Thursday, December 29, 2011

Truly, all about Taiwan

Take a look at our latest, exciting news HERE!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

God's Hands at work! Or, if you DO ONE THING TODAY...

These are our dear friends from Wilmore, KY. They recently traveled to Taiwan to pick up their much-awated baby girl. We met her two nights ago for the first time and she is AMAZING! A little Taiwanese jewel of a baby girl.

If you DO ONE THING today go to this great site about a Crisis Pregancy center in Taiwan. It's an amazing AMAZING blog post from His Hands. Near the end of the page is our friends "Gotcha Day" image!

May God bless your family today as He has blessed ours!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Neals News - Oct/November!

Thank you to each of our friends and family for your love and support of our family!
We love you and pray this newsletter finds you well!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I just discovered...

A gorgeous blog. Of course, she's in sunny California. Of course.
Click on the image to take you to Vignette Design.

I was just enjoing the eye candy at the above blog and thought I'd add a few
 images I had stored in my picture album from the summer.

 John's pool

 Sunset behind birdbath
 John's bathroom!

It's my prayer that your Fall is not too chilly, like it is here! The look back at summer is bittersweet. I love the changing seasons. But, I miss good ol' summer when she passes.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Long Overdue...

It just doesn't seem right somehow that we had our first fire in the fireplace this weekend. At the end of Spring we are so glad to put away all the dust and debris from the fireplace. But, when Fall rolls around again it is new and exciting to have that First warm fire. And, the mess doesn't seem to be such a big deal. J and I are enjoying a warm Monday morning - the second fire of the season. And, I am going through pictures from...gasp...the summer. Enjoy.

We visited my family in Maggie Valley, North Carolina

 The Great Smoky Mountains

 Pioneer Village in Maggie Valley

 J's Great Aunt Cis

Guess who hidden behind his new book on the way home to KY

Feeding the ducks at Lake Junaluska, NC

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


...of my life in the past several days:

1. After not seeing my little Ninja for awhile I went looking for him. As I rounded the corner to the laundry room I saw him peeking out at me from behind the door. With a BIG. FAT. CHOCOLATE. ring around his mouth.  He had been in the freezer eating a chocolate popcicle. (our deep freeze is under the stairs in a closet)

2. I was told that my little man does not like Sesame Street. "Why not?" I asked. "Because it's funny," he said. After thinking for a minute, I asked, "do you mean because it's silly?" He replied, "uh, huh."
Isn't that the point, ladies and gentlemen (?), I thought to myself. The mind of a 3 year old. Go figure.

3. We found a front-row parking space at the grocery store. "Thank you Jesus!!," says my sweet boy.

4. On an elevator going to the dr.'s office a nice lady notices J's monkey backpack and comments on it. Then she says, "are you a little monkey?!" J gives her a long look and politely says, "no." But, I know my boy's mind...while he is being polite he is also thinking, "is she crazy?!"

5. J's favorite question is...drumroll please..."why?" I think I hear that an average of 43,572 each day.

6. He leaves off the 's' on words and cannot yet grasp the 'th' sound. So, "snack" sounds like "nack." And, "thank" sounds like "tank" and "stick" sounds like "tick." I could go on. But, I'll save all of us the embarrasment.

Only a few of the funniest things we've encountered in our precious lives the past few days.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pink bicycles and more News

Today, Sunday, was so wonderful. I know that sounds cliche, but it truly was...we visited 'old' friends who live in Louisville, KY. We all went to college at Asbury together. They have 3, count em' 3, girls and they are all sweet and adorable in their own individual ways. Our little man had fun playing with a few girly, princess toys. They live on a cul-de-sac and at one point we thought John might actually pedal a bike. (Even though it was pink and purple like the one above.) I guess there were too many other distractions because he gave up after a few tries. He's been talking to us for several weeks about riding a bike...guess the dream was better than the reality for now! We rode over after church and they fed us a great dinner. Did I mention that they really rubbed it in that Louisville won over Lexington in last nights football game? No...well, they did. All evening. So, it was a good long visit and there were tears by yours truly by the end of the evening.

I have some good news and some bad news about my thyroid issues. I can't put all of them into words on this blog because you would all be bored and might unfriend me on Facebook. (Hee, hee.) But, seriously, we think we're moving forward with progress, it is just slow going. We have a dr.'s appt. this Thursday in Atlanta. I've found myself needing to explain the distance so I'll relay that here too. I've researched a lot of dr.'s here in Lexington and have even looked at Louisville. But, of all the calls and visits I've made I have not found the right endocrinologist and obgyn who can get it right. So, this dr. in Atlanta is recommended by friends of my parents and he has been in practice for over 30 years. He is an endo and an obgyn. So, I do believe I'll find some answers. Charley keeps telling me not to get my hopes up, but I can't help it. I am desperate to feel better and get some relief from swelling, moodiness, migraines, etc. - all hormonal stuff. don't want me to go on - it would only embarrass us both.

News about our ministry in Taiwan: for now, there is not a lot of news. We are still setting goals for leaving in November, but realistically know that my health and God's timing in providing partners in ministry will be the ultimate goals in the coming months. We don't know what that looks like, but will keep you updated as we know! The Home needs us then, has asked for our help in November and we are praying through decisions and timing.

Don't you love the pics before each paragraph? Real original, I know. But, I just think it's a travesty not to include pictures on a blog post. And, our computer is still sick. So...that's the best I can do.

For now, I'll sign off with a very fun link to a site called Our Vintage Home Love. I check it once in a blue moon. Her site is fresh, clean and eclectic.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

News!'s been almost 2 months since I've posted on our blog! This summer has been packed with so many blessings. We've traveled a lot after having been at the farm for the almost 3 years, and we have some great news to share. Keep reading!

We are writing to tell you about a new blessing in our lives. God has asked our family of three to leave the Bluegrass for a season. After loads of prayer and discernment about His will for our lives we are going to serve in Taiwan at The Home of God’s Love* for one year, possibly two. In the past three years at the farm here in KY we’ve raised a flock of 75 laying hens and were currently selling 4 dozen eggs daily. We have had success with our small herd of meat and dairy goats, too. We became members of Buena Vista Baptist church and have been blessed with some of the sweetest relationships with believers of all ages. It seems foolish, perhaps, to give up these things in order to go across the world when we are comfortable and thriving. We don’t always understand the Lord’s direction, but we know that to ignore and disobey His call is not an option for us.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Looking toward our time overseas, we will help the full time missionaries who have been faithfully serving the Lord for 30+ years in Taiwan. They have asked us to apply for international drivers licenses so that we can help drive the school age children, we’ll help feed the infants night and/or day, aid with adoption paperwork and support, minister to the children who permanently live in the orphanage and much more. The Home is in the planning stages of building a new structure to adequately meet their growing needs. We both worked hard to build our small home here at the farm and Charley’s skills will be put to use in many ways regarding the new structure. We’ll play, love and laugh with the children at the Home, with the adoptive families who will come and go frequently, and we’ll be blessed to learn a new language as we serve alongside Taiwanese employees. Our family will live in a small apartment within walking distance of the Home and we are blessed to have 1 day off each week. We are also going to begin our time in the country with a 6 week Chinese (Mandarin) language course.

But, we aren’t kidding ourselves that it will be easy. We are intimidated by this undertaking that the Lord has asked of us. We have never lived overseas for more than one month during our 2 short term missions trips to Kosovo…one year seems like a big deal to us! We’re asking for your support in prayer and love.

I was enthralled with the Royal wedding and all that led up to that special ceremony. But, most of all, I was touched by the sermon given. “Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire,” was one of the Bishop’s quotes. We are proud parents, farmers, committed Christians and we love children – perhaps most of all, orphans. God has put “a fire” in our hearts for little children and, in particular, for the Home of God’s Love. To ignore that yearning would be to ignore “who God meant for us to be.”

“Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and
wherever you send us we will go.”

Joshua 1:16

So, will you pray for us as He leads us down this path? We are humbled and intimidated by the process of raising funds. We’ll need prayer for adjustment as we acclimate into a new society. And, of course, our first priority is John’s adjustment. He will be at home, not preschool, in Taiwan. And, he’ll be with us as we meet the daily needs of the Home. God’s timing is always perfect, and we are thankful that John is young enough that we don’t have to take him out of school and say goodbye to friends and teachers.

We’ll be on Facebook (Charley Neal, Jackie Neal), please don't hesitate to "friend" us!

Your regular support or a one-time gift will help us serve at The Home of God’s Love*. Thank you for your prayerful consideration.

Here’s what the bottom line looks like: $2,000/month for living expenses.
Airfare for 3 = $5,000. If 200 people gave just $10/month we would almost be fully funded!

Email me at if you would like to know more!

Here's the info for tax-deductible gifts:

GO International
PO Box 123
Wilmore, KY 40390
Phone) 859.858.3171
Fax) 859.858.4324

At Go International click on the Donate link. It will lead to a separate page. Click Give Now. Under Ways to Support Go, our names are listed under “Staff Ministry Support Accounts.”

Prayer: Sorry, no pics this time. My computer is dead. We are operating from a borrowed one thanks to Charley's dad.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

10 years and counting...

After hunting for a quality quote that would say what I'm feeling today I realized I should probably just be woman enough to post my own thoughts. So, here it goes.
We drove down to our local ice cream shop last night. There were a few moments of looking back on the past, but mostly there was a lot of chatter and interaction from the short guy in the backseat. "Pipe down, Chachi," is what we throw in that general direction. We were so young when started this journey together...20 and 21 when we met and fell in love. It feels like yesterday, but it also seems like a lifetime ago. Even though we didn't live our childhoods together, we've grown up as adults together. We've relied on each other with God's help for so many things - full time ministry at the Ranch, buying our first home, jobs, foster parenting, fertility, traveling in the US and overseas, navigating relationships with friends and family, adoption, hurdles with my health, learning and growing in our faith, failures, triumphs, building our forever house, adding and subtracting animals, the "terrible 2's"...the list goes on.
The past 10 years have been a roller coaster of glories and valley's. But, it's been a faithful foundation and a test for the future. We can never be fully prepared to face the future...we can only be totally connected as a strand of 3 (now 4) and forge ahead, taking one day at a time.
It's a beautiful life, I wouldn't want to live with anyone but you.
Happy Anniversary, my friend.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

sum sum summa time

saturday morning with daddy
a little slice of sherpa heaven
fresh lettuce from the garden to the table
can you see it? look very's there if you stare long enough

Picnic, Memorial Day and a Laugh

Yesterday evening we were headed to our monthly Adoption group picnic. We were all in the car together after a day apart - John in preschool, daddy at work, and mommy at home preparing for our trip. I can't wait to ask about John's day when he's been at school, as I'm sure my mom loved to ask about mine when I was growing up.

I would always give the same answer, "It was fine."
Poor lady.
What do I usually get from my son at the end of the day? "It was fine, mommy."
"Son, what did you have to eat today?"
"Nothing," he answered.
Oh, ok. Again, my poor mother.
Payback is what this is, I guess. But, here comes the best part...
"Mommy, I love you. And, I love daddy. And, Gaga and Papa and Grandma and Grandpa."
Can I just say how good it feels to know we are still most important and that school and friends don't yet trump family! I pray it stays that way until he's oh...22 or so. Sigh.
After our picnic we stopped at "Old *McDonald's" cute, right!? We needed a .50 cent ice cream cone after all of that playing and picnicking. When we finished, our little man announced, "now move on. Hold on to your panties." Daddy sometimes announces that when we leave our driveway. I guess it's made quite an impression.
On Memorial Day we got together with some friends that we've known for several years now. They also adopted from *Thogl and our boys were there at the same time. Little C, below on the right, (not to be confused with the artist Lil C) was the first baby I held and fed before my Johnny woke up the morning we arrived in Taiwan. It is a blessing to be able to connect and share life with them several times a year. God weaves an intricate fabric of love in special ways!

C on the right, at *Thogl (thanks, J, I borrowed this from FB!)

J at *Tholg
And, here are our boys today - 3 years later and oh how they've grown!
Do you love my boys wild hair - spiked after sweaty play outside?!

Our families

Mmm...the AC just kicked on at 9am here in the south. Better go shut the open windows...By the way...we try to stay frugal, even when it comes to AC. We keep the temp at 79 during the summer and turn the ceiling fans on high. Since we're in the middle of a hay field with hardly any shade we try to leave the Ac high so that we don't get too spoiled...we still have to work outside! And, coming back into the Ac on high does not bode well if we still need to keep it real with work outdoors!
Try to stay cool on this hot summer day!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gardens, Flowers, and Fruits of Labor

Welcome to summer on the farm. It's full of blooming flowers, a running creek, shooting lettuces...and loads of crabgrass in the garden . Every season has it's ups and downs. I guess that could be said of childrearing, seasons of life...let's see, what else? All kidding aside, this truly is the prettiest season so far on the farm. It's the 3rd year that we have been living in our home, the 3rd year we've planted (a scaled down) garden, the 3rd year of John's life, and the 3rd year that grass has sprung in the front yard. It's a vast improvement over the past ~ rocks out front, a cranky toddler...ew!!

Mesclun, with a hint of peas creeping in.

Can anyone guess which crop in the garden already has flowers?

Personally, I don't think there is anything better than watching my husband work in the shows how limber he still is after all these years.

Strawberry season is winding down for us...we lost our plants last year to some pesky invasive goats so we had to start anew...a least we had a few fruits to enjoy.

Sherpa...watching faithfully, never lifting a helping paw.
We are gearing up for our first vacation as a family! Next week we are going to Amelia Island, FL. We'll leave towards the end of the week and get back the following week. The Neals are coming to stay at the farm while we are away. We are so thankful for their willingness to spend their vacation here caring for the farm and animals and working on projects. It's going to be hot...we are working on our tans here in ol' KY now so that we don't turn into lobsters in FL. John has not visited the beach yet and we are so excited to watch him discover the sand and surf for the first time in his little life! I can't wait to take pictures of him enjoying our vacation.
Adios for now...we hope that you enjoy this beautiful sunshine!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Twins Are Here

Here's the smallest man on the farm

And, above is the newest little lady

Latte, aka Mom, is giving us 1 quart of milk daily
Thanks for stopping by. Have a Wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

April and May Showers bring...

Above are some pics of my birthday flowers. The gerbera daisies are from my dear friend, Lynsey. And, my sweet husband gave me a beautiful hydrangea.
Life the past month:
Our sweet boy needs some socialization besides mommy now that he's almost 3 1/2. (And, truthfully, mommy needs some time off so that I can be my best for my family!) So, it was my mission earlier in the week to find the best childcare available in our neck of the woods. Our friend, Ruthann, has been sweet to open her home to John once a week for about the past 6 or so months. He's had so much fun with their son who is John's age, I have been ok with our time apart, and it was an excellent segway into a more full time preschool setting for John. Last week I went door to door and even went to the elementary school he'll be attending in the fall. On our way inside, John fell down in the parking lot and scraped his fingers. So, we buzzed inside the locked front doors and were met by our church choir director, Ms. Bisher! She fixed us up with a band-aide and antiseptic and showed us John's classrooms. I met with his teachers and couldn't be happier with their youth, enthusiasm and responsibility. Then, we went down to visit Ms. Bishers 3rd grade room and she gave John a toy to take home. He was in love with the classrooms. He found the kids' lunch boxes right away and kept going back to one that he thought he needed to eat. We know what he likes to do!
After visiting several places, I found the childcare center where John will be's a great little old converted church 10 min. from our house. But, most of all, the owners are fellow adoptive parents who have 4 children - 2 biological and 2 adopted - and they are committed Christians. John has friends from church that attend - two of his favorite older friends, in fact, that he bonded with right away almost a year ago at church. It's an answer to prayer and a blessing to know that he'll be well cared for and loved in a home away from home-type setting.
The sun. Totally under-rated and totally wonderful lately.
Weather. Totally unpredictable - especially for those that have been hit so hard by storms and tornados this season. Please pray for our friends who live in and around the Joplin, Missouri area as they deal with tragic loss.
In farm news:

Until several days ago Latte, above, was headed for the unmentionable. Alas, she gave birth to two babies - a doe and a buck! She is safe. And, the great news is - she is a fantastic mother. She is also very capacious (full udder, A+ dairy goat) and we've milked one quart of milk in the last 2 days. We'll either drink the milk or try to make soap. We haven't decided. The baby doe is so sweet and mild and the buck is quite flashy. I'll try to remember to post a pic of him.
The below images don't need words. Enjoy.
Until next time,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Family Photos

Check them out at Cydil Waggoner's blog.

What a great photographer she is...

Saturday, April 30, 2011


my last post about attachment and bonding I feel like we've come a long way. John is in his twin bed now and if he calls for me in the middle of the night I can go in and sleep with him in comfort - being nearby for a long while instead of a short time in the chair where I could never seem to get comfortable! Charley would go in frequently because I do not, I repeat do not, fall asleep again easily. AT ALL. C on the other hand can pop his head on the pillow and drift off in an instant. John and I seem to be more thankful for eachother, too, due in large part to my dear friend who watches him most Thursdays. Her little boy is just a few months younger than John and they have a lot of fun together. I have also realized an important fact about my little one...he is excitable. He may not always show it. But, he needs days to wind down and sleep off a visit from the grandparents, for example. He gets so excited beforehand that he doesn't sleep well and then he is so excited during a visit or event. So afterwards he is a mess! And, he's sometimes a mess in the middle too! I gather that's normal for a lot of kids and it comes with the age. But, I do realize that my son is very sensitive and super aware of and to many things - noises, music, sounds, emotions, feelings, etc. Ahh, the joys of parenthood. Learning about life with a little human being is humbling and challenging and rewarding. And some more stuff better left unsaid :).

The grass is green, there is too much rain, and spring has sprung. Bless the South and the destruction they are facing. Our high winds and thunderstorms have been so bad this month of April 2011. My friends text me to "go to cover!" when the sirens sound in town. We don't hear them this far out in the country. This has been one time I've been thankful for our lack of trees nearby - no worries about downed limbs and creaking trees.

John has started to call us "mom" and "dad" every once in awhile. We don't like this! And, he's learning names and places. He loves the grocery store - notably *Kroger...probably b/c that's one of the few places mommy takes him frequently! And, he asks us our names all of the time.

"What's your name mommy?" "What's your name, daddy?" The first time he asked I made the mistake of thinking it was so wonderful that I gave him our real names. So, then he asked about his grandparents names and repeated them. Over and over. And again and again. So cute. But, now I just stick with the simple answer.

It's been awhile since I've blogged, I realize. But, better late than never I guess. Wasn't the *Royal Wedding amazing!? I was hooked and still am...going back and watching stuff I've recorded. We are getting rid of most of our cable channels soon and I'm so glad we still had *TLC for those silly pre-shows! And, the sermon was so meaningful...praying blessings on them as they start a tough life. Well, not too tough, I guess - what with servants, fancy cars, chefs, and blah, blah, blah. I was really humbled to hear they will spend their first year alone in the country - no frills. Well, that is, after the 6 week honeymoon on a private island. LOL

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I've discovered a few more things I'd like to share...

In My Child's World is another site that brings together parents who are committed to giving their children their very best. A quote from their pages:

"I have four children. Two are adopted. I forget which two." ~ Bob Constantine

I don't who Bob is, but I like him.

Another site is all about creating/providing/producing duffel bags - real, tangible life-long bags to keep - for foster children! Instead of sending them packing (either to a forever home, another placement, or back to their biological families) with everything they own in garbage bags these people saw a need and filled it! Go here to check it out...Revival Gear Project.

So...I'm going out on a limb here. I'm going to be brief, but I could write forever.

Throughout these 30 months of life with our boy I, mommy, have always taken a backseat to daddy. It's been ok. I understand. My boy has had so many ladies pass through his life that it is hard for him to trust. I've always felt it will just take time for him to lovingly put his arms around my neck like he does to his daddy. Or, that it will just take time for him to want sit on my lap facing me while we talk or eat. I have felt rejected, depressed, sad and always confused. I certainly don't talk about it with anyone else besides my husband b/c to admit such deep emotions to the world would mean, for me, defeat. Defeat that I had not done my best to try to bond and attach with my beloved son...or had worse, done something wrong and contributed to the issues we face together, my son and I.

But, let's face it - after reading and learning and praying and pondering I do realize that adoption is about loss, grief, turmoil, hope, love and redemption. Loss for me in that I was not there for the first moments of my son's life, grief that he has suffered the loss of 9 months in the womb + 7 months in an (albeit extraordinary and Christian love-filled) orphange setting, and turmoil at being hoisted from both of these situations to a loving home across the ocean filled with new scents, people, languages, loves, sites, hands and so much more. (ALL, by the way, HUGE sensory experiences even for a biological 7 months old!)

This is the first time I've put pen to paper - um, fingers to keyboard - and really journaled my thoughts for the world to read. I pray, fast, and ruminate in my head at length, all the intricacies of life with my son. Because, geesh, I'm a stay at home mom and although the laundry, dishes, farm work and more all call out to me daily I still have a lot of time to think and pray! Anyway...

All of that to say that, like it or not, I do take a backseat to daddy. And, I am tired of feeling sad and resentful (a little) about it. I'm going to pursue my son until he melts in my arms. Arching his back, protesting loudly, grunting, putting me at arms length when I hold him facing me is no longer acceptable. Holding him on my hip with his arm and elbow propped on my collarbone to keep me at bay is no longer tollerable for me! I want to feel his arm around my neck. I want him to bury his head in my neck like he does with his daddy. He can do it with me b/c I see him do it with dad! He is capable!

I love when he sits on my lap facing outward when we read together. But, I've always felt something is missing. Attachment - real attachment - is what we both want.

So, yesterday I held him for almost an hour. I tried cradling him, which he would not have. I tried turning him to face me, which he would not have. I tried holding him to me - head to head. But, he climbed up past me, trying to get away. I heard lots of "no's," lots of "I don't need you's." But, I didn't stop loving him and pursuing him. I heard, "I want mommy." Huh? I'm right here, I thought. And, you can read it how you'd like. But, I think in my heart that he meant the mommy who held him inside of her for 9 months. Or, the "mommies" that fed him countless bottles for 7 months. Call me crazy. It's ok. I can take it. But, it's what I believe.

I told him calmly, sometimes whispering, over and over how much I love him, how he is my child, my baby, and I will always be here for him.,,forever. I am never leaving.

We stopped for dinner with daddy and as we walked into the kitchen with me holding him he actually held on to me for a minute with his arms around my neck. He laid his little head on my shoulder and whispered, "I love you, mommy." Oh man.

It's not like he doesn't tell me he loves me, he does. But, this was unexpected, genuine, straight from the heart. Something about it was different.

Later, after dinner, daddy went outside to finish chores. Usually John wants to play and go outside with him. But, last night he sat in my lap and said, "bye!" Totally unusual for him.

John and I sat rocking together, with him facing out (of course!), but he was content. After a few minutes I turned him around...well, attempted to turn him around (he's so strong!) and we went at it again for awhile. Without any prompting he slowed a little bit as I tried to cradle him, looking into his eyes and he said, "I need you mommy." Then, he looked at me square in the eye and said, "mommy needs me?" while he nodded his head. Oh man...that was when I knew I was doing what he had wanted me to do for so long - to just hold him, give him eye contact, no matter how painful. And, tell him over and over that I loved him and I would never leave him and he is my forever baby.

So much of John's story is personal. I don't ever want to exploite his story or tell the world his raw emotions for fear that he will dislike my words as he can understand more and more each passing year. It's a tricky thing - putting your words, your heart out there in blogland. But, I can't hold these moments in my heart. God's children are made alike in so many ways and I know there other mom's feeling what I feel.

So, I couldn't help but share this journey of attachment and bonding. Our story is too good to hide in this little house. It's a safe little house and we so often want to shelter ourselves from the storms of the world. But our light shines bright - for our son, his life's journey, our trip to parenthood, and for the LORD! In the hopes that it might make a difference in the life of another little one unable to bond, I write these words of encouragment ~ there is hope for healing the wounds of loss felt so deeply inside the heart. There is light at the long end of what sometimes feels like a dark and winding tunnel.

I am encouraged beyond words b/c for the first time last night, my son fell fast asleep in my arms.

Every fostering class, social worker and most friends, encourage a child to fall asleep on their own. And, for most children, that's true! For most biological children, that's a fact! And, we have done that ever since John came home. But, the love he showed me by cuddling his little back to me last night and trusting me enough to fall asleep as I held him was by FAR the most wonderful statement of love he has ever given me.

Yes, he obeys most of the time b/c I tow the line. But, I want him to want to obey me b/c he loves, cheriches and trusts me. Hmmm, I think...just like God wants us to spend time talking, loving and cherishing Him.

I believe that the more I hold him, the more I tell John I cherich him over and over and talk quietly about our losses and gains...that he and I will have a bond closer than he and his daddy. Is it ok to want that for us? I think it is. We'll heal our distraught emotions and come out on top of the world.

And, the whole focus? LOVE.

Because LOVE is what LIFE is all about.

The next time God brings a child into my life I will follow my heart, my gut. I will not take "no" for an answer when I try putting her in a chest carrier facing me. Charley and I will be the only ones to hold her for weeks. I will be her primary bottle-giver, lover, comforter and holder. Me. Mommy. Forever. Easy words to say, but for so many little ones, hard words to accept and trust.

Remember the picture of the 3 of us at Christmas from the start of the post? Scroll up and take a closer look at it. My goal for next year is to have my boy giving a hint of a smile and for his little hands to be at rest.