Character {when no one else is looking}

Some of my favorite quotes on character were spoken by one of the most revered coaches in the history of sports John Wooden who coached UCLA basketball from the 40′s to the 70′s. He was a devout Christian and family man–and quotes like his are the reason I will probably never write a book. It’s already been said better than I ever could. Love these quotes of his on character–something I want to teach my children is more important than anything they will learn in books…

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?”

“Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.”

After a week of watching…people watching is my little quiet hobby I do in between changing diapers and homeschool…I’ve been reflecting on character. I’ve invited my kids in these past few weeks to step back with me and just watch. We live in a culture where teachable moments are around every corner if we just slow down and watch together–and then process them with our children.

What did you think about what you heard him say? How do you think it made the other person feel? Do you think they would have said that to someone they loved? Do you think they would have done that if they knew we were watching?

Then we have talked and reflected on other choices–and challenged ourselves to think about…our own lives. Are there things I might not say or do if I knew someone else was watching? THIS. This is character.

So Wednesday…

We arrived to a local nature center type place where they were having a camp for kids. Precious little ones ran in the museum area with their counselors just as we were looking at a few treasures behind the glass. I stood back…wondering. I wonder if all these counselors love–I mean really love the kids and their job.

That thought had hardly passed when I saw a little guy the same age as one of my little kindergarden loves. He had eyed this pretty cool stone rock with citrine quartz crystals forming on the outside. I’ll give it to the kid. It was luring. My kids had touched it earlier–and then I saw the “do not touch” sign beside so I whispered to them to just look and they moseyed on. I mean–what kids just wants to LOOK;)?

So this little love has been entrusted into the camp care–with possibly money carefully budgeted by his mom to cover a day camp to build character, confidence–and to have fun. He is enticed by the beauty of this rock. WHO wouldn’t be–I mean…my kids certainly were. So what does he do? You got it. He touches it. And then…my heart–BROKE.

“DO. NOT. Touch. KID. Can you READ???”

Maybe I’m sensitive because I have a child who was a struggling reader at his age. Maybe I’m sensitive because I’m a mom. Maybe I’m sensitive because I saw the little boy’s face when she said those words. And I stood there. Watching. Listening. When she thought…no one else was. Character.

I really am the type of person who just listens and minds my own business. Really–I am. But if you say something loud enough where I can hear–directed to a little person who can’t defend themselves–well, then Biblically…we have to defend those who can’t defend themselves especially when it means at the cost of hurt hearts (big or small).

My Laney stood there beside me–watching too. And I first made it an opportunity for my littles to learn. Leading them through thought provoking questions about what they observed. Could the counselor hear me? Well–of course. But my first ministry is to always mold my children–to encourage that little boy who was motherless at the moment–and then to her. I’m sure she would have worded things differently had she known I was listening. But she didn’t. Character.

And then. I think deeper.

About. ME. At home. As a mom.

One of my prayers has always been for the Lord to shape me and help me to be a woman of true, noble character when others are looking–and when they are not.

I remember that my God is always with me…He is always there…always watching–not like a judge with a buzzer (although in fact He is the most High Judge)–but rather He is there because He loves ME and He always loves whoever might be in the room with me.

Help me Lord to always do the right thing–even when no one else is looking.

We should be the same player on and off the field. And my hope for that counselor is that she really is the same player on and off the field because I would be really worried if she wasn’t. How might she really treat someone when there was really no one around? Who knows. And that–that is what really isn’t my business. I have to look into my own heart and life and ask the Lord to help make me consistent as if a great cloud of witnesses was right there surrounding me cheering me on to Christlikeness in every circumstance–at home, in my van, in the aisle at Target…everywhere. Because character matters. My kids matter. Whoever I say things to–they matter. They matter so much more regardless of who is there listening. The same on and off the field. Character.

While this blog is on CHARACTER–I’m going to take a quick parenting moment to say an application to this character challenge…

I’m going through a season of parenting right now with one of my younger children who melts A LOT. There are daily moments–where I am tempted to scream, say something unkind, say something that HAPPENS to be true at the moment (maybe like that counselor–maybe he couldn’t read)–but truth that doesn’t actually need to be spoken. I get it. Maybe my child having tantrums IS acting like a baby. BUT–speaking that truth will not change him or build him up, and it doesn’t always (or most of the time) need to be spoken. For us as parents–nothing will try the patience of a mom like a struggling child who is having a tantrum at 2 years old or 16. But this–this can be a true test of character–an opportunity to struggle myself or an opportunity to build it.

So what do you need to speak?? A wise mom once told me to treat my child who is struggling like the child I want him to become. And THAT changes everything. It builds my character processing who I want my child to become, processing together what probably should have happened and giving a challenge for what we will do next time.

Character is treating people the same no matter their outer appearance. It is looking at people the way the Lord looks at them. Choosing to look at the heart–EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

So another observance of character was on a mommy-and-me date last night.

We got to a really nice Mexican restaurant and sat down next to two couples with 1 year olds. I’ve been there. I get it. But I don’t get what I observed next.

The two babies had made an awful mess on the floor as well as all over the table and in their high chairs. I can’t imagine anyone allowing this to happen in their own home–and if you did–I’m sure you most certainly cleaned it up or maybe even let the dog help clean it up. We watched–observed. And they got up to leave. They even paused to take a picture with their iPhones laughing at the mess they had made…and LEFT.

Character.

Character is treating people the same no matter their appearance. Character is treating other people how you want to be treated. Character is leaving things better than you found them–every time.

So the waiters came over–and I watched their shoulders droop. Laney and I watched their discouragement as they cleaned. And we walked over to talk to them and encourage them–and before it was over their spirits were uplifted. And we also took a picture;)

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UM. Y’all.

I don’t think so.

Would you leave the table like this if you were visiting your sister’s restaurant and she was your server? (Treat people the same no matter their appearance). Would you leave this mess at your friend’s house? Or what about your house?

Now being the mommy of 5 children ages 9 and under–I get there are some times you HAVE to run. I get that!! But their is a cost to leaving a table like this (not the $10 tip this waiter got from a table of 4 adults and 2 messy babies)! If you are in a pickle and you must run leaving behind a mess–and you do treat the server as you would for say–your sister at your sister’s restaurant–you would most certainly honor her with an “I’m sorry and You ROCK” note–and a $50 bill. If you can’t leave leave a $50 bill–then just clean up the mess and leave the floor like you found it, just as you would at your own house. No one will ever see this–your cleaning up or your choice to leave it a mess. Most likely your servers all open the folder with the tip or return to clean the table after you leave. But this is character…even when no one is looking.

On the farm we have been so blessed by our older neighbor Mr. Burt. It took us WEEKS to figure out how in the world the grass over the fence on our property close to the road was getting cut. Finally–one day…I caught him. For two months Mr. Burt had been cutting this thin sliver of grass that mind you adds 15 minutes to his mowing. I ran out. Asked him what on earth he was doing…

“Well ma’am. I saw you use a riding mower–and I’d never seen a push mower–and I thought to myself, she’ll never be able to safely cut that grass without a push mower. So every time I cut mine–I cut yours. Folks have to look out for each other.”

Character.

And just like that. I saw character. He didn’t need a thank you. Or a note in the mailbox. He didn’t even need to know my name. He had treated me the way he would had I been his sister or mom–and done it when no one was looking. No recognition needed. A sacrifice for him. But left a place better than when he found it.

This too–I need to always point out to my children and reflect on as well. Because really–there are just as many examples of men and women with good character. And reflecting on these with my children as well challenges me to think of good things to do–and to do them…and thats where James 4:17 is tricky because what we each SHOULD do will look different for everyone. But how beautiful it is when we ask the Lord to make us men and women of good character—blessing not only our lives but the lives of everyone’s lives we so miraculously get to be a part of as well.

May you be men and women of strong, godly, admirable, true and good character. What a gift we can give our children as we run to this goal together!

Andrea:)

July 26, 2014 - 9:04 am

Jennifer OCain - Andrea this is such a great post on character and I will be sharing this! Thank you for encouraging me on ways to be a better mom too!

Here lately {experiencing the fruit of a slower life}

We have started to settle in with this old place really feeling like home. My only regret is that we didn’t move to the country sooner. Some wouldn’t consider this country at all with a small grocery just 3 miles away and a few more a hop, skip and jump of 5 miles farther.

Our new place…(my how the kids are growing up…aren’t they?!)

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We were in a neighborhood before. One that I thought was quite–before this.

A sweet neighborhood…but one full of far too many limitations for the childhood experience I dreamed giving to my children. We live in a different culture than my generation was raised in. Leaving the children to ride bikes in the coulda sac in front of our wasn’t even an option after a stranger made his appearance in an old car with his license plate covered with a paper bag…slowing down enough to ask one of my most precious gifts for “directions”. Scary. Okay–so that coulda sac freaked me out ever sense that crazy incident.

Neighbors and the relationships we had there were also quite different than the ones we had growing up…when neighbors earned the title of “Aunt Debbie” or “Mammaw”…because they might as well be family.

We tried and tried…and sat out in that coulda sac for far too many years…with the only kids riding in circles–being ours. And we dreamed of more. If not here–then on a farm or land where they could at least run and just be kids. (DISCLAIMER: Many years ago–we had the SWEET experience of living in a neighborhood with SWEET community. Now if you have that–that is flat out AWESOME> Do not–repeat…DO NOT move;). BUT–for us–we might as well have been on a farm with the lack of community–which was another dream of ours–so here we find ourselves…quiet–but without the neighbors dog growling at me freaking me out. Okay–so y’all might actually get some hilarious stories from our old hood now that we are gone. Seriously–there are some good ones.)

I’m thankful.

And oh my the stories we have already created!

Hatching our own chicks with only Barbara the lone chicken making it. Buying more chicks and those suckers living in our basement for 6 weeks. Did you hear that. SIX weeks. Building them a coop from scratch–just me and Rico suave.

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Oh my–I did show you the hatching didn’t I?!

Crazy amazing to watch. And then–something awful happened. Another blog for another day–and only 1 lived…but I learned a lot about egg hatching…like next time I’ll buy the chicks already hatched–and momma hens are the ones that hatch best.

And then…getting a dog…which has proved to keep the ground hogs and possums away. Did I tell you we bought a trap for a creature living under our porch and caught the biggest opossum you have ever laid eyes on?

Oh bless. Let me see if I can find a picture for you.

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Oh yes. That is who was living under our porch for weeks. But after the trap–and after Oreo…we are critter free.

And you MUST meet Oreo. (Y’all. I am NOT a dog person. But this ole boy might be making me one!)

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Okay…so there was sadness to leave our old place knowing we were leaving our fruit trees. We planted them 4 years ago and this would have started to see fruit. But oh were we in for a treat!! GET THIS. Lots of pears, apples and even grapes started coming out as soon as our bags were unpacked! And one day this week we picked two baskets of pears! (I felt like…y’all don’t laugh at me…but I felt like it was just a little sweet kiss from heaven saying He knows even the littlest things we love…and He wants to show us how much He cares for us.)

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Now…it’s time to make pear preserves. (If you have a good recipe–please send it to me!!)

I said I never wanted a pool with kids. BUT.

There’s a pool in the back…and the kids think even better the big creek they like to swim in behind the house in the woods.

And I’m seeing the perks to a pool (minus needing a new pump and other things that hit us as soon as we unpacked our bags. BUT–overall–it’s SO worth it!)

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There’s little traffic. Which for kids–no neighborhood and no traffic or other kids–also means no ice cream truck. But as things would turn out–we met a young man who drives an ice cream truck (thank you Amy for this!!) and is paying for his college with the money he earns. We actually schedule his visits now…so come Wednesdays–they know to be in the front front pasture instead of the back as they play to wait for that sound every child loves.

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Sure there are snakes–but Oreo takes care if that for us with his barking. And some how he has gotten used to the chickens, wild turkey and deer. I foresee goats, a pig and maybe a donkey in our future. Rich laughs at my ideas for what will join us next.

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We may be farther out to some–but it’s so worth the experience for the children. And for us too.

Ever be afraid to follow the quiet dreams of your heart!!

They just might be the things that draw you closer to The Lord and to the hearts of those you love most.

Okay…soooo–I’m offically baaaaaaack to blogging:) Just a few pictures from our summer! If you follow me on Instagram (andreapyoung) you have already seen these! (I’m a little over the top at posting pics over there!!) BUT–here’s a few of my summer favorites taken from my phone:)!

So if you’ve missed us…here’s a little love from our family what we’ve been up to all summer. (Y’all know I love some crafts! Soooo…if you see something you’d like a tutorial on—just say so and I

And just to be REAL–because if you’ve read my blog for awhile–you know while pictures and updates may make things look perfect–every beautiful thing comes with it’s challenges too! This momma has faced a few this summer but thank goodness for the Lord’s strength–His grace is sufficient!! Things are wonderful, but many moms don’t always blog the hard stuff especially when it has to do with a child to protect their privacy–but trust me…we have had our set of challenges this summer:). So—as always if you ever have questions, a prayer request or just need to share with another momma–please feel free to contact me through my contact page!! Remember how fast this sweet time does go by–and to slow down each day and love those babies the best you can through His strength!!

Blessings!!

Andrea

July 25, 2014 - 11:04 pm

Melanie - Love this Andrea. Love your heart and what God has done in your lives!

The things I missed… {the heart of adoption}

Getting the email from my adoption agency to send them my son’s Certificate of Citizenship meant heading to “the sacred file”. The file, us adoption moms, store in safety boxes, in sacred places–jammed full with millions of papers it took to get our child home–and important papers with shiny stickers saying here is their new…forever.

Going through “the sacred file”–is never fast.

You start flipping…looking for that one document…and pictures fall out.

Tiny pieces of their stories.

With so many gaps in between.

I sit there reading the reports…”the” newspaper clipping that you want to hide–the last hope to find the one who brought this little miracle to the world–flipping through these papers that are just pieces of loss after loss. Their life changed forever…and yours too when you felt in your heart your family was to grow through adoption.

I rub my finger on that little first picture.

And I’m mad.

I’m mad that the FIRST picture (or rather–the first picture I have…they were able to document) was taken far longer than a momma ever would.

Yet I’m thankful. Thankful to have a handful of pictures from a few weeks to 2 years before he was in my arms. But just a few pictures–of two years…and so much I missed.

If I’d only known–I would’ve flown around the world to hold him–I would have moved us there…anything to have the gaps filled. And yet–there is still so much I still miss.

And what I miss–is what I know he will miss. And they are the things I can’t ever…”unmiss”…or fill.

I’m a mom to children both by birth and adoption. And there are things that DO feel differently–things I will always miss…that they will miss…and maybe always long for.

A dear friend asked me a deep, hard question about the difference a momma feels when children are brought through adoption, birth, foster…these are things our family has experienced. And the LOVE. The love for them–truly is no different. I’m a momma bear when it comes to all my babies. Even the ones that no longer live with us because it was temporary to begin with (hosting/foster). Each connection different and unique…just as my connection to each of my parents or grandparents are each so different. But my love for all my babies is fierce…as a momma’s love should be.

But the differences…they are still there.

And they break me and make me long over and over and over again.

I have sweet memories of every moment for my first children. Feeling their kicks inside me for 9 months. Imagining what they’d look like as we compared ultrasound pictures. Any mom who has experienced birth can’t deny the unbelievable, powerful connection she feels the moment that first cry is heard. All of the sudden–your heart is outside your body being held by this doctor…and so desperately you want the words to come out, “GIVE HIM TO ME!” as if you won’t be able to breath without this new one in your arms. And then the weight of 8 pounds rests…and you can breath again–and the world stands still.

This.

This I missed with my 4th and 5th.

These babies by birth–they learned to drop their head on my chest. They knew my voice. I was their safe place. From first boo-boos and falls–I could pick them up and the crying would stop…which some times made daddy absolutely crazy.

We’d nap together following the wise words “sleep when the baby sleeps”…and connections were made that first year through many a nap–and cheering behind the camera at every funny face and milestone.

I knew the funny faces.

And oh MY–some times…in pictures–we’d compare my baby pictures or Richard’s and squeal with delight at little expressions that were similar.

All the while–deeper connections were made. Reminders of us at their age. Not only in these moments for baby–as every baby loves to be cheered for. But in these moments connections were also being made for me–as mom.

I shake myself out of the wishing and wondering.

Yes–yes…yes, I know it’s late. I need to just run upstairs and scan this “Certificate of Citizenship” for this lady and go to bed.

But right now–I can’t. It’s not always that simple. Before life moves on, some times I just have to be still in this place instead.

I sit there.

And I grieve.

I grieve the not being there.

I grieve how much I want to be an instant safe place. Wishing it came more naturally–because I know and feel the difference…and how I’m still working on being that for them.

It’s not his fault that it isn’t always easy. Or mine…that we have to work harder and have more to work through.

I grieve that there are so many expressions and faces…and his toes–his quirky little, sweet toes–I’ll never know whose they resemble.

I catch my breath and the tears just fall. Because some times. It just doesn’t feel fair. Mostly for him. But can I say–for me too? I wish I knew. I wish I had been there. I wish I had the stories for all the gaps.

I wish the hard medical things that happen in the brain when a child enters flight or fight because they have been abandoned or removed from a biological mom didn’t happen…and here we spend hour upon hour in our daily working through sensory things–that are so important…and that also drive me crazy as a mom too…because I don’t know why or always understand why they are there. (Coming from a mom with a biological child with sensory stuff–I get this in a different way–because for these boys…the grief is present when the sensory is often present…making the dailies often just feel harder wanting to be so sensitive and hoping–just hoping I’m doing it right.)

The boo boos are different…and I have to teach them a momma can be the one to run to. A momma can help kiss them and rock and make things just a little bit better…if you let them. But the letting us–that’s the thing we know that can take weeks or even years (and some times never) to happen.

I know the things I miss–will one day be the things my boys will also miss and long for themselves…and right now it just doesn’t make sense as they learn to be deeply cared for. Having a little one who will fall in your arms and naturally trust you is a million times different than building the trust with one that doesn’t even know it’s okay at first to cry.

So yes…it is different. But my love for all my loves—is true.

I learn how to love my husband deeply who isn’t biologically related to me–but our hearts are deeply connected. And I’m deeply committed to him and all of my children no matter how the Lord let them become mine.

I just wish I had the moments.

I wish could fill the gaps.

I wish I could have been there to let that little head that didn’t have the strength to be held up on it’s own just fall on my chest…and learn trust from the beginning.

And I march upstairs with that certificate in my hand.

I scan it.

And I send it to her.

The hoops now–are just hoops.

And I’m just thankful he is home.

And he is mine.

I may have missed the beginning, but I’m here for the rest of forever. And If I could only have one–I’d choose forever every time.

July 11, 2014 - 2:36 am

Stacy - I fully relate to wishing for those lost moments! Your post made me think of these words I hung on before our adoption was complete… “But I find comfort in the truth that God has known you. He has known when you sit and when you rise. He perceives your thoughts from afar. He discerns your going out and your lying down. He is familiar with all your ways. Before a word is on your tongue He knows it completely. He has hemmed you in – behind and before, and His hand is upon you.” Bless you Andrea!

July 11, 2014 - 8:19 am

Kelly - What a beautiful post! A now absolute favorite of mine. <3

July 11, 2014 - 8:58 am

Erin - A friend just sent me your blog and here I am crying because I literally just wrote about many of these things on my blog. It is so, so different. The love is there but children from hard places require a special type of parenting and love. It has sure stretched me and made me realize that what I did with my first (bio)three can’t be done with my fourth. I, too, grieve all that was missed. It’s hard. Hugs to you momma!

July 12, 2014 - 9:43 am

admin - .

July 12, 2014 - 10:03 am

Billie Hobbs - Oh, Andrea, my heart aches for your pain – a mother’s pain that only a mother can feel. Just concentrate on the today and tomorrow. How very blessed those boys are to have been given the pleasure of calling you “Mommy” FOREVER. I know I have said it before, but I have no doubt that you are one of God’s special angels here on earth to love and nurture those who need it so badly. I am thankful to call you friend.

After July 4th {Blogging is so yesterday. BUT. I’m about to start writing again.}

OH MY. It’s been awhile. 4 weeks since I blogged. BUT. I think I’m going to start blogging again. Yes. I know it’s out;). Who blogs any more? But I’m a writer and I miss it–and it’s a good way for this momma to process AND it’s a good way for me to document our crazy…so I think I may be back y’all. Or you. Thinking there may be just 1 or 2 that happen upon this as blogs aren’t read much these days.

BUT. Little “a-ha”‘s keep happening. Those things I grow from. And I love to document those. So–I think I’m going to start writing again. At least a few times a week!! For myself at least!!

So. July 4th has passed—but we decided to take the kids to Stone Mountain Park today. They have the same firework show on July 3, 4 AND 5th. SO–we while we have a LONG list of “to-do’s” at the farm–we decided to drop the list and take off. So glad we did.

We got there at 11am–and left at 11pm. Oh my. Thought we’d be home for dinner. BUT we decided to stay for the final fireworks show. I told Rich we needed to make the most of it as he was asking should we go home for dinner or stay until dark. (It’s an hour drive to the farmhouse from this park by the way.) I said, “We might as well!! Live for the moment. Live today to the fullest…we won’t ever have this day back.” (Because really–we knew we had a million things we needed to get back for!! Feeding the chickens;). Finish painting Parker’s room. Oh the list goes on. And he laughed and said, “You have been saying that EVERY DAY for the last 11 years Andrea since we got married. When have we NOT lived a day to the fullest?” Oh my. So of course we stayed:).

And today was so much fun.

And this. This is the part I had to document. The fireworks. I had this mommy moment.

The laser light show had just finished—a 30 minute spectacular show…full of history and lots of music—and a full 30 minutes of watching Zeke dance. For EVERY sone he would turn around and say, “MOMMA! Dis is my favorite song!” And then dance something that looked like interpretive dance to it. Oh how I could gobble him up!! (Lest you think things are perfect–they aren’t always. He had his 2nd wind and I gave him candy. Some times after 2 meltdowns on a hot day–candy works. It did tonight thankfully as well;)

My sweet crew…

At the end of the show and before the fireworks began, they asked the crowd to stand to sing the National Anthem. I didn’t expect to be speechless. But I was.

I was holding Zeke. He was playing with my pony tail. And I was singing about freedom. Here this bundle of joy and miracle was in my arms–most likely because of a lack of freedom. (With China’s 1 child policy–many children who are in orphanages are there because they were abandoned due to the 1 child policy.) His head dropped to my shoulder–and the music played. And the words would no longer come out of my mouth. Instead. Tears fell. I can have more than 1 child. And he is my child–because he is from a country where that freedom doesn’t quite exist. I’m going to be SO TIRED tomorrow–I thought. Because we are out late. And church. Oh my–I’ll sleep through church. BUT. I can go. Or not. And I won’t get arrested.

The music played on–and freedom took on a deeper meaning for this momma. Tonight. I’m just thankful. Thankful the Lord is growing our family the way He is. The way He uses us–and loves us–and works through us. So many things to be thankful for tonight. But tonight–our freedom is one of the highlights for me.

And that. I just had to document. A mommy moment that I will always treasure.

Now off to crash! Or else…I’ll really sleep through church tomorrow;)

xoxo.

Andrea

July 6, 2014 - 4:37 pm

Sonya - Don’t stop writing! Please! :) I’m surprised you think blogs aren’t in vogue anymore. Everyone I know reads blogs all the time, and I have you on my list of must-reads! I’ve missed you, so glad to see you back, and I will continue to follow you! Keep on keeping on, warrior, and sharing your God-nuggets! I love it and learn from them too! *hugs*

July 7, 2014 - 1:38 am

Maureen - I am reading your posts!! I have you on my links so I see when you post something new! (Just thought you would want to know that!)

Love those Mommy moments! So glad you and your sweet family had such a great time there! I haven’t been to Stone Mountain for about 12 years, but I remember it was so pretty…and HOT! Really hot!

Keep writing!

July 7, 2014 - 12:56 pm

Kim - I love your blog…. missed your insight and thoughts, please keep it up :) God Bless!

July 8, 2014 - 7:45 pm

julia dansby - I have missed your stories! Glad to have ya back. Yes – keep on keeping on with your mommy moments. Especially with the feelings God stirs up inside you. So often we remember the circumstances of a memory, but the feelings of the moment we forget or lessen their impact on the memory. Such summer fun y’all are having – enjoy the rest of it before the grind starts!

July 9, 2014 - 8:47 am

Megan - I really appreciate those of you who are still blogging :) It’s been discouraging to me to see more and more people stop writing. Looking forward to your writing!

Celebrating 1 Year Home! Happy Forever Family Day Zeke!

I can’t believe it has been a YEAR since we held our sweet boy in our arms for the first time!! It’s been a sweet year…and I always make a video for all my kiddos after their 1st year with us–so here is Zeke’s! The pictures sure are more eventful when you bring home a toddler verses a newborn…100 pictures of a baby smiling verses trips to the space center, swimming and beach for our first year with Zeke! It has honestly been easier than I expected!! People always say “terrible twos” are tough–so you would think bringing home a 2 year old that speaks a different language would be super tough (especially for him!)–but miracles happen…and this guy connected to us so quickly even in China a year ago! So thankful for all the Lord has done!! We love you Zeke…and are so blessed to have forever with YOU!

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