Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's Tradition!...First Day of School Pics

First Day of School (St. Paul's Day School)- 2009 (3 Years Old):

First Day of School (Children of The Woodlands) - 2010 (4 Years Old):

First Day of School (Classical Conversations) - 2011 (5 Years Old)

Mom & Daughter First Day of School - 2011

First Day of School (Classical Conversations) - 2012 (6 Years Old)

Mom & Daughter First Day of School - 2012
(It was very sunny. :/ )

Technically, Braelyn started school at home last week...just to ease back into our routine.
And I'm so glad we did! To go from our lazy summer schedule to our full and rigorous CC/Homeschool schedule would have given us both a heart attack.

A few pics from our first day of school at home:

Zoo Keeper! I love it!

Hard at work...decorating her Bible Journal. ;)

More on homeschool still to come...hopefully...I mean, don't go holding your breath or anything, but...I'm really gonna try.  No promises.  Actually, it's probably pretty unlikely, but...we'll see.

Heh. :)
Good Night.

So Long Summer! (just a picture post)


Braelyn's 6th Birthday Party. Another gymnastics party.

Acts29 Pastors' Retreat in Newport Beach, California.

The lovely Brandi Hyde and me in the back of our 4-passenger bicycle.
A very funny afternoon.
I think, between us and the Hydes, we managed to quote every line of Arrested Development at some point during our trip.  So fun!

 And our gender reveal party!!!!!!
It's a GIRL!!!!!!!
Abigail Anne Cease...coming this November!


Playin' at the beach in Florida. (Casey was speaking at beach camp ;)

 Abby and I were also soaking up the sunshine.  Well, really me, more than her. ;)

So long summer!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Chapter 5: It's Not the Chapter I Would Have Written

Well, Aiden was home.  Our house was stirring with bottle warming and diaper changing and happy visitors, who by the way, were not allowed to hold him (for the first 2 weeks only Casey, Braelyn and I were allowed to hold him to strengthen bonding with his new family).  The Lord had heard our prayers and was blessing us beyond what we could hope or imagine, and so often those moments aren't appreciated until they're gone, but not this one.  It was as if time stood still for the Cease family and He gave us eyes to see and hearts to savor the goodness He had done.

Aiden was such a good baby.  He would wake up for a feeding or two during the night and and easily drift back to sleep.  One of our favorite pastimes was to watch him smile in his sleep.  Another image that I treasured in my heart was to see Casey with his son.  There's something special about that, isn't there?  I loved knowing that this man, who I love and trust and respect was going to be modeling for Aiden day in and day out what it meant to be a man. What a joy it is to have such confidence in the father of your children!

And so it went for those first few days.  We were engulfed in celebrating and re-learning and catching up on sleep and all that comes with newborn babies.  A long, hard chapter of my life had closed and a new one was beginning.  Not that it would be without struggle, but I was just so thankful for a NEW chapter.

The Sunday after we brought Aiden home, our social worker called and asked us to be praying for Tina, as she was feeling regretful of her decision.  We, of course had been praying for her already, but assured our social worker that we would diligently continue.  I wasn't really sure what to think of this phone call.  I can honestly say that I was not upset with Tina at all...as I said before...who could blame her! But I couldn't tell if our social worker really just wanted us to be praying, or if there a warning underneath it all.  While New Life had completely prepared us for the adoption to fall through BEFORE papers were signed, nothing was said of it happening AFTER papers were signed.

So there I was again...numb and humbled and terrified...knowing there was nothing to do but watch the Author of my life write this story out. And my spirit was willing to trust...to trust that God was going to do the very best thing, but as the story always goes with us humans...my flesh was weak...and my flesh demanded to have some control over what was happening to my family.

Remember, at this point I was also 8 weeks pregnant and I had (to my delight) been having healthy pregnancy symptoms, like tiredness and nausea and all of that.  Well, I woke up on Monday morning (5 days after we brought Aiden home) feeling like my symptoms had lightened up. Panic was welling up. "I AM GOING TO LOSE BOTH OF THESE BABIES!!!!" And as this whole situation just became too emotionally overwhelming, I could not manage a reasonable or rational thought and I went into a full-fledged anxiety attack.

In a desperate attempt to gain some sort of control over the situation...to at least know something for sure...I forced my way into an ultra-sound at my doctor's office.  I had to see that heartbeat. Kindly, the ultra-sound tech allowed me to come in, although I could tell she was a little confused as to why, but she saw me nonetheless, and it was there. There heartbeat was there.

Gasp for breath. Tears. Relief.

Ironically, on the way home from the doctor, our social worker called and said that Tina had written letters to both Aiden and us.  In her letters she shared her struggle and her grief, but also that she knew that she had made the right decision to place Aiden with us.  Our social worker seemed to think that this was a positive step and that we didn't need to worry about Tina taking Aiden back.

Another deep breath. Tears. Some relief...a small amount.

The rest of Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday we carried on...loving our new son, loving seeing Braelyn as a big sister, fighting with her over who got to feed Aiden next...all in good spirits, of course, and praying...praying fervently for Tina and for Aiden and for ourselves.

Wednesday evening, around 5:00, Casey received a call from our social worker.  Tina and her family had spoken with an attorney and we were to return Aiden to his birth-mother at 9:00 that night.

What a great sadness filled our home. It was almost tangible.  Braelyn and I held Aiden. And we wept as Casey gathered up Aiden's things and the things that Tina had given him.  We waited for my mom to drive up from Sugar Land and when she got there we let her hold the boy who was for a moment her grandson. And then Casey and I did the hardest thing I have ever done in my whole life...we returned the boy we loved to his mother.

It was a horrible night. And I'm still not over it.  My heart still hurts to think about it. I miss the boy I loved...who will likely never know that I loved him so much....will never know that there is a family in the world who thinks about him and prays for him and longs to know how he is.  It's such a strange thought.  At the same time however, I am so glad for him and for Tina that they are together.  I think she will be a good mother to him, perhaps because she knows what it means to lose him.  And she will have family around to help her and I'm sure that he will be well loved.

Obviously, there's more to say here.  There has been a lot to learn from all of this, but I'll leave some of that for another chapter, except to say that God redeems and God restores and God heals and writes more beautiful stories for us than we could write for ourselves. He is doing that for Aiden, He is doing that for Tina, and He is doing that for me and my family. As scarred and bruised as I may be from this past year, I walk away with history with the Lord...He took me through a deep and bitter valley, but He was there with me all the while and He carried me through to the other side. He shared Himself with me. I know things about Him now that I may not have known otherwise. I love the Lord....not so much in a The-Bible-Tells-Me-So sort of way, but a We've-Been-Through-Things-Together sort of way.  Please don't hear this as me boasting...it's all to do with HIS faithfulness, I assure you. But...I do share this to say...Believers...let us not curse the vallies; in the vallies we build history with the God of the universe and then...what joy there is on the other side.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thanks, Mom! And...Bringing Back an Old Post

Well folks, this is post is mostly for my mom. She took me birthday shopping today and our objective was some new pillows for the couch. Now that they're fluffed and propped up in their new home I wanted to show her how they turned out, so I'm posting this picture of my updated couch just for her. (If she had a smart phone, I would have just sent her a picture, but she doesn't so...you all get to see. ;)

THANKS, MOM, for the pillows and such a fun day! I just love 'em! Once we get that back wall painted the blue color, I think it'll make the colors really pop.  I'm excited!

Also, while I'm here, I thought I'd put a link up to a post I wrote during the 2008 Olympics. Based on comments, it is my most popular post to date. Just a few observations that I made during those Olympics. It's funny to think the same things all over again this go 'round (especially about the male divers! Holy Cow! I really cannot get over how small those suits are!) If time permits, I'll try to add to my list, but in the meantime...here's the link:  Olympic Thoughts.  If you started reading The Beautiful Meantime after 2008, go have a look...and I'd love to hear your comments and funny thoughts on the Olympics. ;)

K. Gotta Go...Gabby Douglas is rockin' the world's face off!