Monday, December 31, 2012

What a Difference a Year Makes


That is what my mother-in-law is calling this Christmas.  And truly it was.  This year, Charles and I surprised the kids (and his sister) with an early Christmas present - a trip to California to spend the holidays with Anna and her family.

The planning had begun four weeks prior to Christmas. We booked our flights. We researched car rentals. We filled Charles' parents and Brian in on the details of our little plan.  All was set.  And then, the hard part started.....keeping the secret from both our kids and Anna. :)

Oh the excitement as we waited with anticipation!!!!  As the month progressed, I had to giggle to myself as our kids talked about Christmas and what gifts they were hoping for. Their sight was so limited, as they could not even imagine anything better than a new Lego set.  A couple days before we unveiled our big surprise, I hinted to my four littles that this Christmas was going to be pretty awesome.


A Lego set!

Movie night!

Ice cream all day long!!

These were a few of their guesses. :)

I couldn't help but to think that it's the same with God.  He, in His infinite wisdom, sees the whole picture.  We only see in part. It's hard for us to comprehend the things of God and all that He has planned because His ways are not our ways.  His thoughts are not our thoughts.  They are always higher, always better.  We set our sights, like my kiddos, on menial things of this world.  Everyday that I settle for less of Him, I invite more worry, bitterness, discontent, and pride into my life.  He has a plan, and it requires me to DAILY trust in Him and His ability to SEE.

Finally, after a month that had inched along, the moment came.  Charles came home early from work, and we gathered our little ones around.  It was time!!  The next several minutes consisted of clues that led them around the house on a scavenger hunt.  Oh the cheers when that final present was uncovered!!!  I'm surprised Anna didn't hear the screaming all the way to California. ;)

But the surprise wasn't over.  Oh no, it had just begun!!  An hour later, we were on our way to catch a flight from Philly to San Fran.  Upon arriving in San Francisco,  we rented a car and began the three-hour trek to their home.  Despite the many trains, planes, and automobiles we had to endure until reaching our destination at 4:00 IN THE MORNING, our kids did so awesome!!  What a blessing!  I think they were just as excited to surprise their cousins as we were. After a quick couple-hours of sleep in the Peterson RV, we were refreshed and ready to go again. With four kids in tow, we walked across the yard to their front door and KNOCKED!!

"Merry Christmas!" we shouted as Anna peered out the front door, still in her jammies.  Mission accomplished.  :)

Isn't God AMAZING??  I mean, really, if you know the history of our family, and the year we have had, then you understand the awesomeness of this Christmas.   Just like my kids, my sight had been limited.  Had you asked me over the summer while my hubby was unemployed what our holiday plans were, I would have laughed at the idea that we would have been able to go, let alone FLY, our entire family to California.  Had you gone back even six months prior, when Charles' sister lay in a hospital bed for the first few weeks of 2012 fighting for her life, the thought of planning anything other than a funeral, seemed pretty far off.  Yet God, in his infinite wisdom knew better.  He knew the end of the story before it ever even began.  Long before our eyes could see.  He knew the joy would be that much more complete having first been through the struggle.

So, as I giggled at my kids, knowing that I knew a secret that they would be so excited about, I also couldn't help but to laugh at my own foolishness and lack of trust that God too, knows secrets that I cannot even begin to imagine or comprehend.  He is so good.  So worthy of all praise.

I won't bore you with all the details of our Christmas extravaganza.  It was awesome.  Epic, even.  It was a celebration of life and love and family.  But mostly, it was a celebration of our God and His awesomeness.

Our God who heals.

Who saves.

Who provides.

Who is faithful.

Thank you to everyone who followed our story and prayed for our family this year.  We are eternally grateful.  Anna is doing well.  Today marks exactly ONE YEAR from the day Micah was born and her fight for life began.  To say that it has been easy, would trivialize the suffering that she has had to endure.  It certainly has been a difficult year, but every day she is getting stronger.  And, most importantly, SHE IS HERE TO TELL HER STORY!!!  To read her story from the beginning you may go here, or check out this link of Anna sharing her own story in her own words.

On the home front, Charles' new job is going well also.  He has been very busy with work this month, and our family has been well-provided for.  So many details about his new job have left us in awe of our God who knows best.  Our adoption is still under-way as we wait to be matched with our forever-child.  We have been really blessed despite hardships.

Truth be told though, I am happy to see 2012 off.  Between the loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, and family members who have struggled, it wasn't our greatest of years.  ;)  Yet, I wouldn't trade it for anything.  The sorrow and uncertainty has made the miraculous and providential hand of God that much sweeter.  It has taught me truths about God that I may have missed out on otherwise.  It has taught me about His overwhelming faithfulness.  His perfect timing.  His grace.

So as 2012 makes it's exit, and the New Year looms around the corner, I leave you with some memories of OUR monumental Christmas.

I believe the word was epic. :)

Giant Sequoia Trees in Yosemite!!!

Sophie and Meghan

Spending the day in Yosemite National Park, CA

Me and my little love....

Sophia in front of Half Dome

The view from here......

The kids had fun playing on the frozen creek bed. :)

The gang in front of the roots of a fallen Giant Sequoia tree.

My love  <3

Giant Sequoia trees

The Peterson clan....

My girls :)

Charles and I in Yosemite.

The kiddos...Christmas Eve

Jackson celebrating his birthday in California!!!

The hospital where Anna spent the first few weeks of 2012 sent Christmas presents this year for all the kids.

Nightly Advent readings with Uncle Brian.

Jackson's pollyanna gift to Charles......Oh! The rivalry was in full effect this week!!!

Sweet Sophia

Christmas morning!!!

My sweet Kaya

My four littles

Baby Micah celebrating his first Christmas!


Spending the day in San Fran before heading home.


Watching the Sea Lions off of Pier 39 in San Fran.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years from the Gregoires in California!!!

Happy New Years from our family to yours!!!  Thanks for being a part of our 2012!


Friday, November 16, 2012


I realize it's been awhile since I've updated.  Two months to be exact.  :)  Between dishes, laundry, school work, home study updates, birthday party plans, sewing Halloween costumes, and well, just LIFE, my blog has kind-of taken a back burner.  And really, I'm OK with less thing on my "list" is fine with me right now.  Buuuutttttt...... many of you have asked about Charles' new job and the status of our adoption, so I thought it was time for an update.

Here's how life has been treating us.....

ON THE JOB FRONT - Charles working again has definitely been an adjustment for the entire family, but we are so THANKFUL he has a job!!!  His new job comes with very early mornings, however, it (most days) leads to earlier afternoons as well.  THAT makes mama happy. :)  Overall, we have seen some wonderful things come from this new position.  Things that we may not ever have thought to have prayed for.  Things that we know could only have come from a detail-oriented God.  So, so THANKFUL!!!  THANKS friends for your prayers!

IT'S A PARTY!!! - Since my last post, we celebrated a birthday around here!!!  My second oldest, Joseph, turned SEVEN!!!  We are so proud of the little man he is becoming.  This year he celebrated with a Star Wars themed birthday party in our backyard.

A Death Star Birthday Cake for one very special Jedi

I had a gazillion more pics, but unfortunately they were lost to an untimely incident between a mug of hot chocolate and my MAC book. with kids.  :)

Joe's most favorite present (besides the gobs of Lego Ninjagos he got)???  Losing a tooth right before bed.  And then, he literally LOST it.  So......he wrote the tooth fairy this little note......

Apparently in our house, if you lose a tooth ON your birthday, it gets you $5.  Lucky dude.  :)

HURRICANE NEWS - Unless you live in a hole, you've undoubtedly heard about a little Hurricane named Sandy wreaking havoc up and down the East Coast last month.  Fortunately, we live far from the coast and didn't experience any damage in terms of water.  The biggest concern where we live was the wind.  More specifically:  trees falling down due to the wind.  And OH!!  were there a TON of trees that fell!!!  During the height of the storm, we took our flashlights, pillows, and blankets down into the basement and camped out for the night.  Despite losing power early in the evening, we made the most of it by eating ice cream (Hey!! You can't let that stuff go bad!), playing Pictionary (by candlelight!!), and reading Detectives in Togas.   Memories were most certainly made!!

When we awoke the next morning, it seemed that everywhere we went, trees were down.  Blocking roads, on top of houses and cars, and resting precariously upon telephone wires.  In my brother's wooded backyard, approximately 20-30 trees fell, all piled up in a neat, not-so-little stack.  This is actually where we spent the week.  Our power went out on a Monday night and wasn't back on until the following Sunday afternoon.  With temperatures drastically dropping, it made for one really cold house.  :)  Honestly though, seeing the stories of the victims in New Jersey and New York, we felt quite fortunate that we merely experienced a slight inconvenience.  We spent the week at my brother and sister-in-law's house. My nieces had off from school for the WHOLE WEEK due to the storm, so we got to spend time with cousins.  It was an instant party!  So THANKFUL for family and friends in the area who helped during this time!!!

IT'S HALLOWEEN!!! - Really, I'm not sure where the year went!  Just a minute ago it felt like the beginning of 2012!!  Before I knew it, Halloween was here, and with it came the costume demands.  So......out came the sewing machine, and with a little bit of creativity, here is what we came up with.....

An Egyptian Princess...

A red ninja...

A green ninja...

And a princess....

SCHOOL - As if hurricanes, birthdays, and job changes didn't keep us busy enough these past couple months, there is always school!!  Our year has gotten off to a great start.  We have managed to keep quite busy.   Here are a few of the highlights so far....

Making mummies using paper mache.....poor Barbie. :)

Haha.  An attempt at marshmallow pyramids....

Class trip to Crystal Caves

Inside the caves with my little love bug.

Apparently soaking a raw egg in vinegar for 72 hours creates a "naked egg" (the shell has dissolved) that you can hold in your hand!  Who knew??!  My kids had so much fun with this experiment!

Field trip to the local dairy farm....

followed by a hayride out to the pumpkin patch.

Gearing up for the Presidential Election....took a tour of the Capital Building in Harrisburg, PA.

The outside was beautiful, but OH MY, the inside!!!!  So fun!  We even got to tour the Senate, House of Representatives, and Supreme Court!

Voting Booth!!!  Tonight's decision??  Honey, I Shrunk the Kids or Orphan Annie and brownies or ice cream for dessert.

 (for the record, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and ice cream won)  :)

The three oldest stayed up late watching the results come in and coloring in their Electoral College Maps.   

Philadelphia Art Museum field trip!!!

By far, the kids favorite was the Arms and Armor room.

Taking a break to play some chess.....

ADOPTION - And finally, our adoption.....all is trucking along there as well.   Due to Charles' new job (and the fact that 18 months are up), we are having to update parts of our portfolio.  Financial statements, insurance information, medical records, FBI fingerprints, clearances, and such.  I'm not at all excited to be back doing paperwork again (it's A LOT!!!!), however, THANKFUL to still be in the process! Once we finish up with our updates, we can be added back onto the wait list at the number we were "frozen" at.  Looking forward to moving DOWN that list again real soon!!!

THANKS again friends for all your thoughts and prayers!  We are certain that without them, we would have struggled much more than we did during this time.  We have so much to be THANKFUL for going into this season of THANKFULNESS.  We even managed to steal away last month for a little date night:

Dead Sea Scroll Exhibit - Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA

Have a wonderful THANKSGIVING!!!


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mustard Seeds

I just got done packing 6 lunches, five of which are going with my children and I to class tomorrow.  The other, will be accompanying my husband to his first day of his NEW JOB. Yes, God is good.  :)

That's right!  You read correctly!  He got a job!!   We couldn't be more thrilled.  Thank you all for praying for us.  It has been a long, uncertain journey, yet exciting as well.  We have learned much about His provision, as we never went without.  When we were faithless, He was faithful (2 Tim. 2:13).  So very true.

Oh, I wish I could say that we never once doubted.  I wish I could say that I knew all along that a job would open up quickly....but....well, that would be a lie.  Many, MANY times during this process, I stressed.  I worried.  I wondered - What if He doesn't provide??  What if a job doesn't open up in time? What if.....

And every time, God nudged me to look backwards.  He reminded me to look at all the times He HAD provided.  All the times He HAD "pulled through".  We've received many emails and sweet cards over the past few months marveling at our faith.  Friends encouraging us that our faith has inspired them in their journeys.  And you know what??  Every time it would make me laugh.  Literally LOL.  Why?  Because there were MANY dark days where I pleaded with God to increase my faith.  I begged Him to "fix my eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen (2 Cor. 4:18)".  In my own strength, I didn't really have much of anything.  All I could see were my surroundings, and well, they looked kind-of bleak. :)

Yet, as I prayed though, something happened.  My faith would increase ever so slightly.  Not much.  Just enough to get me through the next hurdle.  Then again, the Bible doesn't call us to have much faith.  It merely asks us to have the faith of a mustard seed.  Ever seen one of those??

And so, with mustard seed-size faith we persevered.  Or shall I say, persevere?  It is not over yet.  Now begins a whole new round of paperwork.  With new employment comes updated home studies and such.  Charles' new job will need to be approved by our social worker, and our finances combed through again.  We're praying that all will proceed smoothly, although we're learning when it comes to adoption, there may not really be such a thing.  :)

Here's how you can continue to pray for us...

1.  Pray that Charles' new job would be a good fit for him and our family (he is working for a company that is subcontracted by Merck Pharmaceuticals).

2.  Pray that our updated home study, along with Charles' new employment, would be approved so that we could continue on in our adoption.

3.  Pray that we would continue to see movement in our adoption, and that we would continue to be able to raise the funds necessary (we need about $10,000 more).

4.  We need a car!!!  Pray that we could find a good deal on one within the next couple months. We don't want to take out a loan, so it will have to be for a price we can afford!!  For Charles' previous job, he drove a work vehicle to and from the shop in the morning.  We had one personal vehicle for our family.  Upon losing his job, we went down to one car.  We do temporarily have access to a second car for the time being, however, we will eventually need a car of our own.

5.  Lastly, pray that our faith would continue to increase.  Pray that we would not forgot what God has done.

Thank you, thank you, thank you friends!!!  We are so thankful for your friendship, your encouragement, and your prayers!!  We are so incredibly blessed.

Alright, going to bed now.... 5:00 am will be coming early. :)