVE TO DO SOMETHING (even if it's uncomfortable) DO IT!!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

I "officially" felt old today

Yes, it was one of "those" days.

A few weeks ago, J and I decided it was time to up our life insurance. On 11/16, a nurse came to the house to draw blood and get a urine sample for my life insurance screening. Side note: I find it hilarious that the nurse smelled like a 6 pack of beer and Camel lights and she was here to check to make sure I was healthy. Anyway, in the mail today was my lab results. Oh joy!

As I was looking through everything, I was silently doing the "good job Brea" and "yeah, you still got it" b/c all my numbers were great. Then, I got to Cholesterol. Normal is 140-199. Mine was 209 and this was after fasting for 13 hours!!! Not only that, but my LDL (THE BAD CHOLESTEROL) was 129 and normal is 0-129. Yes, I am getting old. My cholesterol is high. What the crap!?!?! Not only that, but my cover letter tells me that because of my high cholesterol, I am putting myself at an increased risk of heart disease. Gee, thanks.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Mags

This is my niece Maggie Holland Harris. I call her Mags. Mags, Mary Elizabeth and I hang out every Tuesday. I love this little girl more than she will ever know. I love that her mommy and daddy created such a precious little gift that I get to love on. Isn't she adorable?

It's 3:46am on Black Friday....

Mama's going shopping, and Daddy...well....

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

This is what I am thankful for....notice how Mary Elizabeth looks like she is dancing!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

On a lighter note...

Thanks to Jenn C. for sending this to me...keep watching, this one is great. Hey, Ali B...ever seen this before at a wedding?

http://youtube.com/watch?v=aeoi16lScf4

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Power Of A Blog

5 years ago no one had ever heard of the word "blog" (or at least I hadn't)

Now, you are essentially an oddball if you don't have one (even if you hardly ever post to it) Yes, it is a great place to share family news, pics from a recent vacation, or a new pet...but, it can be so much more than that. It can be a place where people see Jesus in you through your writing.

I found yet another example of that today. Patti Keitzman is a consignor at my consignment sale. She actually was at the first one I did 3 years ago where I was practically begging people to bring their stuff (my how times have changed!). Her husband, Brad, taught with my sister Alison so she found out about the sale through her. My sister has said multiple times through through the years how much she admired Brad Keitzman as a teacher. On October 31, he was officially diagnosed with cancer and he died today. You know, I won't pretend that they were dear, close friends or that I even knew them that well. I also won't pretend to know how they feel. What I do know is that this family needs us to pray for them....they have two young daughters. Although their blog doesn't have too much detail, I just felt Jesus while reading it. Check it out if you get a chance...www.keitzman.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mary Elizabeth's Due Date

Yesterday (11/13) was Mary Elizabeth's due date (at best we can tell) She is now 6 lbs exactly and 18 3/4" long. Yesterday had also been one month since we brought her home. I love her so much. SO MUCH. I love the way she gets big eyes when the room is dark, the way she smells, the way her hair curls up like she has a new perm after a bath, the way she "roots" around on my chest when she is hungry and ends up leaving wet marks all over my shirt, the way she opens her eyes in little slits to see who is there before she actually opens them all the way up, the way she screams bloody murder when she is getting a bath but can turn off the waterworks immediately when she hits the warm, fuzzy towel. I love to see my husband holding her. I love seeing my other daughter holding her. I love to see Isaac and Luke kiss the top of her head. I love to see her sucking her thumb (which is quite hysterical), how she has just noticed that she has fingers on her hands and she keeps smacking herself in the face as she tries to bring them towards her, how she loves to snuggle on my chest. I am a blessed woman indeed.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

People DO read my blog

You know, sometimes I get on here and type my heart out and I trick myself into thinking that no one actually "really" reads these posts. Boy was I wrong!

THANKS so much for the sweet emails I have gotten since my blog post on Sunday. I promise I'm not depressed and mom, I promise I will ask you for money if we really need it. I'm being silly, but seriously, I put that out there so that people would see that there are many different facets to the adoption process. It's hard when your heart tells you to do one thing but sometimes your checkbook holds you back.

I do FEEL better...sometimes just putting your feelings out there is enough and for me, that was certainly true. Just venting on the blog made me feel so much better and after spending some time in prayer, I realized that this is yet another way that the process of adopting our daughter has truly changed me (and in a good way). So what if I don't have a new pair of jeans in the next few months or if I don't eat out as much, I have a wonderful new daughter that the Lord has blessed us with and for that, I will always be greatful!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Yucky Post

I am in a yucky mood. I can admit it. I probably should have never walked to the computer to type this, but you know what...it's my blog and I'll blog if I want to.

Everyone keeps asking how are we doing? We are really doing great. Mary Elizabeth is such a blessing to us and if I didn't know it, I love her like I birthed her myself. I find myself thinking about her birthmother. How she is doing. What it feels like for her as she looks at her other three girls and realizes that one more is missing. If she feels guilty. If she's a monster. If she's a lot like me.

The kids are doing great with her. Anna loves her so much and seeing her with Mary Elizabeth is yet another example that we were totally following in God's will.

Sometimes I find that I want to pinch myself because it seems like yesterday we started this process and we already have our daughter home with us. It makes me sad for all the people who wish to adopt that have waited for years. Other times it feels like the journey to M.E. was the longest road I've ever walked. It changed me. It made me see the world in a whole new light. It made me want to be different and by my being different, to help change the world.

The hardest part of the journey beside the wait? The finances. I haven't talked about that much in this journey but it is a fact of the process. And it sucks. I hate feeling like we are broke. I knew that it would take a lot of money, but it makes me mad that we don't qualify for grants simply because we make too much money. They don't look at the years it took us to pay crap off (granted, that was our own mistakes, but hey...it's my blog...) and the fact that we aren't rolling in it even though we may have a decent income. They don't look at the fact that we were currently supporting 3 children and funding college funds and paying health insurance. I never felt comfortable asking for money to help fund this journey simply because I knew there were others who needed it worse than us, but I can't lie and say that it doesn't hurt to know that we probably won't be able to open our home more in the future simply because it costs so freaking much to do this. That makes me sad.

SO that's the mood I'm in today....I need to give it to God and move on.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

If I Only Had A Brain...

Yes, my gang was all decked out as the Wizard of Oz last night. The only one missing: the scarecrow! I told the kids I could stand in for him since I really seem to have no brain these days. Between the migraine I've been struggling to kick the last few days to the lack of sleep, I seem to be doing the craziest things (like putting the apple juice in the cabinet beside the glasses)


This scarecrow thinks her children were adorable. More updates once I kick the migraine:


Monday, October 29, 2007

Family Pictures

We had family pictures made on Saturday by our wonderful friend and fellow adoptive mom, Alison Bynum. For those of you that have followed this blog from the beginning, you'll remember Alison as Norah's mom! I have to say that I just LOVE all the pics and I am having a hard time deciding on which ones are my faves! Check them out at www.alisonbynum.com and let me know what you think! THANKS Alison for putting up with the wild Freeman crew and ME says she can't wait to play with Norah!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mary Elizabeth 10/21

THANKS to Uncle Josh for taking these amazing pics...


This made me laugh out loud

Thanks to Chris S. for sending it to me:

So, they had a little going away party for the gal in their office and they called Walmart to order the cake. This is what they wanted on the cake:
"Best Wishes Suzanne" and underneath that write "We will miss you".

This is what they got:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pray for Tom McMinn

I realize that many of you don't know this man, but please take a moment and pray for him as you read this.

Tom's wife, Stephanie, passed away on September 1st after a LONG fight with breast cancer. She is so greatly missed by everyone that knew her, but mostly by her husband Tom and daughter Molly. I won't even to pretend to understand what the last 7 weeks have been like for them without Stephanie.

Today we found out that Tom's oldest brother was killed in a car accident yesterday in NC where they live. He is also Tom's pastor. I know the whole church and family is hurting so much and yet, I found it refreshing to read Tom's words on his blog tonight.

"My aim in life is not to live long enough to see all of my loved ones near and dear to me die. But at this rate, I feel like I'm being picked on. Well, take two seconds to pity me if necessary, I know that my options are just as they were when Stephanie passed seven weeks and one day ago. I will remain resolved in my faith and pray God will use me."

Sweet Tom, you are already being used so much. Your faith is amazing and should be an example to all of us who think we have it tough. Our prayers are with you tonight.

Perfectly stated

I have been horrible the last few weeks about checking email so I spent a few minutes this morning trying to get a few read. In my inbox, I found this email from a consignor and friend who adopted a little girl from China. Even though our situation was a little different, the feelings are the same. I couldn't wait to share it with you.

P.S. I will try to get this sucker updated tonight :)

Today is Emma Grace's birthday. Such a special day for me. It was 3 years ago on October 17 that we announced to our church family that we had decided to adopt from China. At that time, we had no information on her. Basically, all we knew was that we would be getting a daughter from China within the next year. We asked our church family to keep our journey in their prayers and to also keep Emma Grace in their prayers. We wanted her to be safe, healthy, be loved and very well taken care of by her caretakers.

Imagine our joy when we got our referral and saw her birth date...October 18!! One day after we announced it to the church. She had prayers going up for her before she was even born....actually with the time difference...when we announced it...it was actually 10:00 am on October 18 in China. Our paperwork shows that she was born around 10:30. Isn't is amazing how God works?? I love it!!

Anyway, fast forward 3 years and we have the most beautiful, loving, caring, intelligent child (of course...I am not biased).

She has filled our lives with so much joy, happiness and laughter. The love that she has brought to our home is overwhelming. I am amazed every day at the wonderful gift that God has granted to Jason and I.

Along with the joy that we have on this day...I can't help but have a little bit of sadness. I have so many thoughts of her birthmother today. Oh, what I would give to meet her, know her, hug her and thank her for the wonderful sacrifice she made. I know that somewhere in Jiangxi, China is a wonderful loving woman who is hurting today. I imagine she wonders about her little girl...where she is, how she is doing, what she looks like. I know she wonders these things b/c it wasn't so long ago that I would stand on my back porch at night, looking at the moon and wondering the same things. Knowing that somewhere on the other side of the world was a baby that I had not yet seen or held, but that I already loved so much with every fiber of my being.

Today, I hug my child and I lavish so much love and attention on her, but tonight when I lay down to rest from the activity of the day, I will think of her Mu-Qing (moo-ching)(birthmother). I will shed tears for her and pray for her, as I do daily. I pray that God will give her peace about her decision and that somehow she knows that Emma Grace is taken care of and very much loved and adored. I give thanks also to God for her....because without her, I would not be a mother to God's wonderful gift....my daughter, Emma Grace.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cousins and Friends

How lucky are these girls to have each other! I had always hoped that my sister Alison and I would have children that were close in age. We never dreamed the girls would be 2 weeks apart! Maggie was born July 24 and Mary Elizabeth on August 7. Check out the size difference!


P.S. The beautiful quilt they are laying on was made by Mary Elizabeth's interim family. THANKS to Betty and her amazing family!


Sunday

Mary Elizabeth did really well sleeping on Saturday night especially considering there were no beeps from machines like in the NICU and she was in a new place. She eats every four hours so she typically eats around midnight and again at 4 am. We have her in a travel crib in our room for a little while at least. When we left the NICU on Saturday night she weighed 4 lbs. 8 ozs. It's amazing that she came into this world on August 7th only weighing 1 lb. 4.3 ozs and has already gained so much weight but trust me when I say...she is still SO TINY!

Anyway, the kids and I stayed home while Jonathan went to church. My parents were driving home from Florida and they were the first to arrive. They were so excited and I loved when I told them we were coming home on Saturday, my mom burst into tears in a department store in Florida and my dad said, "Now that I KNOW she is coming home, I can get excited and NOW I AM EXCITED!" Keep in mind that they drove home after being in Florida for 2 days!

When they walked in the door and saw her, they couldn't believe how tiny she was. They both couldn't wait to hold her.

Soon after mom and dad got here, Angie, Robert and Alexandra arrived to see her. Alexandra was fascinated and Angie was so excited to see her, especially in her new preemie outfit she had gotten her. THANKS ANG!

Because she was so premature, the doctors only want Mary Elizabeth being held for short periods of time right after she eats. They want her to spend most of her time sleeping so that she will continue to grow and not get over stimulated. Everyone left and we spent some time just being quiet.


Then, Aunt Janie and Uncle Dickie (my dad's brother) called and wanted to come by. We hadn't told hardly anyone that we were home so we just figured that my mom and dad had called them. When they came in, they were both shocked to see Mary Elizabeth! They had no idea she was home...they were just coming by to drop off a gift. Their reaction was priceless. Aunt Janie just kept saying "Oh! Oh!" with a shocked look on her face. She couldn't wait to hold her and again, they were shocked at how tiny she is. Then Uncle Dickie held her and did the most amazing thing...he started crying. Janie said she had never seen him react that way, but he said he was just so happy for her and so excited that she would be raised in a Christian home. Of course, it made me cry! It was just so sweet.

We were so anxious to see Alison, Josh and Maggie who were traveling home from Indiana. They arrived soon after Dickie and Janie arrived and again, it was awesome for them to meet Mary Elizabeth.






The Welcome Wagon

We got home around 8pm on Friday night and just a few minutes after we arrived, Grandmother and Papa Sam arrived with Isaac and Luke. This was the first time any of them had seen Mary Elizabeth in person. I love this pic of Isaac when he walked in the front door and saw her for the first time:

Grandmother, Isaac and Luke really enjoyed watching me feeding her a bottle and they loved her "drama queen" burps.

Papa Sam doesn't hold little babies....he's more comfortable with babies that are old enough to walk! Grandmother, on the other hand, couldn't wait to get her hands on little sprout. Papa Sam was pooped so they headed out. Mary Elizabeth had not had a real bath since Tuesday and was pretty stinky (trust me, her formula STINKS!) so it was time for her first bath at home. Let me preface this picture by saying that yes, it did take ALL OF US to get her bathed and yes, Anna was taking these pics because it took ALL OF US to get her bathed. 4 pound babies that are soaped up are hard to hold so I am sure we looked like a bunch of crazies trying to get her cleaned up.

She was SO sleepy after her bath...I just love these sleepy eyes!

Our first real shot of all of our children together!

Saturday...Coming Home

We spent Friday night working around the house as we knew that Jonathan, Anna and I would be heading back to Jackson on Saturday morning. Since we still didn't have test results, we assumed it would be Monday before we would be coming home so we wanted to get the house picked up. I got the BEST night's sleep....seriously, I slept so freaking good. Little did I know it would be my last great nights sleep for a while (but I wouldn't change that for anything!)

Saturday morning we got up, met Grandmother (J's mom) to hand off the boys and headed towards Jackson. We were hoping to be there in time for the lunch time feeding. About an hour outside Jackson my cell phone rang and I about died when it was Ashley calling from the NICU. Evidently the doctor had called to the lab directly and found out that all of Mary Elizabeth's tests were normal and we could go home THAT DAY! We were shocked!! We immediately called both sets of parents, my sister and Angie....we just couldn't believe that we were actually coming home THAT DAY! We got to the hospital, did our discharge training, signed the adoption papers from Bethany in Memphis and we were ready to go home. This is our nurse Ashley who was WONDERFUL and so helpful in this process:


I just love this picture of Mary Elizabeth really checking her car seat out:

It was finally time to come home! She did great on her long ride home!

Friday....4 Kids is a TON of work & a TON of FUN!

I came home from Jackson on Thursday and had planned to go back on Friday morning, but feeling guilty from being away from my children for so long...I decided to stick around and have a fun day out with Anna, Isaac and Luke. Alexandra Vaughan was on fall break so she joined the party!

We started out by going to Green Hills mall and doing some shopping at Janie and Jack and Gymboree for Mary Elizabeth. The kids were GREAT...I couldn't believe they weren't wild, but they did exactly what I told them. Because they were so good, I promised them a nice lunch at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants La Paz.















Leave it to my kids to order corn dogs at a Mexican restaurant, but hey, they ate great so I shouldn't complain.

Then it was on to Dragon Park. I LOVE this park...we go there quite a bit simply because it has lots of different activities and areas to play in. They had a blast as you can tell:
































We're Home!!

Praise the Lord...isn't he GREAT!!! We got home late Saturday night with our new daughter, Mary Elizabeth Freeman. I am going to be doing a ton of posts tonight so stay tuned! Sorry it has taken so long to do this, but getting adjusted to a preemie in the house has become a full time job. She is so sweet and I love seeing people's reaction to her....she is such a blessing and I can't begin to tell you how happy I am...such joy...true joy!

It is GREAT having a newborn without having all the side effects of childbirth. I love that I don't have to fool with breastfeeding, etc. and yet trust me, we are still very sleep deprived already.

So, I'm sure you want pics so I will end the post so I can start editing the 200 pics on the digital camera and tell you everything that has happened since Thursday!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Still not home...

Sorry I haven't updated the blog...I realized as I headed back to Jackson on Tuesday morning that I didn't have the laptop.

Mary Elizabeth is doing great...eating great, etc. but they needed to run some more tests so they delayed coming home a few days. I got in earlier today but I had so much to get caught up here plus I am exhausted. Who knew just sitting at a hospital could be so wearing?

We have been told that she will be released Monday at the latest but we are hoping for Saturday. Everything is just up in the air but we are still doing great and trusting in HIM.

I promise to return all the phone calls!! I am so thankful for all the love and support and trust me, every time I check messages I end up in tears all over again because everyone is just so wonderful. We will probably head back to Jackson at some point tomorrow (I just can't stand being away from her and yet it is hard to juggle everything at home when I am gone) The boys are so anxious to meet their new sister and Anna can't wait to get her hands on her again.

AGAIN, thank you for you love, support and most importantly PRAYERS. We feel them and continue to need them. I will keep you all posted as I can...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Coming home without her

Tomorrow is going to be hard.

We found out today that she needs to stay until Wednesday or Thursday. An eye specialist will be coming to see her Wednesday and they want to go ahead and get her immunizations started while at the hospital as preemies often don't do as well as regular sized babies. They want to monitor her to make sure that everything goes ok. To be completely honest, I was completely ok with them keeping her. I don't want to travel home only to end up at Vanderbilt right away so I think this is the best decision.

BUT....

After we sign our official paperwork we have to come home tomorrow. The kids are dying to see us (Anna went home this morning) and Jonathan has to go back to work. It is going to SUCK leaving without her and I am already trying to figure out how to come back ASAP. My plan at this point is to come home and get stuff at the house taken care of and come back on Tuesday morning. They want us to "room in" at the NICU the night before we leave so I hope to just hang out at the hospital with her until her release on Wednesday (hopefully)

She already looks like she has grown to me..maybe it's because I am getting more and more used to her, but I can tell she is starting to get used to us as well. When we feed her the bottle, she will barely open her eyes and look at us. I guess she thinks we don't notice that she is completely checking us out. As she eats, I tell her to give me a good burp and she can lay on my chest. This morning, she looked up at me with those big eyes after her burp and snuggled into my chest....oooh how I love this child. It seems as though she is thinking, "I don't know who you are, but you feed me and hold me so I like you."

I desperately miss Isaac and Luke and even though Anna hasn't been gone long, I miss her so. She is such a great helper and is such an amazing big sister. Yesterday at lunch, she was already talking about adopting again. We had to tell her to slow down sistah! Isaac and Luke are so sweet on the phone and I know they are so excited to meet Mary Elizabeth. I can't wait for you all to meet her.

Ok, I will quit blabbing...we are EXHAUSTED and turning in early, but I will post more pics of her tomorrow. We love you all and GOD IS IN CONTROL!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

How big was the fish?

It was THIS BIG!!

More pics






Friday, October 5, 2007

Just Because I Always Want To Remember....

How I felt at this moment I wanted to type this. The last 48 hours of my life have been the most amazing, scary, joyful, prayerful, uplifting, and crazy hours of my life. In that time, I truly learned what it means to get out of God's way. I learned how much I love my wonderful, amazing husband. I got to see (once again) how much I am blessed with my three biological children and how loving and accepting that they can be. I got to see how God takes your heart that is already so full of love and adds another spot for another child. I got to see that even though I didn't give physical birth to Mary Elizabeth, that I already love her like I did. I am so blessed. So incredibly blessed.

More pics...

Ok, so the connection in the hotel is not so great, but we are going to get more pics up if we can.....

By the way, I just LOVE her hair...can't wait to get some bows (Ali, I forgot them!)

From 3 to 4

Anna wanted to share with everyone about her big day! From Anna:

Today I got to meet my baby sister. She's very tiny and she has lots of hair. I can't wait to take her home on Monday (hopefully). We found out we could come and meet her yesterday and mommy and daddy have named her Mary Elizabeth Freeman. She was born August 7th and was very early and tiny....she only weighed 1 pound 6 ounces, but now she weighs 4 pounds 3 ounces. Here I am when I got to see her for the first time:


















From Brea:

Can you tell Anna is super excited! Mary Elizabeth is so cute but so tiny. We are just so overwhelmed and SO BLESSED. We can't wait for everyone to see our new little girl. We are exhausted and have a big day tomorrow so here are the close up pics and I promise to post more as we get a chance:



Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Anna's 1st Visit to the ER

After our eventful day at High School Musical on ice, I didn't think we could have any more drama...boy was I wrong!

About 9pm on Sunday night (the 16th), Anna came in our room hysterical saying that her head hurt. Jonathan had literally just gotten in from the airport (he had been out of town since Friday). The only time she gets sick is usually with strep so I knew something was up, especially when she couldn't stop crying and whispered to me that she felt like she could pass out. After about 30 minutes, we decided to head to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. We dropped the boys off at my sister's house (thanks Ali and Josh for watching them) and spent the next four hours receiving the most expensive dose of Motrin ever. I was very frustrated that they literally did nothing, but also glad that they didn't feel it was serious.

Yes, I had my camera in my purse from HSM so I had to snap this pic:














After two more days of horrible headaches and an MRI at Vanderbilt, they prescribed some meds and diagnosed her with migraines. Needless to say it was a fun week!

High School Musical On Ice

Anna and I got to have an official girl's day on September 16th! For her 9th birthday, I got her tickets on the second row to High School Musical on ice (thanks to Angie for scoring those amazing tickets!)


We started the day off by going to Opry Mills and hitting the Disney Store outlet. Anna really wanted a Minnie Mouse costume for Disney and she found the perfect one there. Next, we headed to McDonalds on Broadway for some lunch where we met Margaret and John (Angie's sister and nephew). Then it was on to the Sommet Center and HSM! Anna was SO excited and to be honest, it was truly a GREAT show. I really enjoyed it as much as her....it was amazing that all those people could not only dance and act so great, but to be on ice skates to boot. Here is a pic of Anna during the intermission:


It was a great day and I loved having Anna all to myself!