Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Her Name

Since we first knew of our daughter we have known what her name would be.  We've saved it for a while.  Mostly because we wanted to iron out a few wrinkles in the process but also because her name is very special to us.


For starters, her first name.  We are asked often if we will change her given name, Paulina, and we will not.  We didn't ever really consider it.  We fell in love with her and she has always been Paulina to us.  It just seems to fit.  We are fairly big on name meanings around our house so when I went to look it up I was a bit surprised.  I figured it came from the name Paul, which it does, but I had no idea they both actually mean, little or small.

How interested to think that when Saul was converted he began to be called small.  In a strange way this was incredibly encouraging & comforting to me.  Her name, like the apostle Paul, means small.  Yet it no way does that seem to be attached to size, personality, ability, or any other outward appearance.  Instead, it seems to point to humility.  And to being seen as small in the eyes of the world, but not in the eyes of her Creator.  It gives a recognition to the vastness and greatness of God and our place in light of Him.  Small.  A life that directs others away from oneself, and points to the goodness and glory of God.  I pray this for every day of her life and look forward with great longing to see these truths play out through her.

"He must become greater, I must become less."  
John 3:30

And now, her middle name.  

Paulina Katherine

Paulina's middle name will be Katherine, after Andrew's mama.  She is such an incredible godly woman.  We both look up to her and admire her character and passion for Jesus.  She follows the Lord with her whole heart and leads others by example.  She loves her family so well and makes sacrifices for our good over her own.  She gives generously, prays fervently, and cares deeply.  Her faith is steady and genuine.  I strive myself to be like her.  To love Jesus like her, to love my husband like her, to love my children like her, & to love others like her.  She is full of compassion and grace.  We pray Paulina's life will do as her Gram's does; draw others more into Christ's presence, convict others of sin and righteousness, and give glory to the Lord in every day.  We love you, Gram!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

brill family Christmas

So it's here & time & we are excited.

Been sitting on some Scripture these last weeks that speak to the attitudes of my heart.

"You will make known to me the paths of life.  In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever."  Psalm 16:11

What am I characterized by?  Is it joy?  Do I exude the fullness of joy that comes from walking and being led by Christ?  Or is it more of complaining and as if I am living barely scraping by?  This very encourages me so much...the promises are enormous.  He will make known to me the paths of life.  In His presence is fullness of joy.  At His right hand are pleasures forever.  I desire to experience the fullness of joy that comes from being in His presence.  I long to be characterized by joy that points directly to Christ.  Not happiness or false cheerfulness, but joy that is rooted in faithfully trusting and walking with Jesus.

It makes me smile to think about.  I am praying that as we enter into this Christmas season our family will be more and more characterized by joy and by lives that reflect the fullness of Christ.

On that note, we're trying to be intentional about our Christmas season every year.  First off, I decided this year that I wanted to get done with my shopping before December 1st.  I honestly didn't think I could do it.  The day after Thanksgiving I was way off from my goal but got motivated, made a list, and went to work!  I'd say I pretty much got it done before December 1!  Andrew & I like to take a date night in December to do some shopping for our kids stockings, and I have a few straggling things to finish, but overall, I'm done!  Such a good, good feeling.  My hope and prayer is that I will have a little bit less stress and more time to focus with my family on Christ during this advent season.  

We've also been doing regular advent devotionals with our kids.  Andrew's mom gave us a few years back a Jesse Tree.  It represents the genealogy of Jesus and the daily ornaments and Scripture tell the story of God's salvation plan from creation on.  We have a special 3 foot tree that we set up and put lights on and then each night we take out the next ornament, read the Scripture and talk about what the ornament represents.  The Jesse Tree comes with lots of Scripture you can use but we have pared it down for our kids.  

One of our goals is that our kids would be very familiar with the Christmas story and the people in it.  So we have divided up the Bible stories of Christmas in the Jesus Storybook Bible and we read one a night.  Then we talk about the different people, who they were, what they did or said, why it mattered.  After a few readings they really have been catching on and it is great to watch their little minds expand and learn and ask good questions.

Lastly, we pick one memory verse for the month of December and introduce them to one new Christmas hymn.  This year we are memorizing Matthew 1:21

"She will bear a Son, you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."  

And our hymn is Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.  We have it on a cd and sing it with them during our devotions.  

One thing Andrew has been saying as we've been talking about the birth of Christ is that so often we spend Christmas time very reflective of a past action, a baby being born.  Obviously, that is good and right but he has pointed out that the birth of Christ fulfilled a deep, long, expectant waiting time for all those before Christ.  A promised hope come true.  His birth now leads us to redemption and to our own deep and expectant waiting time; waiting for His return, for a promised hope that will someday come true.  Our hope is that we will instill in our family the excited anticipation of His birth, that we would celebrate that, and that it would push us onward towards excited anticipation of His return.  

       Come, thou long expected Jesus, 

 born to set thy people free; 
 from our fears and sins release us, 
 let us find our rest in thee.  
 Israel's strength and consolation, 
 hope of all the earth thou art; 
 dear desire of every nation, 
 joy of every longing heart.

 Born thy people to deliver, 
 born a child and yet a King, 
 born to reign in us forever, 
 now thy gracious kingdom bring. 
 By thine own eternal spirit 
 rule in all our hearts alone; 
 by thine all sufficient merit, 
 raise us to thy glorious throne.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Madeline's 5th

Five years ago, almost four weeks before my due date, little Madeline made her way into our world.  She was 6 pounds 2 ounces and just precious.  There is nothing that can compare to or explain the first moments of being a mama.  The first holding, the first realizing she is yours, the first tears that fall all over you, her, and her daddy.  These five years have gone so slowly and so quickly...long, slow days but fast moving years.  I can't believe I have a five year.  Everyday is adventurous with Madeline.  She has such a big, tender heart.  She is a good giver.  Whenever it is anyone's birthday she spends hours wrapping up gifts from all over the house in all her blankets and ties bows on each.  Then she spends hours making crafts and cards and spelling out crazy long notes for them.  She is sensitive and kind.  She loves her brother and sisters well.  She plays with them and serves them and asks forgiveness from them when she wrongs them and forgives them when they wrong her.  She has a HUGE imagination and is incredibly creative.  She wanted to make a guitar the other day and patiently and creatively made on with very little help from me.  She started pre-school this year and is loving it.  She tells stories and makes new friends.  She prays for her teachers & friends on the way to school and thinks of ways to love well while she is there.  She is learning so much so fast.  She loves Jesus and is asking more and more about Him each day.  She memorizes verses better than most and loves to read Bible stories.  She has a beautiful smile and a heart that exceeds even that.  We love this little gal like crazy.  So blessed to be her mama and so thankful to be a part of her life.

Madeline really wanted to "ball" for her birthday party.  So we invited several little girl friends over and set up a room to get their hair done, nails done, and pick out a dress to go to the ball!  We played very girly music and they danced and twirled their little hearts out.  It was really cute to watch them all!  Their little faces just lit up as they got all dolled up.  It was a great insight into the ways our daughters desire to know they are significant and beautiful and a great challenge to pray and pursue them to the end that they find all their significance and beauty in Christ.  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

He turns a no into a yes...over and over again

Over a year ago we began asking the Lord to show us what He was stirring up in our hearts.  We had no idea what it was but we both knew it was something.  We prayed we would be available to hear His word and be willing to be led by the Holy Spirit.  We had no idea where He would take us.  We could never have imagined it would be where it is.  And we are so deeply thankful for the journey with Him that has led us to where we are.  

In April we finally knew.  He had led us through prayer, tears, disappointment, friends, and family into joy, understanding, and a little girl who is our daughter.  He led across the world and through it all so we could meet a little girl who has struck so deep into our hearts that we can't not talk about her.  She brings tears of joy to my eyes daily and we are excited to finally be making great strides towards bringing her home.  

Through these last 18 months or so we have watched God do only what He can do which is work all things out for His purposes and His glory.  We've been told NO so many times.  Yet nothing can thwart that which God desires and over and over He has turned those NO's into YES's.

No, she is not eligible.

No, she does not have the right medical information to qualify.
No, we can't get the right papers to be signed.
No, no, no.

The picture was painted.  It wasn't looking good.  Yet truly one by one each no became a yes.  

Yes, we were able to get the papers signed by the right person.

Yes, we were able to take her to the doctor and he was able to accurately diagnose her.
Yes, she is now eligible.

I kept getting these emails from our facilitator saying things like,
this is very big...
this is very good information...
this doesn't usually happen...
this is important and fast for our country....

And now, here we are, finally filling out our paperwork, finally having a picture of when we will get to go and meet this precious little one who has changed our lives in every way for the better.  We love her so much, our kids love her, we all pray for her daily and look forward to her being our family and us be hers.  We chose this verse to pray months ago for our daughter and each time I pray it I am struck by God's goodness.  He takes notice & isn't forgetting the injustice and evil of men.  He knows the needs of the needy and His promise is to place them in the safety for which they long.  Thankful we can be a part of Him fulfilling His promise to our little girl and also to us.  Because she is part of His plans for placing me where I long to be.  Closer to Christ and His purposes in my life.  

“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
    I will now arise,” says the Lord;
“I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
The words of the Lord are pure words, 
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. 
You, O Lord, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever.
On every side the wicked prowl
as vileness is exalted among the children of man."
Psalm 12:5-8

And here she is, the beautiful little girl who has stolen our hearts...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

trip to the dentist

We are super blessed to have a local dentist give all staff families of Andrew's job free dental work.  So, with a 4, 3, & 2 year old, we headed out to the jealous.  But, actually, it really did go well.  All 3 got x-rays & cleanings and all 3 did great.  Anna was like a pro with x-rays considering she had done them several times already because of her skull fracture.  They all like champs relaxed in the dental chairs & got their teeth cleaned and then were sent home with fun goodie bags full of cute little tooth oriented things.  Very proud of them all!  And since then Anna has been OBSESSED with brushing her teeth.  

he wasn't a super fan of the x-rays but was still very cute sitting there.  blurry but i had to keep it.  madeline went first and did so good. she looks so big!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

pumpkin carving

we went pumpkin patchin' in October and had a blast.  kids could basically run all over the pumpkin patch and anna loved being pulled in the wagon.  then we carved and scooped and andrew designed a rocking smiley face.  love fun family days. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

family photos

Rarely do we get a moment or two when all little faces look and smile without threats or bribery.  And even then Anna pretty much always has her thumb in her mouth.  Have I mentioned she actually asks for her thumb sometimes?  As if it isn't attached to her body.  Anyway.  This day was a general exception.  Madeline & Simeon were so cheery and running around and when I said let's take a picture they said yea!  Or at least I will choose to think of it that way.  Because it truly was an easy & fun little impromtu photo session. these babies.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Can hardly believe it but it truly happened.  Andrew & I spent NINE days on vacation in Hawaii.  Just the two of us.  Since having babies, I think we have spent at the most 3 nights away from our kiddos together and not once gotten on an airplane to go somewhere.  About 9 years ago we decided to start saving little by little for a 10 year anniversary trip.  We had no idea how thankful we would be for that!  Technically, our 10th anniversary is June 21, 2013, but we decided to celebrate a little early given adoption timing and other factors.

Andrew surprised me well with this trip because I was fairly certain (and excited about) that we were going to take a trip to California and drive up the coast & enjoy that.  It was more fitting to our savings account.  However, being the incredible husband he is, he had been saving airline miles and credit card points and anything else he could manage to get us to Hawaii.  So last Christmas he surprised me with airplane tickets and a tentative plan to go the following November.  11 whole months of waiting and anticipating and the first of November this year we were off!

So, we headed off to Maui, Kauai, & Oahu with 80 degree temps and a week of sunshine.  We spent the week sleeping lots, reading, dreaming, planning, exploring, swimming, laying in the sun, hiking, taking in the beauty of Hawaii, snorkeling, enjoying a luau, eating out, was so, so nice.  We actually started AND finished conversations.  We walked holding hands in silence and enjoyed one another.  We took in the beauty of God's creation at an incredible waterfall that required 8 miles of hiking to get to.  We had the best time.  So very thankful to be married to Andrew, to live life alongside him, to raise our children together, to pursue Christ together, to be such good friends.  So very blessed.  And so very thankful.

And now, Hawaii picture overload.  Enjoy!