Monday, October 5, 2015
I've learned a lot from this group of boys, and I use the word boys respectfully. As a teacher to many of them and a dad to one of them I have never learned so much from 10 and 11 year olds. In a society and culture where our news is riddled with negative images, school violence and religious debates about everything under the sun, these boys have been a breath of fresh air. They have given me energy on Monday mornings with their excitement and recollection of the previous nights game.
I don't bring a lot to the football coaching arena. I'm what you might call the "get back coach" or the guy that yells the obvious stuff at the wrong time. My goal when I agreed to help coach was to make sure my own son didn't get obliterated, so far so good! Yet over the course of the last months I have learned so much more from these boys than they have learned from me.
In a league founded on the values of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes I have watched our team meet before every practice and devote a few minutes to connecting with their faith and each other. Isaiah, our prayer warrior at home, even volunteered in pregame to pray over his teammates. An experience that every dad should have!
I've seen boys scared to death to take the field and yet when called upon to go slay the giant, their inner David comes out and they give the best their body can muster. Not many giants fell this year with the Knights on the field but a lot of Davids have been showing up.
If football and life could be combined into one simple package, and a victor be named they would call on the Brandon Knights to take home the honor. Being the underdog week in and week out has been a frustration for everyone on the sideline, but these boys! They have tackled every obstacle, not necessarily every ball carrier, with a smile and sportsmanship like I have never seen. Blow out or not they are ready to shake your hand and congratulate you on being the winner, not necessarily the better team! Because we all know the Knights are the better team!
The way I see it, when you stand back and watch a group of boys, that are allowed to be boys you can learn an awful lot. You see the simple things in life. Where adults see failure because of a scoreless game, these boys saw success in their sweet new helmets. When the adults were frustrated that another loss hit the books, these boys were happy to "whip the nae nae" to the music blaring overhead. And where the adults were busy trying to find less than acceptable ways to win or score, these boys were excited for the hit the smallest kid laid on the biggest!
You see, I love the spirit of these boys. By all adult standards they should be down and out. They should be mad, disappointed, discouraged and definitely NOT dancing! As much as society says they should not be...they are!
They are champions!
They are fighters!
They are boys!
They are Knights!
One final thought.. I always enjoy the drive to the game with Isaiah. It gives us a chance to talk and for me to see where his head is at. Yesterday he didn't want to talk about football. He wanted to talk about recent happenings in the news. Some school violence only 10 miles from our door, followed by a horrific situation on an Oregon campus. He knew details because of the news and he knew that people in Oregon lost their lives when they were asked if they were Christians. He wanted to talk about that! He just wanted me to know that he would have done the same! He would have answered that Yes, he was a Christian, despite knowing the outcome. What?! Did we just have this conversation? At 10 years old my boy is making that decision? It saddens me that he feels he has to make that decision but it gives me great pride that he has already made it.
I don't want my boy to grow up too fast, as I love to watch him be 11. But I know that the lessons he is learning now from the other boys and men in his life are making him into a great person. Our world has put a lot of pressure on these boys as they grow into adulthood. My prayer is that we can slow down and enjoy them for who they are and what they are, boys!
For today, as we get ready to celebrate an 11th birthday in our house I hope my son, and his little brother, always know and believe...
He is a champion!
He is a fighter!
He is a boy!
He is a Knight!
And...more importantly, in his own words, "#IamaChristian"
Saturday, November 15, 2014
We have been home just over 4 weeks now and have already experienced a lot of firsts. I will write more about them later but the biggest one we have been waiting for was the first snow fall!
Everyone has had an opinion on whether or not she will like it, love it or just want to stay inside until summer.
So today we took her to meet Mother Natures best! Attached is a video of the festivities. We strapped the GoPro to Gracie's head so you can get a first hand look at what she saw! We stayed out for over an hour and had to drag her back into the house!
Click here to see...
Gracie Loves the Snow!
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
For starters I want you to know how much I love you. From the moment I first saw your picture I knew you were supposed to be our daughter. And then a few weeks later your mom and I got to hold you and love on you for the first time. They told us you were a “failure to thrive” baby and they weren’t sure how that would effect you as you got older. That we should expect some delays. But as soon as we first touched you we knew that you were going to be just fine. As small as you were physically we knew that nothing would slow you down. Perfection was the word we used! You instantly won our hearts.
I am sure you don’t remember our conversation, but on that trip I promised that I would do anything to protect you and give you the life that you deserved. I told you that we wouldn’t be apart for much longer and that as soon as we could get you home you would be welcomed into a house with two big brothers that were so excited to help you grow. You were loved before you ever even knew it. You were guarded by prayer and love on levels you could never believe! So many people loved you before they ever even met you.
As we began the process to bring you home our hearts were ecstatic with all of the possibilities for your life. We prepared for a process that could take a while and supported you from afar. During that “waiting well” period, things began to unravel and we feared losing you. However, I kept holding on to our little chat. That one about doing anything for you. So as things went badly you were surrounded by even more prayer and love. People from all over the world knew you by name and were praying for your safety and health. People that we didn’t even know were praying for you and asking God to make a way to bring you home to your family.
It’s amazing what prayer and faith can do!
Over the course of the almost 2 year process to bring you home there were numerous times it would have been much easier to just walk away. But your mom and I couldn’t do that. God led us to you and no matter what people said or how badly our feelings were hurt it was never even an option to give up. The doubters had no idea how hard I would fight for you. They had no idea that at times we agreed with them, that this process was crazy and seemed like it would only end with disappointment. Yet we clung to our faith. We did our best to let their words and actions roll off our backs. All because we knew that you were waiting on the other end of this fight.
That “light at the end of the tunnel” was every picture and video we received of you. It was plastered on fridge doors, screensavers, picture frames in countless rooms and just about everywhere we went. You never left our side even though we were an ocean apart. You were with me every step of the way as I trained for a half marathon and you were there when I crossed the finish line. Your big brothers prayed for you every night. They wanted to know everything about you and when they finally got to meet you they instantly knew it as well. They knew they were supposed to be your protective brothers and right from the first moment they took their job serious.
I want you to know today how much you are loved. You are loved by the parents that gave you life and you are loved by the parents that are giving you a life. Both sets of parents sat in hot Haitian court rooms and signed on blank notebook paper to give you the best life possible. One mom and dad signed stating that they could not provide the proper care you deserved. And the other mom and dad signed on stating that they would give you the life that you were destined to have. A life filled with anything that your heart desires. A life filled with love beyond anything you could have ever imagined. A life surrounded by people that will always be there for you. A life where if you can dream it, it can become a reality. And a life where above all else, you will know that you are loved by a maker that created you to be someone amazing! A God that knew before any of us did that you would cross an ocean and become part of a family that would walk through flames for you. A God that loves you unconditionally and doesn’t make mistakes!
So today, little one, as we celebrate your “gotcha day” and finally can say our family is complete, I want to share just a couple things with you…
Finally, the last thing you need to know as we prepare to be a forever family… I love you!
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
And it didn't happen in a church, or at a Bible study or where you might expect something like that to happen.
It all went down right in the middle of my fifth grade classroom! In the middle of our parent teacher conferences!
I had just gotten done meeting with a mother and son about how great his year had been going. The mother knew of our adoption process and was asking some of the usual questions about timeline and all of that. Our conversation ended with just a simple explanation that we were once again back to ground zero with some things, but were ever so grateful that we were allowed to preserve our match with Gracie! Our main priority now was to focus on the good things and get our baby girl home. God would take care of the rest!
As I turned to leave that conversation I was immediately stopped by another parent. A dad that I had met for the first time just a few minutes earlier. He stood there staring at me and said he had a question to ask me. That type of thing, during conferences, always gets a teacher a little nervous but I had to say yes!
His question was definitely not one I was expecting, at all!
"I just overheard your conversation with that family and I am wondering if I can pray for you?", he boldly said.
Without even thinking I agreed and was quickly swept up into one of those God moments! Standing face to face, he grabbed my hands, took off his stocking cap and bowed his head. Not worried one bit about the family still sitting a few feet away or the other family just across the room. He broke into one of those prayers that would make my momma proud. And it was bold and Loud!!
|The view from my desk!|
The prayer took a minute or two but oddly seemed like it was longer. One of those prayers that you don't want to leave because the emotion, heart felt passion and the love is just right there. I hope you can relate. Those types of prayers aren't always easy to come by. I am not a master of them by any means but when I get the privalege of hearing one, I am all in! I am a big time fan of the powerful prayer! No "wimpy" prayers for me, as a great friend once said! Prayer has played a large part in my past and continues to be a powerful factor as we move forward with this adoption adventure. Prayer got me through the passing of my father, exactly 26 years ago today. It healed our oldest son when we thought we were going to lose him. And it continues to break down walls and bring hearts together! And one day it will bring Gracie home!
Shortly after the prayer ended this prayer warrior exited and I stood there for a second wondering what had just happened, and in complete awe of how God works. How in the middle of a public school classroom I had just stood with a complete stranger and prayed! Those types of things just don't happen and aren't supposed to happen! God just seems to show up at those times when we least expect it and He shows himself through the people we would never assume He would.
God rocked my world last night while I stood in a 5th grade classroom, with a handful of people standing silently by. For a small moment in time it felt like my room; filled with exercise balls, dirty desks and broken pencils, was a safe spot that two brothers could come together and get real with God! I got served, as my kids would say!
So today I continue to ask for your prayers! Above all we need to thank God that Gracie is in a safe place and being taken care of so well. We also need to pray that those representing us in Haiti will be shown grace and wisdom as they try to clear up the dirty road laid in front of us. Pray for Gracie's Haitian family and her family here that is just waiting for the day that we can snuggle up with her on these frigid South Dakota days. And finally we boldly ask for God to continue to provide in big ways so that we can get our baby girl home! Amen
Right now our biggest obstacle is sadly re-raising funds to bring our baby home. We have been blessed by so many and continue to be but we truly can't do this alone! Please continue to pray, we appreciate that more than anything, and if you feel at all led to help support us in bringing Gracie home please check out a few of these options...
1. On the top right of this page is a link to our family page at Adopttogether. You can use this site to make a tax deductible donation!
2. Save the date, March 8th, at Calico Skies Winery. Some great friends of ours are organizing an evening out full of shopping, raffle/auction items, supper and live music! We will be posting more info on vendors and other details soon.
3. Support Vibella and Gracie. By clicking here you can shop on the Vibella website for amazing jewelry made by some incredible Haitian women. Not only do you help us bring Gracie home but you will also be helping to support the ladies that create these great masterpieces! Be sure to use the code FST09 when you checkout to make sure the Gracie Adoption Fundraiser gets credit. Together we can make a difference!
|Our good friend Kayla with Gracie and her daughter Wishla!|
Kayla is the Hands and Feet of Jesus in Haiti! She also
works with the Haitian ladies creating jewelry for Vibella!
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
I don't know if you were spoiled or heard the song for this day,
You probably don't even know it but this day is so sweet,
Because there is so much love out there just waiting for you to meet,
A mommy that needs to hold you and touch your soft skin,
A daddy that longs to protect you from all the chaos that you've been in,
Two big brothers that wait in wonder at when you're coming home,
But they love you to pieces and they won't let you go,
We have loved you in person and we have loved you from afar,
We have sat up late at night and wondered if you see the same star,
Gracie, I want you to know how much you are loved,
That even though we aren't with you today that you are being watched from above,
Someday soon you will come home and be a part of our world,
You will join us forever and be Daddy's little girl,
So today on your birthday we pray, thank God and celebrate,
The little beauty that God led us to and for your homecoming we can't wait,
You are loved by so many that to describe there is no way,
So tonight in your honor we
Love you Gracie Marie Peters!