We have had our boy for 8 months! So hard to believe that time is going so fast!
What an exciting month it has been! On July 17th, we set out on a 3 week adventure driving through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. I can honestly say that this was one of the BEST family vacations we have ever had! We experienced so many blessings. First of all, we all needed rest and a time to refresh our minds. We got that and we were recharged when we arrived home. Secondly, we were able to see family and friends. We went to Georgia on the way down and got to spend a couple of days with David's family. It is always fun to go to Rome, Georgia to be with family! Toby really loved seeing his Paw Paw and Maw Maw again as well as his Uncles, Aunts and cousins. He had met them in the Spring and still remembered all of the sign names that he had given them. He has such an amazing memory! We also got to visit with precious friends in Florida and in North Carolina. What a joy it was to introduce our son to people that have supported us prayerfully and financially. It was a priority for us to thank them in person for their support. Thirdly, we got to have a lot of fun as a family. Seeing our children interact with each other, accepting Toby as a part of the family and laughing together was such a blessing. Toby got to play A LOT at the beach and in the pool. In the first few days, he was TERRIFIED of water. He had such an issue with trust and fear. As the days progressed, he learned to trust us when things got scary. He knew that we were going to hold on to him and not let go. It was miraculous how you could see the fear just falling off of him. Even people that were observing him at the pool that we had just met, were astonished at his progress. It allowed us to share his story and advocate for children in need of adoption. One day, Toby was so brave that he went in the pool (which was way over his head) without his float. He quickly sunk to the bottom and could not come back up. I didn't think that I could move that fast, but I jumped off that lounge chair and dove in the water (everyone knows that I am not a water person) and pulled my little brave boy up out of the water. He clung to me for dear life and I had to explain to him that he was not allowed to do that again or I would have a heart attack. I think he learned a lot that day. (: And I learned that I still have a lot of spunk.(: I think Toby's highlight was going to see Mickey Mouse. He knew about Mickey in China. He would wear clothes with Mickey Mouse and he brought a water cup with him from the Foster Home with Mickey on it. We knew that he was So excited to finally get to meet him. We all teared up as Toby got to see Mickey for the first time. His reaction was priceless! He had no fear, but he was just star struck. This imaginary character came to life in his mind. It was a moment that was SO sweet. We were so happy to give him that gift. It was a time that we will always cherish as a family.
Some other highlights we experienced were going to three different churches while we were away. We love to visit other churches and get the perspective of a visitor. When we see things we like, we try to implement those things at our church especially with hospitality. David and I both have a passion for people to love coming to church. We really want visitors to feel welcome and get plugged into our community of friends. We felt so welcomed at all three churches that we attended. (One of them was First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach where David served for 3 years and I directed the Deaf Ministry. Of course we felt welcomed at one of our home churches! ;) )
One of the biggest highlights was that David and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary while we were at Daytona Beach!!! What a thrill it was to renew our vows at the beach. I felt like a bride all over. My kids were such troopers as they were a part of the small ceremony that we had together. I am so blessed to be married to my David! He is my gift from God. It hasn't been an easy 25 years, but we have stayed committed to each other and we are more in love today than ever. He is such a part of my heart and soul. I could not imagine my life without him. I am so blessed to share my life with my wonderful husband and best friend. He also is such a WONDERFUL and FUN daddy. My kids adore him ...although his personality and antics sometimes embarrass them, but they would not want anyone else to be their Dad. Thank you David for your love for the Lord, for me and for our children! Let's just keep on celebrating this big occasion. I love you!
. Another highlight was that we got to celebrate our little Sunshine, Cassidy's birthday! I can't believe my baby girl turned 11 this year! She is such a compassionate, sweet, thoughtful ray of light in our family. I am SUCH a blessed Mommy to have her as my daughter! Not only is she a wonderful daughter, but the way that she interacts with and communicates with Toby reminds me of someone else.... ME! She interacts with Toby the same way that I interacted with my Deaf brother, Mark. I love seeing this. She has even expressed interest in becoming an ASL interpreter in the future. My heart! She has such natural ability and I can see God using her in a great way in the future with Deaf friends.
When we arrived home after this long, much needed, adventure, we literally hit the ground running at our annual church 5K. Toby did it! That boy just does not stop. He is so full energy and is starting to show such much affection to me. I can't believe the summer is over, but it sure was a lot of fun!