Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in a few words

I am going to begin with today, the 31st of December.  Grey said the words, "I love you mommy!" to me as she and Chet walked out the door.  THAT is the best way to end the year!

I think more than any year in our entire marriage (and lives for that matter) this year included the most changes for us:

Grey started running and hasn't ever stopped in January!
Grey Danelle turned 1 on March 22nd!
Decided we wanted to be closer to Lubbock family, schools, doctors and amenities so we placed our home on the market in the spring.
Sold our home and bought a new one in Wolfforth in June!
Moved the last weekend of June!
I became a Nerium Brand Partner in July!
I started co-teaching Jumpstart in August.
Grey started school two days a week in August.
Grey started speech therapy in August.
Praised God for our son's life for three years on his 3rd birthday on August 28th.
Found out we would be adopting in September!
Chet started a new job (praise God!) in October!
Stopped teaching in October, and was able to dedicate more time to Nerium!
Moved Grey to a better school for her in October!
Advanced to Executive Director with Nerium in November!
Completed our entire home study and all adoption paperwork in November!
Welcomed our precious Rose Catherine on December 23rd!
Stepped off the board of Holden Uganda on December 31st.
*This needs an explanation so here is what I wrote on my Facebook status:
In the past three years, we have been overwhelmed with the support and love in our son's honor to build clean water wells. Holden Uganda has built over 150 water projects, far more than we ever dreamed.

Our decision to leave the Board has been one we've prayed about for the entire past year. We know all things have seasons, and we wanted our son's legacy to end in a good season.

We are still VERY passionate about clean water, and look forward to working with The Ugandan Water Project and Charity Water in the future (both amazing organizations).

The Holden Uganda Foundation Board voted to not dissolve, and not remove Holden's name from the Foundation, but Chet and I have no part of Holden Uganda from here on out.

We are grateful to our Lord and Savior for His abundant blessings and grace over this ministry ... And so very grateful to all of you who supported it.

We want family and friends to know we are not part of Holden Uganda or any of its future endeavors.

This year was filled with countless emotions, both good and difficult.  Our family experienced many changes that stretched us and made us so grateful for a God who is mightier than any troubles and stresses.

These past few years remind me of how fast time really does pass us by.  May we always remember to glorify the Creator of each day.  Thank you Lord for your unfailing mercy, blessings, love and grace.

Happy New Year's to our friends and family!

How can I repay the LORD for all His goodness to me? Psalm 116:12

Rose 1 week

One week of bliss, really.  I believe Rose is a gift from heaven in every single way.

At one week old, Rose is:

  • The BEST sleeper!!  We have to wake her up to eat in the middle of the night!  She is a SUPER SLEEPER.  Such a difference from her big sister ;).
  • Smiles all day.  For reals.  I know it's likely a muscle reaction, but she is the happiest, most easy going baby.  JOY.
  • Such a snuggler.  We don't argue here.
  • Perfect. 

At her 1 week well-check today:
Weighed 6 lbs 10 oz - 25%
Was 19.5 inches long - 60%
Head 13.8 inches circumference - 60%

I plan on purchasing a large stuffed animal that we can do these comparison photos with, like Grey's grey bear pictures, but I am afraid to go in public with all the crazy flu and viruses going around.

I realize I didn't post this blog last night.  Oops.  I am a day late on her weekly blogs already!

This is what the LORD says - he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  Isaiah 43:16, 18-19

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Rose's story

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. Jeremiah 1:5
Daddy's first time to hold Rose

If there's one thing I am not short of, it's words.  Yet every time I sit at my computer to type out Rose's story, I find myself staring through tears at a blank screen.  I will do my best to share a little of her story,  as it is a huge testament of God's goodness and perfect plans.

Chet and I have always known we would adopt, and known any children added to our family from here on out would be adopted.  This summer, we knew it may be quite a few years before we were able to adopt though, so we laid those plans out before Christ.  To be honest, I was disappointed and had to remind myself to mindfully praise God in the "hard" - knowing that His plans are always greater than my own.  In July we decided to get serious about saving up to adopt, and wait on the Lord to open doors up "in Uganda" or "wherever" He might do so.  I started Nerium in July to help out with those plans financially, "far in the future".

In August, Chet and I learned of a precious birth mom who was making the most selfless decision of all: adoption.  She wanted to give the child growing inside of her a family with a mom and dad.  At that point, we decided maybe our only part in her story, and her baby's story, was to pray for them.

So we did.  We prayed every day for her, never imagining our stories to intertwine past prayer.  My heart went out to her, knowing the weight of her decision.  The selflessness of choosing life.  The sacrifice she was making.  Hurting for what we knew she would feel one day, leaving a hospital without the baby she had been carrying for nine months.  We already loved her and felt as though we would never forget her no matter what.

We never imagined adopting domestically, or even what that looked like.  We never imagined adopting a child at birth.  And we most certainly never imagined actually meeting and falling in love with the birth mom of our future child(ren).  

In September, we received an email from our birth mom, sharing her story and sharing with us that she was carrying a girl.  This email changed everything we ever knew, and our lives forever.  We wrote back and forth a few times, and agreed that we should meet and get to know each other in person.  On September 21st, we met our earthly hero.  A beautiful, brave, amazing woman who was making the hardest decision one could ever make to give her child a life she could not give.  If our stories together ceased there, I believe she would still be our earthly hero.

That evening, September 21, 2013, she told us we would be her daughter's forever Mommy and Daddy.

Through four months of precious details only God in His goodness could orchestrate, we built a relationship with our birth mom that has changed me as a woman in ways I never knew I could be changed.  We named our daughter Rose Catherine.  Her daddy named her Rose in honor of his great grandmother, and we chose Catherine in honor of a Hope Baby that was the reason our stories were connected.  The perfect name for the perfect little miracle.

[Our birth mom chose a private adoption, and we worked with a highly recommended adoption attorney and social worker.  I only add this detail because so many of you have asked.]

At the beginning of our story with our birth mom, my sister had quickly "guessed" a birthday of December 23rd.  I told our birth mom that, and she told me the number 23 had been very special to her for her whole life.  We casually counted down to her birth as the 23rd of December, knowing that only God knew her actual birthday (due date was January 1).

On the morning of December 23rd, our birth mom was in labor.

I will not share hospital details, as they are the most difficult and precious part of Rose's entire story, and she will be the only one we share them with in their entirety one day.  The three days we spent in the hospital are three that are burned into our hearts forever.  Unless you have walked by a birth mom's side, and loved someone so deeply, it is impossible to convey what it feels like to be given the gift of adoption.

Our Christmas miracle was released to come HOME with us on Christmas Day.

Many have asked why we kept her story private for the most part, other than sharing with a few of our closest friends and family.  The answer is simple:  We have the utmost respect for our birth mom, and if she had chosen another plan for Rose's life after she was born, we did not want anyone to ever disrespect her or her decision.  We never wanted her to feel pressure from us, just because the "whole world knew".

Adoption is the most difficult thing we have ever been through emotionally.  We cried more at the hospital during Rose's birth than we did during Holden and Grey's births (and I didn't think that was possible)!  There are never words to describe the respect, love and admiration we have for Rose's birth mom.  Her sacrifice and selflessness leave me speechless and bawling daily.  We are reminded of God's greatness in a way that doesn't even seem possible as we hold and love our second daughter.  She is truly the most planned and beautiful baby on earth.

Our birth mom held onto the promise of Romans 8:28 over Rose's story.  Amen.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Rose Catherine Erwin

God blessed our family with a true Christmas Miracle, the addition of Rose Catherine.
Rose was born on Monday evening, and we arrived home with her on Christmas Day.  

Rose's adoption is a precious, beautiful story, and one that we will thank God for our entire lives, but our extreme joy is of course equally met with extreme sacrifice and selflessness on our birth mom's part.  We will share part of Rose's story soon.  But for now we have lots of snuggling to do.  

Truly thanking God for his unspeakable gifts this Christmas. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

21 Months with our big girl!

This month has been super emotional for me, and every time I look at Grey, I am reminded at how fast babies turn into children.  She is getting so BIG, and not just in size.  Her vocabulary is finally taking off, and we add a new word every week!  She realizes she is entertaining and eats.it.up.  She is a ham, loves everyone to be happy (when people are sad she gets REALLY upset!), and her energy level is out of this world.

Some big accomplishments lately:

1. Expanded vocabulary---WOOHOO!!  We are still considerably behind the curve, but we are trying hard.  When she learns a new word she will repeat it 10,000 times.  It's fun.  Her favorite word is "mine"…and boy oh boy does she know the meaning to that.  ;)

2.  Growth:  Chet weighed Grey in at 22.5 pounds a few days ago (we thought she was much bigger, but I guess not)!  We fit into 18 month clothes perfectly, but we are starting to break out some 2T outfits (I am not handling that very well).  We are still in size 4 diapers.  Longest lasting size of any diaper.

3.  Empathy:  Grey's had a sense of empathy for months and months (probably over a year) now, but she is acting upon others' feelings all the time now.  She seems to know and understand needs and is always willing to help.

4.  Finding objects in books!  I love that she can find most animals, the moon, and familiar objects.  It has made her love for books grow tremendously lately.

As I type this, Grey is holding a screw driver and helping her Dad fix one of our bar stools.  She loves being a part of every moment, and learns things so quickly it is sometimes frightening.  She has reached the stage of picky eating (thankfully she still chooses mostly healthy items - we aren't telling her we want her to eat those!), and wanting to pick out her own outfits and shoes for the day.  We often go through ten items to wear before she decides on one.  I guess this is something I need to get used to for the rest of her life. :)

Her best friend is Rusty, and they play ALL day long.  When we put Rusty outside, she screams at the back door like we have slammed her finger in the door.  Rusty sleeps under her bed and is equally in love with her (either that or he's just being heroic). ;)  She has been fascinated by Christmas lights and trees this year.  It is CRAZY how much she's' changed since her fuzzy-headed self last Christmas.  We've only had one tree destroying incident, and it was right after I proudly told another mom, "Grey's not touched the tree all year!"  Go me.

Her will is strong and her heart is soft.  I love being her mommy and I am soaking up each moment of this stage.  Even if it has proved to be one of her toughest.

What a year it has been for the Erwins.
New home.
New jobs (for both of us).
New school for Grey.
New beginnings.
So many blessings.
MERRY CHRISTMAS to all of our friends and family!

Some jewels from this month:

Pajama day at school!

We can take selfies now! 

When Momma picked up her new Lexus

I just love this one.  Her cheesy smile is my favorite thing on earth.

Today I attempted a few since tomorrow is her official 21 month birthday, but we just didn't cooperate much at all.  It was cold outside, so I don't really blame her. :)

Fascinated by the tree and ornaments this year.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


After loving how my skin felt, and the fact that my facial scars were diminishing, I decided to become a Nerium Brand Partner after less than two months of using Nerium.  I joined in July, and 4 1/2 months later I have earned an iPad, a Lexus car, and now make more than I did working full-time with a college degree.  

I love how God brought Nerium into our lives this summer and fall, just at the right time!  It has been a huge blessing to our family and to our entire team, so I thought it was worth a blog post.  

Today, 4 1/2 months later, I am an Executive Director, and I love that I can be home with Grey and contribute to our family's finances!  Double bonus!!

20 Months and a snowy weekend!

Our little miss turned 20 months on Friday, the day that our first winter blizzard arrived.  We quickly learned that cold weather and snow are not on Grey's favorite things list.  Yay for something she gets from ME! :) 

We bundled up bright and early this morning and drove (don't knock it…it was -2 degrees out with windchill) the 1/4 mile to our neighborhood park, with real camera in tow.  We had Grey all dressed up and even curled her hair.  I just knew we would capture precious snowy day photos of her running and playing in the beautiful white wonderland.  
We should have been clued-in to how it would go when she screamed bloody murder to just put her big jacket on.  And forget gloves or a hood.  By the time the wet cold stuff touched her boots she lost it.  I mean.  LOST IT.  
So we drove back home and decided to slowly introduce the snow to her.  We let her stare out the doors and windows for a few hours, and attempted to get her to touch it (which she would never do willingly).  Finally I donned a hat and she wanted to do the same.  Daddy decided we could try to build a snowman in our front yard.  She still didn't want anything to do with the snow, and begged to be let into daddy's pick-up to watch Daddy work, but at least we got her exposed.  Maybe next year?

Cold weather IS for the birds, honey.  I agree.

YAY for daddy's "warm" truck!

She knew she was tricked into the hat thing as soon as we stepped outside. ;)

Sweet girl was okay as long as we wouldn't make her step in the snow.

A couple weekends ago we had a friend photographer take a couple photos for us to use for a Christmas card.  We have been having such a crazy fall/winter, I think we may just do a New Year's card this year.  Grey was not in a photo taking mood, so photos were a bit tough that morning.  Kendra was quite a rockstar for even getting a couple out of our mini-shoot.  

Erwin Family, Fall 2013

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.  
Colossians 2:6-7

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Halloween 2013... a wee bit late ;)

I knew I wouldn't be able to post these until November...and I didn't surprise myself at that. ;)

I would certainly not miss out on posting the cutest wittle Bop Kitty I have ever laid my eyes on though, even if I am late!

Getting her costume on required pulling teeth, new gray hairs popping from my head, lots of bribery chocolate and tears from more than just the toddler...but once she had it on and realized she was a KITTY, she ate.it.up.  We let her paint our faces with quite a few "whiskers", which she thought was the best part of the day!  She meowed and meowed in the cutest squeaky voice and LOVED being "Bop Kitty"!  Such a fun parenting moment for us to see her enjoy the evening as much as she did.

About to go trick-or-treating in our wagon!

We got back all sugared up and she was peek-a-boo kitty around the house.  

Kisses for Da!

Oh how I love our Boppy Bunny and Bop Kitty Princess. ;)

This past weekend we had our friends Brittney and Jessica in for our annual Tech game together.  Tough outcome, but such a GREAT weekend with friends regardless. 

November started out wonderful!  Grey is loving school, we are enjoying the last bit of the year that isn't super chilly, Christmas decor is going up, Chet's job is such a blessing and he's so happy to be in a better company, and I love my job! (I earned my Lexus with Nerium last month, and business is going great!)  

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.  Psalm 37:5-6

Sunday, October 27, 2013

a glimpse into the life of a 19 month old

Grey is...
Full of spirit
Full of opinions
Full of giggles
Full of fight (we started our assertive 2s a bit early)
Learning to say more words each week (praise the Lord)
Always excited to try new things
Loving to read to herself and to us
Loving to interact with other children
Loving her new school

I took these photos on the 23rd, because Grey had her first ever round of hand, foot & mouth disease (YUCK!), so she was extremely grumpy on the 22nd.  They all turned out blurry with bad lighting, but at least I captured her personality (and her pumpkin shirt from Crafty Momma Amanda - check her work out on Facebook).  We have started to use essential oils in our home, and I believe the combination of coconut oil/lavender oil baths with frankincense and thieves in our diffuser reduced the duration and severity of HFM by a lot.  Within three days her nasty blisters were GONE.  Thank you Jesus for an "easy" time with HFM.

Saying goodbye before I left on Friday

Grey spent this weekend with her Daddy while I met my sister and friend Blair in Dallas for Jen Hatmaker's Reckless conference.  Jen can bring it!  Whew...the truth she spoke was life-changing - as I knew it would be.  Meeting Jen was on my bucket list...and guess what?  She is even more real (if that's possible), in person.  Let's just say Mark 2:22 had me thinking the whole drive home today.

I, of course, gave her an awkward hug and forgot everything I wanted to say.  You also probably knew that would happen.

I have loved soaking in Grey's little toddler self this fall.   It has been very challenging at times, but watching her master a new skill or giggle until she's crying makes every moment worth it.  She is SO full of life.  Our Savior has used my daughter to teach me a lot about patience, but even more about joy.

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Season of changes

releasing balloons.  looking up.  remembering our hold and all of our hope baby friends.
October 15th
National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day

We certainly don't need a special day to remember our son in heaven, though we love that there IS a day for the world to remember and learn more.  Holden and all of his friends in heaven are so very loved.  Three years ago yesterday, we joined the Midland Memorial Walk for Babies.  What a God we serve to change so much for His glory since then.

Green chili chicken chili is in the crock pot, my little love is couch napping, I'm ignoring the laundry in the dryer and the endless emails that need my attention... and acting like I have a few minutes to blog.  Let's see how long this lasts ;).  

This month has been probably the craziest season of change in our entire marriage (moreso than moving this summer).  We pulled Grey from the school she was at, due to several things, but mostly it just wasn't the fit we had hoped it would be.  That made me very sad, but we knew we had to be her parents before any loyalties to any place.  (Because of that, I am no longer teaching the Jumpstart Reading program there either.)  We trusted God knew what was best, and the very next day a spot at an AMAZING Christian Children's Day Out came open for her.  This is the best fit for our daughter, and Grey is so much happier.  She even cried when I tried to get her to leave the other day.  Is there anything better to a Mommy's heart?! :) The CDO just so happens to be at the church we are likely to become members at too.  God is good.

Nerium has been such a huge financial blessing to our family, that I certainly do not need to be teaching right now.  The hour or so I commit to Nerium each day has almost equaled the full-time salary I made at the college before staying home with Grey.  It's crazy to think I've only done this for three months.  Chet and I are so glad I started this fun journey.  I love that I can be a Mommy while contributing to our family in this way.
Yesterday, Chet accepted a position with a different wireline company.  He was offered quite a few positions this past week (he's pretty awesome like that!), so we had big decisions to make.  He chose the one that would allow us to stay here in Lubbock, which of course makes me very happy.  He will also get most weekends off...umm...we may not even know what to do with Daddy around that much.  PRAISING GOD!!  

I love how our needs are known by the Lord before we ever even know that we need them.  Grey is taken care of in the best atmosphere, and Chet's hard work and dedication have paid off hugely.  We are blessed more than we deserve.

So much to thank God for as we settle into our lives here.  
This fall and winter have wonderful things in store.

PS  I keep getting asked if I am pregnant.  The answer: no.  The top in the above photo is blousy and it was super windy yesterday.  Thanks for asking though. lol 

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.  
Philippians 4:19

Saturday, October 5, 2013

18 month well-check and going ons

This photo makes me laugh, because it describes one of our favorite past-times perfectly: snacking!! :)

Grey had her 18 month well-check yesterday, which THANKFULLY means her last shots until she's 4.  Wow!  So grateful for that!  I take them much worse than she does. ;)  They told us they must've measured her length incorrectly at her 15 month appointment.  So...man!  We had a fun little bit of time thinking we were on the tall side for once haha! ;) (We had a feeling they messed them up, but we couldn't help but enjoy it!)
Height: 30 1/2" - 25%
Weight: 23 lbs. - 30%
Head Circumference: 18.2" - 50%

I feel like a growth spurt is around the corner, because Grey has started eating a ton again!  She can out-eat me sometimes!

We are LOVING our speech therapists and Grey's using sign language and attempting more sounds than she ever has.  She really does have the two best therapists, who clearly love her...and the feeling is mutual.  It makes my mommy heart so happy to know she is taken care of so well.

We have decided to put Grey in a smaller preschool, or CDO, as her class size was a bit large for her personality, so we made the decision to pull her out.  We are on a few waiting lists, so Grey will have sitters on Tuesdays while I teach until a spot opens up for her.

I love the fall and everything about it.  It is my favorite Texas month, and I am really trying to savor this season of our lives.  I feel like summer was a whirlwind (when isn't it around here!?), so I am doing my very best to enjoy each day.  Grey is such a fun little person, who never ceases to amaze me in countless ways.  She loves nature, which means we are outside for a majority of the day since the cooler temps have arrived.

We have slowly acquired furniture and started decorating more.  Autumn decor has made me excited to tune my "homemaker" skills - finally!  Chet is still working lots of hours and I am teaching and staying very busy with Nerium, but we have loved family time here in Wolfforth.

Looking forward to lots of wonderful things this season...

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.  Psalm 19:1b

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Freezer Meals with Friends

You guys!  This is genius, so I need to blog it for anyone interested.  That and I said I would ;).

I was invited to create freezer meals with a group of ladies I actually didn't really even know.  I of course said yes. :)  They had me at new friends and food.  And saving money.  And time.

The Idea:

Spend part of just one day preparing homemade meals that only need to be cooked, saving days and days of work in the long run.  And probably many days of ordering food because of exhaustion by the end of a busy day.

Also, by preparing these meals in bulk, it also cuts down on lots of $$.  

Plus, who wouldn't want to spend about 4 hours with friends, learning new recipes, chatting and encouraging/getting to know each other better?!

-This is best achieved with about 6 participants.  Too many would make it nearly impossible to fit in one kitchen, and too little means not a lot of work and meals can be made.
-I highly recommend a church group or any group do this, and store in a deep freezer for anyone who could use a meal.  What a way to reach out and minister!)

The Prep:

The "Hostess" and group choose the meal recipes for the month.  They need to be things that can be frozen, like soups, marinades, casseroles and crock pot meals.  I partook in none of this part, as Chet and I love about anything, and I was ready for new recipes any ways. :)

The "Hostess" (or anyone I suppose, but we were just lucky our hostess did) compiles the massive list of ingredients - and shops for them.  She must multiply each recipe by 6 or 12 or however many.  By massive, I mean, this person needs an SUV, good math skills and a babysitter.  This type of shopping cannot be accomplished without all of these things.  Our hostess went to the back of the meat department at SAMs Club and received an unbeatable price for meat in bulk.  I mean, when you are buying 90 lbs. of chicken breasts alone, you want a GOOD DEAL.  The first time I saw the ingredients stacked and scattered throughout her kitchen, it took my breath away.  They took over her kitchen.  It's a LOT of food.

The day or night before the big work, everyone gets one task to make the next day feasible to complete in about 4 hours.  The tasks include things like:
- Brown ground beef
- Cook chicken
- Brown sausage
- Cook and crumble bacon
- Make marinades

[I was able to brown about 15 lbs. of ground beef in about 45 minutes.  I just did small batches over and over.  It's not bad at all.]

The Day of:

Show up ready to WORK and sweat! :)
By the end of the four hours, I was a hot mess.  I had planned to photograph the entire process, but that would've meant less work and more germs touching my phone.  And I completely forgot about it 30 minutes in.  So much for that...

Everyone breaks down tasks.  For instance, my first task was to layer an enchilada casserole bake.  You spread out 6 (or 12 depending on if the meal is doubled) casserole dishes (we used foil and disposable ones, but some groups may opt for a more earth friendly deal) and start an assembly line finishing that recipe up.

Then you start the next.  And the next.

And so forth.

Working as a group and team made things go quickly and was so much fun.

Soups and meats with marinades go into gallon ziploc bags.  Line out the bags and start adding ingredients.

Label everything!  Our hostess printed out cutesy labels (if I would've been in charge I would've used a sharpie.  Thank God for creative souls.), so it looked like a genuine Pinterest project going on.

Use a large foldout table or two to start stacking meals on.  Peeking at the growing stacks energized me throughout the process. ;)

We plan to do these every other month or so.  I loved the idea and felt SOOOO accomplished filling our freezer with recipes such as Chicken Cordon Blue Bake, Lasagne Pie, Enchiladas, White Chicken Chili, Pomegranate Chicken, etc etc etc.  

The recipes chosen are very individualized to your group.  Also, if someone doesn't like an ingredient, it can be omitted from their dishes.  Super easy to please anyone!

Worth it folks!  Just ask Chet.  He's loved his breakfast burritos on the way out the door at 5am.  :)

Nearly 1 1/2!

As we near 18 months this weekend, I had two goals that needed to be accomplished during today's nap time: blog and/or input Nerium receipts for taxes.  That was kind of a no brainer. ;) (Sorry Chet)
I really need to spend a few minutes capturing some of this amazing little 18 month-old personality on here:
  • Grey has never done anything halfheartedly in her life.  She is fully happy or fully not.  Though sometimes that means we breakdown into giant fits when we don't get our way at this age, it also (more often) means we love entirely.  This girl loves with everything she can give.  We are wrapped in BEAR hugs (literally squeezing breath out sometimes) and kisses throughout the day.  
  • Her heart is beautifully sensitive.  She senses emotions in ways that astound me.  She is highly bothered by anyone being unhappy, and if anyone is crying she will cry with them and hug them.  She is her momma's baby ;).  We will just be cryers for life I guess.  Every.single.morning we meltdown when Daddy leaves for work.  It's so incredibly sweet and sad.  I don't even know how to handle it except to love her through it.  
  • Oh how she loves her Daddy. (And the feeling is mutual!) :)
  • Grey goes to speech therapy on Monday and Wednesday mornings.  I am blown away by how awesome her two therapists are.  I mean, Grey loves them.  I know therapy will help her speak to her full potential, and I am very grateful for it.  (Might I add I am grateful we live in Lubbock so that we aren't driving 3 hours every other day for this!!) 
  • Grey is warming up to school slowly and surely.  Let's just be honest and real here...it has been a rough transition for all of us.  She attends school Tuesdays and Thursdays from about 7:30-3:30, and has not really found her groove there yet.  This Tuesday we started to see a little light at the end of the adjustment tunnel though.  Praise God!!!  Whew this momma heart needed that.  I guess we just enjoy each other's company a little too much. :)
  • Sunday night was the first night we decided to go "cold turkey" off all bottles.  I can officially say she is WEANED entirely from all bottles (she was having one nightly bottle since about 12 months).  She has shocked us and not taken it bad at all.  In fact, she fusses for about one minute at night and then falls asleep.  No lie.  Had I known it would be this easy we would've quit two months ago. ;)  It hurt my heart to throw her bottles in the trash on Monday.  I actually cried the whole walk back to our dumpster.  I wasn't ready for by precious baby to grow up like that.  
  • She is so expressive it constantly has us cracking up.  This girl might not be very verbal, but she is never short of character.  There is no mistaking what she wants.  
  • She still loves music and dancing, and has honed her dancing skills quite a bit.  I cannot wait for ballet at 2!!
  • She has been trying to potty train herself for about a month.  We keep stopping her efforts.  Her mind is ready, but her physical body is not yet, which leads to lots of frustration and tears.  She dashes to her little girl potty every time she needs to go, but most often has already wet her diaper or underwear, which makes her so upset.  By so upset we will cry.  I have no idea why she gets so upset!  We have never made it a bad thing to use the bathroom in her diaper or underwear.  It's all her.  So we have basically stopped these efforts at all costs.  We will start again closer to two. ;)
  • Grey loves animals, children and people in general.  Her personal bubble is about 1/2 centimeter.  I love her.
We thank God for the miracle of Grey's life each and every day.  Being a toddler mom is not always easy, but it is always amazing.  I am so honored to get to watch my precious daughter grow up.  I am in denial that she is going to be 18 months.  Really.  This time of her life is always leaving me in complete awe.  She is brilliant (if I must say so myself) and soaks up the world.  We have meaningful conversations now, and she understands what I am saying.  She loves to clean with me and be my shadow.  Some of our very favorites are going to the Science Spectrum, Jump n Jungle, parks all over Lubbock, watering the flowers, playing with the puppies and kitty, going to the zoo in Abilene, etc.  She is my .... gulp .... big girl now.

I love you fully my precious girl.  May I teach you to walk in God's ways.

And your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right or to the left.  Isaiah 30:21

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Holden's 3rd Birthday

What a miracle that we were able to spend our son's 3rd birthday (Glory Day) as a family - and not just as a family, but with JOY.

We decided to start a yearly photo tradition with Holden Bear.  (Check out the Molly Bear's ministry!)  Sweet girl was so happy and loved getting to snuggle Holden Bear.

We drove to Snyder to pray and release balloons at Holden's resting place.  It was a precious family experience.  Some dear friends even left Grey some toys there, which was such a kind gesture and one she (and us) appreciated a lot. 

Celebrating Holden's birthdays without our son in my arms will always jolt my heart.  It was a bittersweet day for us, but we rest in the knowledge and promises of Christ our King.  

We sing:

There Will Be a Day
Jeremy Camp

I try to hold on to this world with everything I have
But I feel the weight of what it brings, and the hurt that tries to grab
The many trials that seem to never end, His word declares the truth
That we will enter in this rest with wonders anew

But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering

There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we'll hold on to you always

I know the journey seems so long
You feel you're walking on your own
But there has never been a step
Where you've walked out all alone

Troubled soul don't lose your heart
Cause joy and peace He brings
And the beauty that's in store
Outweighs the hurt of life's sting

But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering

There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we'll hold on to you always

I can't wait until that day where the very one
I've lived for always will wipe away the sorrow that I've faced
To touch the scars that rescued me from a life of shame and misery
O, this is why, this is why I sing

There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face

There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face

There will be a day he will wipe away the tears
He will wipe away the tears
He will wipe away the tears
There will be a Day

We love you so very, very much Holden.  Three years without you sometimes seems like an eternity, but we know it is all a whisper.  A blink.  
Happy 3rd Birthday Holden Newell Erwin.
Daddy, Mommy and Grey

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.  
Revelation 21:4

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Glory here.

Shuffield Photography

August 27, 2013
Sweet son,
I have looked through all of the photos we have of your brief time in our arms this evening.  It is the evening before your third year spent in Glory.  My eyes are glistening and blurry, 
but my heart is at peace because I know you are.
I am always astounded at the perfect details God created in you.  I see your sister in you which is a sweet gift from the Lord.  (I think your feet were as large as Grey's are now though.)  
You are handsome and perfect, and still take my breath away.

I remember my pregnancy with you as vividly as I remember anything I did yesterday.  It was one of the most special times in my life, for sure.  
The moment we first held you, that moment that was far too brief, I knew you would change me in a profound way.  And you have.

I miss you.
I get to work with three year-olds this year.  Did you know I miss teaching you to read? I know you are smart, and I was certain with a name like Holden Newell you would be scholarly.
I miss hearing you talk about your birthday party tomorrow incessantly, excitedly telling everyone the theme and how good the cake will be.  I am guessing you would be thrilled about football season for the first year too.  This would make your Daddy proud. ;)  I miss seeing you wear a matching Tech tee with your Daddy.

This year I have realized you would no longer be a baby.  You would be potty trained, know the alphabet, a soccer and t-ball player no doubt, and a big boy in every sense of the word.  My little baby has been difficult to let go of.  You are always a baby in my mind.  

I am grateful the Lord continues to teach me about Him through you, Holden Newell.
I am a better Momma to your little sister.  Did you know I fail a lot as a mom?  I lose my patience.  I choose to 'do it myself' instead of teach.  I rush life along.  These are moments that God reminds me of how precious life is, and how much I know that even more because of you. 

I still wonder why God chose us to be your parents.  Often I feel inadequate to be "Holden's Mommy". I fight against intense selfish desires to be your mommy here.  For three years I have felt guilty about wanting to give it all back to have you here; Holden Uganda, my new walk with Christ, our marriage, our life now.  All of it.  I would do anything.  
But tonight I realize I truly would not.  
I would not change the beautiful purpose God set out for your life. 
I would not deny you life in perfect Glory to live in this broken world. 

You are part of our life in a way we could never have you if you were on earth.
You will always impact us, and our prayer is to never let "normal" sink back in.  

We are celebrating your life.  
We are praising God for giving us 9 precious months with you on this side of eternity, 
and endless time with you one Day.
We get a tiny glimpse of Glory here every day being your parents.

We echo Paul, "Death is swallowed up in VICTORY!"

Tonight I am grateful for the HOPE we have through salvation in our Savior, Jesus Christ, to know you for all of eternity.  After three years of being your Mommy, 
I am always most grateful for this priceless gift when you cross my mind.  
A thousand times a day.

Happy 3rd Birthday to the person who made me Mommy.
I love you forever and always.

For you have made him most blessed forever; 
You have made him exceedingly glad with Your presence.  
Psalm 21:6