Friday, December 20, 2013


My blogging has been put on the backburner and I'm trying to get back into the swing of it. We'll see how this goes.

I don't even think I blogged about our Halloween. Everyone was a little under the weather so we tried to keep it low key. At the end of the night Harris was asking if we could please just go home, so I guess it wasn't quite low key enough. I really didn't want to skip trick or treating since we had a first timer and she was SO excited. Here they are at the beginning. Everyone is happy......ready to go.

At the time, I thought we started trick or treating too early because several houses on our street didn't answer their doors. Looking at this picture I'm thinking they were just hiding from us. We eventually teamed up with some neighbors and could no longer be denied. 

We went to visit Tom at work that morning because I'd promised them a Halloween treat and then it fell through. They really were not feeling too hot so we kept our stay brief and tried not to spread our germs. True to form, Walker, who dresses up almost everyday, refused to dress up on Halloween. There is no way I was fighting that battle.

We had such a nice Thanksgiving. We had a leisurely day around the house. Well, as leisurely as it can be with four children. Later that evening we went to Caroline's sister's house. It's so odd to think we didn't know these people at Thanksgiving last year and now consider that group our family. What a difference a year makes!

Cowboy boots......check.
Sassy stance........check. 
Biggest smile in texas.........check. 
I love that boy.


Walker had the most Thanksgiving spirit of all of us. 

Then Harris turned 6 and took his first solo plane ride to visit his Mimi. He has flown quite a bit and knows the ropes so he was all ready for his adventure. 

He couldn't possibly have had more fun. He needed something that was only about him and this was perfect.

We visited Santa. It was Caroline's first time and she was so excited. Walker, who was elated last year, didn't want near him this year.



Santa didn't really take no for an answer, though.

I took the big kids to see The Nutcracker, which was a great experience. The theater it's in is so neat and they had a special kids performance. I'm looking forward to next year already.

Walker made many, many crowns. He had a favorite that he wore everywhere for a couple of weeks.



Walker also has been joining us for "Walker Goolsby school." The little person who rejected all group/organized activities for the first four years of his life is coming around. I love it!

He also helped make cookies. They alllllllll helped.

I went from one helper to four. Walker is just recently interested, Hayes is just recently able, and Caroline is new on the scene. It's different having eight little hands all of a sudden but so sweet. Hayes could not be any more proud when it's his turn to dump something in. He thinks he is so big! I have to use smaller measuring spoons so everyone gets a turn. That one tsp of salt takes quite awhile to dump when it's measured out in 1/4 increments and "assisted" into the bowl by all those little people.

I wanted to write this before Christmas because I know that's a post in and of itself. I'm ready for Jesus to come. I read a devotional discussing the good news/bad news inherent in the message that Jesus came to save people from their sins. Good news: your Savior came! Bad news: you require a Savior! This past six months has left me reeling and even more aware that I need a Savior. I need Jesus and am yearning to celebrate his birth. Life has been so busy. I've been working part time for my old company (which is over) and then I got sick, and I have four (?!?!?!) kids and homeschool two of them and the days are passing. I just want to breathe and hear the Christmas story and ponder what a miracle Christmas is. Emmanuel, God is with us. 

God has given me a new perspective on what our adoption cost and a new appreciation for what it means to see our mess down here and choose to get involved. Not just involved....he sent his SON. I nearly had a panic attack sending my son to Houston to people that adore him and would protect him at any cost. I don't love enough to send my son to anything less than that. But God does. This Advent, more than any other, I am left knowing I have nothing to offer a newborn King and am grateful He came anyway.

"And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them."
Luke 2:20

I've heard the same news the shepherds did, and so much more. As I return to my routine, just as they did, I am praying that I'll be glorifying and praising God as well.  But before it is back to normal life, I want these next few days to be a time to pause and re-orient my compass to focus on the one who gives life.  

For my eyes have seen your salvation,
 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 
a light for revelation to the Gentiles, 
and the glory of your people Israel.”
 (Luke 2:30-32 NIV)

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Harris, you have been on this earth SIX years.

Little guy, you are such a pleasure to spend time with! Your personality is just as fun and sweet as it can be.  I took you on a date and asked you where you wanted to go. You picked Orange leaf and the library. Your tastes are so simple and you loved it! On the way home, of your own accord, you thanked me for taking you out. I love your sweetness all rolled up with your maturity as you age. You haven't lost that innocence and I cherish that.

A few weeks ago, we were out at a restaurant. A waiter was joking with you and being silly. The night before, a quartet had tried to get you to dance while they were singing. Both times, you didn't know how to react. You just got embarrassed and didn't really participate in either instance. However, your Uncle Justin and several different people we interacted with asked you questions like you were an adult. You answered them back in articulate, complete responses. I hadn't noticed before but you definitely prefer to deal with adults like adults. You can get silly like no other with kids but not grown ups. Yet there is no situation that a burp is not cause for hysterical laughter. :)

You keep me on my toes and I know if I say something even slightly inaccurate you"ll correct me with, "well mommy, actually........"  and I know not to argue with you because you're always right! What's so sweet about it is that you don't care about being right because you are trying to prove your knowledge, you are just interested in the facts and doing things as they should be done. I asked you not to erase you homeschool notebook because you'd been doing it so quickly then erasing it all (dry erase markers) that I wasn't getting a chance to look it over. The next day you asked me to erase it. I just handed you a napkin. You started with the, "well, actually mommy" just because you wanted to follow my instructions, even though I didn't remember I'd given them to you! Sweet boy. You are still my little rule follower.

This was "wacky Wednesday" at your school. You had no interest in wearing clothes in ways they weren't meant to be worn and it took quite a bit of convincing to get you to participate. Here you are, probably counting the minutes down until you can go home and dress appropriately. :)
You think about what is being said around you. We were at the hospital recently and you overheard someone talking about a doctor that people come from all over the world to see. Hours later, you asked me how the doctor was able to communicate with people from all over the world, since they spoke so many different languages. Good question! 

This is just such a Harris story I want to remember it. You were playing at a friends house with a boy a couple of years older. When we left, he asked when you could come back so you guys could "keep organizing." You found a kindred spirit. :)

Here you are, studying the layout of the Houston Medical Center. It's enormous and I'm slightly embarrassed to say you helped me navigate the map and determine which parking garage we must have parked in.
As much as you do big kid things, you adore Hayes and will stop what you are doing at any time to play with him. You sit down and read him books. You build towers as fast as he can destroy them. You will go to great lengths to make him smile and he loves you for it! You are considerate of all your siblings and are quick to share. We were at the dr's office the other day and Walker couldn't find his blue crayon. The nurse gave you extra stickers because you took it upon yourself to dig around in your own crayon box to find one and give it to him. When we're out and about you are constantly seeing things that one of them might like yet you do not ask for things for yourself. I love your generous spirit!
You are content. It's a special gift you have been given to be content in your circumstances. When we pray at night and talk about what we should thank God for, you always say, "for all the things that we did today." I was discussing with you that we can pick out specific things to thank him for and then notice those things when we see them. You looked at me, somewhat dumbfounded at the thought of trying to pick out just ONE thing from the entire day. I think you don't have the highs and lows that other people experience so things don't stick out to you as much. You really are content where you are and find blessing in that. We sat at the hospital for 8+ hours the other day. You did your schoolwork, colored, people watched and just generally kept yourself entertained and not once did you complain. Not once. In fact, you had a pleasant demeanor the whole time. Contentment isn't a gift I'd had the opportunity to see in you until recently. You wear it very well.
You have always been kind and compassionate but this year has put those qualities to the test. As a firstborn, it's important to you to "do it right" so rest assured you've done it all flawlessly. Overnight, with no warning,  you were kicked out of your room, a retreat that you valued. You instantly were expected to share every single thing you have, including your parents, with a stranger. The entire world shifted to now revolve around helping someone that you'd never even met. You have handled it with more grace, compassion, and forgiveness than any one in this family. You have given everything you have with an open hand and cheerful heart. You've given it generously and with so much love that it puts me to shame. You wake up and each day is new; you don't hold on to the hurts or injustice from the day before. I didn't know how it was possible to really forgive and forget, but you do. Something precious of yours was intentionally broken and once that was apologized for, you haven't brought it up again. It was done. How many adults can forgive that way??
You continue to display your childlike faith that is encouraging and convicting to the adults blessed to be in your life and witness it. Just today, I asked you what you did at quiet time. You said you prayed to God and asked him to take the sin out of your  heart and put more love in it. Sweetie, you did that all on your own. I have not once discussed anything like that with you. That was the prompting of the Holy Spirit and you followed without question. I'm so proud of you!
 In a four year span, you acquired three siblings. Your life has been defined by change and you've rolled with it every time. This time, I see you starting to strain a bit.  And that's ok because our anthem right now is that "hard is where you grow." Hard still sort of stinks though, doesn't it??! But you know what, buddy, we would miss so much if we didn't follow God's plan for our family. As evidenced by your quiet time today, this change is drawing you into Him and there's nothing better for you than that. God is taking us on an adventure that is shaping you into a man that seeks God. And that's all we want for you. As much as your personality is perfectly suited to integrate Caroline into our family, her personality is perfectly suited to support and encourage you in a way your brothers couldn't.
When you're an adult it will be inconceivable to you to imagine what your life would have been without Caroline in it, your thoroughly accessorized partner in crime.  You told me God put Caroline in our family to give you a best friend.  :)

Harris, I am so thankful to have the honor of being your mom. Your kind and generous spirit is a blessing to me every day. And on top of that, you're just plain fun! I like hanging out with you and hearing your perspective on things. I love seeing you race up to me each morning with a huge hug and smile, ready to see what the day has to offer.  You are one special little boy and as much as I want to see who you grow up to be, I want time to slow way down because it is FLYING by.
 I have treasured the past six years and am so excited to watch what you do with the next six! I love you so much, sweet boy!!
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
Gal 5:22-23

Monday, November 25, 2013

But God.

Five months into this adoption and it's more obvious each day that adoption is messy. And hard. And why wouldn't it be? At its core is great loss. It impacts all it touches. A family member was in the hospital recently and I felt like I could get a tangible view of what Caroline is going through emotionally. 

He was in the ICU. It was so ugly. There were gaping, open, red wounds. People had things draining out of their bodies. One man died. No one there was allowed to do anything but rest.  It was a place for your body to recover yet it was so grim I almost fainted the first time I went back there. The healing was bloody. It was painful and messy. And so much slower than we want it to be.

Everyone there to support my family member was impacted. Though he was the one that had the trauma, it took a toll on all of us as we figured out how best to support him, both right then and in the days to come.  Everyone put their lives on hold and focused on nothing but what the patient needed.

That's exactly what our family is doing right now. One of our own has a trauma that would surely put her in the ICU if it were visible and it's taking all of our collective energies to support her as best we can. This just isn't easy and my selfish self wants easy so much. I just didn't know I had selfishness and laziness and ugliness like this inside me. It's not pretty. I read a devotional about the good Samaritan being moved by compassion to action when he saw the wounded traveler. It read: "Mercy must respond to the wreckage it sees."

I have been mulling that one over. Mercy must respond to the wreckage that it sees.  I see wreckage. And because God is mercy I must be merciful. And mercy responds. But I myself am not merciful. Not nearly as merciful as the wreckage I see requires. 
Let me be clear. My daughter is not wreckage. She is the daughter of a King, a child perfectly made in the image of God. What has happened to her and the trauma she is battling; that is wreckage. SHE has been precisely formed, down to her innermost being. She is exactly as she should be. 
God sees an opportunity in her to display his glory becuase he's not tied to what our wisdom thinks. Four years ago, the premier adoption specialists in the world said a child over five can't heal.
Today, it is proven that that isn't true.
Of course it's not!  God came to restore.
And I see Him doing it every day.

And every day is see more clearly that I am incapable of such a task. But God. He is capable.
But God. Those are my favorite words right now. But God.

If anyone, including me, looked at Caroline's past on paper you would never, ever match that up to the precious little girl you meet. 
History says one thing......but God. :).  

I look at what is on the agenda every day and I think there is no possible way to do it. And there really isn't.
But God. :)

I fail my kids. Every. Single. Day.  Only by the grace of God do their sweet little voices tell me they love me and their chubby little arms wrap around my neck.

As I write this, I'm not even sure why I'm writing this. Maybe just to say it's hard. It is really insanely difficult and I botch it numerous times a day. But God is good. He takes my meager attempts and multiplies it into the love they need and the affection and time that they need. I am so thankful today that He is a God of multiplication. I can no longer read the story in Harris' Bible of the boy with the fish and bread that fed 5,000 without getting choked up because He still does those miracles. When read in simple language it is easier for me to relate how it happens now, right under my nose.

 God is so, so good. He gives good gifts.  

That's been a theme for me lately. He's showing me some of the ways that he gives GOOD gifts.
All of the following are my sweet good gifts. Two sweet friends trained (pushed!) me every weekend to get through the chosen half. One sweet friend had an out of town commitment but has been with me every step of the way. My other friend ran it with me and encouraged me in every way possible. 

We all went camping together and I was so touched by how every kid embraced Caroline without a second thought. Caroline loved being a part of it, Harris loved hanging with his buds, and I was reminded once again how sweet God is and how far he goes ahead of us to meet needs we never saw coming. 

There's one of my sweet gifts probably looking for her beloved Cheetos. :)

God is sending people to do this this with us. A woman, a godly, great, woman that I had never met comes over weekly just to hang out with my people. She brought cupcakes to decorate. She brought a Christmas activity for them to give them a visual of the spiritual gifts God gives us. She has played candy land, admired everyone's bedroom, and was wearing a hello kitty beanie at one point.  Let me reiterate, I had NEVER met this woman. She just heard our story and wanted to give of her time to love on our kids. The last time she came I'd had to apologize to my kids for using an unkind voice. That's humbling. I'd spent the morning crying off and on because it was just that kind of day. Then, we get a breath of fresh air, someone to love on my kids and remind me that one of God's great gifts is redemption and forgiveness of sins. Do I ever need both! That brings me to another point.

She heard of our story because of a therapy group Caroline is involved in. A free, church sponsored, AMAZING therapy group. Caroline can now more clearly identify her feelings than I can my own, I think. When I had to apologize to them for using an unkind voice, she was fascinated with that.  I don't think she'd had an adult apologize to her before. She unpacked it from every angle..
 "Mommy, how were you feeling when you chose to use an unkind voice?"
 "It wasn't MY fault that you chose that. That was your own poor decision"
"Mommy, you didn't obey God when you chose to use an unkind voice."

Those are just the ones I remember. That was definitely not my best day and I am thankful she could dissect it and see it for what it was; an adult's lack of self control. Parenting is so humbling.

Another woman that I do not know has committed to tutoring her three times/week! For free.She's a reading specialist who moved here after the school year started, so she isn't working. She is also enamored with Caroline. It does her heart so good to see someone regularly that loves her. She committed to this before we had even met!  Who but God could orchestrate that? Again, there it is! But God.

This thanksgiving season there is so much to be thankful for and at the same time life is heavy right now. It's a daily battle in a way I have never faced. I am more aware than ever that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." 

But God. :)
For I am convinced that neither death, 
nor life, 
nor angels,
nor principalities, 
nor things present, 
nor things to come, 
nor powers, 
nor height, 
nor depth, 
nor any other created thing, 
will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - 
Romans 8:38-39

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Getting settled in

Since Caroline literally came overnight, we were left scrambling to figure out the room situation for everyone. It felt like someone just played 52 card pickup with our lives and the first order of business was to give everyone a place to put their things so we could establish some stability and move forward. We decided the best thing to do was to give her Harris' room and move him to our bonus room. There were several problems with that, though. The first issue was that he adored his room and we felt pretty bad booting him out of it with no warning. The second problem was that the bonus room was currently Tom's office/our guest room/dumping ground.

We didn't really have a choice but to go ahead and tackle it. So after we put the kids to bed we worked several hours a night to get it ready. We had promised Harris a cool room in exchange for being kicked out of his overnight. This is what it looked like for awhile. I kept repeating to myself that it must look worse before it gets better.


Here is what it looks like now. He insisted I take a picture of the door.

Much better, right? The pink chair was my grandmother's and I love it but we have no other place for it right now. So it's staying. Everything else is all little boy fun and functional. It's usually wall to wall covered in Legos. There is also a full sized bed up there for a guest to use and the world's smallest bathroom is there as well. It's a cool set-up for a little person and he loves it. When the other boys get a little older they'll be moving in there too. 

We also wanted to give Caroline a place to call home but at that time we had no idea if she was actually staying. She could have left at any moment since we had no legal claim to her. It was such an odd situation. We grabbed furniture off Craigslist the day after she came home and she picked out bedding but we didn't do anything else with her room until we knew for sure she wasn't going anywhere. She'd never had a bedroom before and was thrilled with what she had so she was content with that. However, once we knew she was for sure staying, we fixed it up for her. She loves her room and shows it to everyone that walks through the door.

Caroline's favorite part of her room is her name on the wall. The boys each have their names on their wall and she wanted hers up too. When we put it up she was just learning her letters and couldn't spell her name. Now, she writes her name all the time, on everything, and is so proud to have her own room with her own name.

Everyone settled in their own spots have freed up time to start putting other things back in order too. I have basically ignored everything the past 5 months except meeting the basic needs right in front of me. There just hasn't been an opportunity to get ahead of this snowball of four children and all the chaos that came with adoption. Especially one that was so sudden.  We have just been juggling many balls lately and it feels like we're at a place where there aren't as many things up in the air right now. Hopefully those aren't famous last words. :)

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky (Philippians 2:14, 15 NIV)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Holding fast.....

I've been all over the map the past couple of weeks. Really, not just the past couple of weeks. Since we started homeschooling, I've been struggling with the feeling that it's not enough for Harris. Academically, I know his needs are met. I really enjoy watching them both learn and seeing them "get" something is rewarding. It's fun! My hang up is that I want Harris to have more friends.  I don't have those concerns about Caroline because her greatest need right now is connecting with our family. Caroline's abundant (but understandable) emotional needs take a toll and it has been difficult to try to meet that for her as well as do the other things that everyone else needs.

 I've researched every single school option under the sun. 
I KNOW homeschooling was laid out for us this year because of the changes in our family. It just hasn't been clear to me what that should look like. Is this for all our kids, just some of them, or now that Caroline is academically caught up, do I send them both to school this very second??? There are certainly days when I would love to do that. Especially because the past couple of weeks everyone has had some form of a virus, so no one is their chipper self. Hayes even took a trip to the ER, but he's fine.  Here's his before and after. 

None of the other kids had it that bad but enough to make us all edgy. We were on a walk the other day and I greeted a neighbor I hadn't seen in months with the very uplifting, "How is it only 11 am!??!!?" She ran away from us, bless her heart.  There have been several days of frustration lately and we need a change. We were holding it together but by a thread. Any stress on the situation and it falls apart and my first instinct is to abandon homeschooling completely. But we never felt totally right with any of the school options for the unique situation we are in right now.

I FINALLY feel like there is some sense to this. I was praying for some direction and specifically a friend for Harris. God showed me he has provided the most wonderful friend and community in our own home. Harris and Caroline have built in companionship and community in each other. I truly just didn't see it because that's not what friendships usually look like. I was thinking of play dates and class parties. God has something better. He desires to give both of them deep, lasting, sibling relationships that need time and nurture to grow.  God is so good. I don't want any of us to miss His best for us by being satisfied with something less, just because it's familiar. Literally overnight, we adopted a 5 yr old. This just isn't a normal situation and sometimes our life will look different than what I see around us. I'm still coming to terms with that.

They have so much fun together. They encourage each other and are constantly coming up with new things to do. Caroline is learning how to throw a football and Harris has spent more time creating artwork in the past four months than his entire life combined. They do puzzles together, crack each other up with making silly faces, and get excited to see who predicts correctly when we're doing a science experiment.  They do art and P.E classes with a group and they love that too. It's a good balance for us right now.

They just couldn't lay this groundwork for relationship if one of both were gone all day. So, I'm settled again. This is what we're doing (for this year, anyway) and I'm staying the course. Tom has sweetly ridden this emotional roller coaster with me. However, I'm sure he will be thrilled to know the ride seems to be over, for now. We go around the table at dinner and everyone says their favorite part of the day. Both of them regularly say their favorite part of the day is homeschool, even on days when they've participated in other things. That is a tremendous comfort to me. Coming to the realization that this isn't working as well as it could is also a huge comfort. We're getting some regular help to make things go more smoothly. That sentence doesn't adequately convey how thrilled and relieved I am to get some backup!!!  

I'd like to see more picnics outside.

And less of this. 
Honestly. Much less of this.

Walker isn't getting left out. :) He needs preschool for a variety of reasons. The 12 hours he spends there each week are invaluable to him. There's plenty of time leftover for him to hang.  

One other thing that is changing my life right now is simple. It's as simple as rubbing Walker's feet. He's too wound up after school to take a nap but too tired to have any semblance of good behavior. If I massage his feet, his little eyes just roll back in his head and he's out. He is refreshed when he wakes up and we can all enjoy each others company instead of just trying to make it till bedtime. It doesn't sound like much but it has completely changed the dynamic in our house on those days. Who doesn't feel better when they're rested?? He is going to be outrageously spoiled with that but it's worth it. My apologies to his future wife. 
Props to anyone who hung on to read this rambling post.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."
Heb 10:23

Friday, September 20, 2013

The New Normal

    We're still here, all adjusting to what life looks like as a family of 6.

Having a girl around has broadened the boys' horizons. Caroline is so enthusiastic about her purse that Walker went through a stage of carrying a "purse" too.

That is some decorative metal thing from my bathroom. Harris wants to be involved in anything happening, so he learned a new skill too.
 Hayes just wants to do everything the big kids do. Dress up, wash his hands, maybe even both at the same time.

Here is everyone dressed up. This makes me laugh because the boys are a mess and Caroline stayed focused on striking a pose.

Hayes went through a stage of insisting on using a fork like everyone else. It took roughly 20 hours for him to eat one meal.

I got to take Harris on a date to the Lego store. That sweet boy thanked me for taking him several times. He just looked and looked at all the lego creations and was so content, not asking for anything. I told him before we got there that we wouldn't but anything and he said ok, just to let him know if I changed my mind. :) The only thing he did request was a lego set he thought Walker might like for his birthday. I don't think anyone on the planet has a bigger heart than this boy.

We officially started homeschool. Here are my kindergartners!!

Oh my goodness, it was rough starting out. It's pretty common knowledge in adoption that there is a honeymoon period which is immediately followed by meltdowns of epic proportions. Our school year starting coincided with the honeymoon period ending. It was rough on all of us and I definitely wanted to throw in the towel. However, we got through this part. I think we came out stronger on the other side and doing school at home helped. I really have no idea how long we'll do this but for this year I definitely see the benefit for our situation and why we were called to it. It had nothing to do with Harris and everything to do with a child we didn't yet know was ours.

I went to an adoption conference recently and am enamored with Dr. Karyn Purvis. She is a Christian, but is secular and data-driven in her approach to healing children with trauma. She says nothing that isn't backed up by quantifiable data but also points out that there is nothing new under the sun. She says her research is just science catching up to God and that her methods are the heart of God. She doesn't even have to profess her faith because it oozes out her pores and her message is the gospel in its entirety, without ever quoting scripture. She is a developmental psychologist (or psychiatrist?) with 40+ years of experience. She has devoted her life to healing children "from hard places." Our girl is certainly from a hard place. I absolutely buy into the methods she advocates because I see the truth in our experience. However, her methods are so hard to implement. The information was encouraging in the message that no child is too old or has seen too much but sobering in the confirmation that this mess is deep and hard and long. I won't detail the specifics because they are google-able if you're interested. The take-away is that our God is in the business of redemptions and restoration and examines the methods He uses for that. What struck me over and over again was how God has abundantly provided for me, and our family, far more than I ever asked. It was put on my heart years ago to adopt and I've prayed for it for it all this time. I never once asked for support when we adopted. Not one time. I didn't even know we would need it. I have 4 close friends, that I can be real and authentic with, who are adoptive/foster parents. They DAILY encourage me. He's also given friends that support me in many other ways, who I love dearly. Shout out, Amanda, Megan, and Retta!!
Caroline has four younger biological siblings that were also adopted by families in San Antonio. These families are now my family and these women are my people. We have a running text message where anything goes. We meet for coffee and stay till midnight, laughing and crying and praying. I didn't know two of the moms when this got going but they let me (and my FOUR KIDS) come to their houses so Caroline could see where each child slept, because it mattered to her. It's inconceivable to me to imagine this journey without this amazing support group. Every person that spoke of their adoption story at this conference emphasized the importance of finding community because it's far too difficult to do alone. God gave us that in abundance and I never once asked.

I've been thinking through this verse lately. (Because it was in my Bible study that is awesome. Email me if you're interested!)
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
John 1:12

We have been given the right to be adopted but it's on us what we choose to do with that right. I realize more than ever what a daily, minute by minute, decision that is to choose to be in a family. Caroline is ours. She is a Goolsby. She has a room in our house and a place at our table. She goes everywhere we go but we can never make her be in this family. We cannot make her choose us to be her people. She has to decide to participate in our activities and submit to our authority and embrace our ways. When I think about why she might want to do that, I think about how God wins our hearts. He wins our love with abundant, extravagant, overwhelming love and provision.

I didn't even know to ask for support in this journey because I was too ignorant to know I would need it. However, God provided it in astounding ways. Caroline doesn't know what to ask us for because she is a child that lived almost 6 years in a 2 room condo. She has no knowledge or perspective to know what she needs or would enjoy. It's on us to provide sacrificial love to her because that is what was given to us and we have a greater understanding of her needs than she does. The parallels of this situation are enough to knock me over, as I go through the day to day and see how challenging it all is when played out in this real world scenario.  Adoption is both beautiful and painful at precisely the same time. Caroline is choosing to be a part of our family but her heartbreak over what she has lost is almost a physical presence, it's so acute for her. It's hard for her to embrace the new while still grieving the old. While I'll never understand what she's going through, I do understand having a foot in two worlds. I yearn for the kingdom of heaven because I envision how much better it is but at the same time I hold so tightly to what is in this world. I am in no way comparing  being in our family to the kingdom of heaven. :) I just see that she has been freed from the difficulty of her past but there are things of her past that she wants to bring with her. Some are good, and we see her biological siblings as often as we can. I am so thankful that we can do that!! Some are not good, but they are all she knows and they're hers.

I guess what I want to say is that God relentlessly pursues us and gives us abundantly more than we would ever even know to ask him for. He takes the bad from us to give us the good, even though it feels like we're losing all that is precious. Adoption is difficult for everyone it touches but daily there are little (and sometimes big!) moments that can only be orchestrated by a loving, intimate, personal Father that meets us exactly where we are.

For example, Tom adores tomatoes. On our first date, he was nervous, I guess,  and went into a soliloquy about the greatness of tomatoes. It was a running joke with us. The first time we ever gave Caroline a tomato, she was equally as excited. Isn't that random!?!?!? Have you ever in your life heard people cheer tomatoes like they were cookies covered in ice cream? There are many other ways God has confirmed that Caroline is for us but that's one of my favorites.  I will always associate tomatoes with this situation. If we're having a rough day I give her a tomato to hear her go on about how much she loves them. :) God is in the details, for sure, and I'm so thankful. I write all this to remind myself what God has done for me and in turn what my response should be.

I'm worn thinner than I've ever been but at the same time I'm blown away with all that has so freely been given to me. Caroline and her 4 yr old sister point to things primarily with their middle finger. In honor of that, the adoptive families have named ourselves the Unicorns. :) Really, who wouldn't want to hang with this crew??
Go Unicorns!

For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.” - Ezekial 36:25