Thursday, December 31, 2009

Adoption Chronicles- The back story, pt. 5

We started working with our adoption agency quite heavily over the next couple of months. We read several books on adoption and parenting and attended many meetings and seminars at their office. There were so many questions to ask on so many topics that we didn’t know where to start.

Many of the books that we read were a great help in us understanding the process we were embarking upon. We read about adoptions both closed and open and how they have been handled throughout the years. We knew given the circumstances of our adoption this far, it was certainly going to be of the open variety and it was exciting to learn about all of the advantages that would come with that. Through the process however, we also discovered the misconceptions that are out there about open adoptions and we found that educating our friends and family (in addition to ourselves!) would be key.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Adoption Chronicles - The back story, pt. 4

Our New York visitors arrived a couple of weeks later and we had a wonderful weekend getting to know each other. They spent plenty of time hanging out at the Mall of America and we cooked many of our favorites for them. We showed them most aspects of our lives, including the church and school. They were able to sit in on a service and hear David lead worship. David and I were already scheduled to sing a duet that week, which ended up bringing them to tears, feeling as though that song was meant just for them. Maybe it was, but we hadn’t literally chosen the song for them. It really just fit the service thematically! They also had the unique opportunity to meet with a friend of ours who had adopted three times, and (with the help of our agency) a birthmother who ironically had placed her child with our same friend. This enabled them to see both sides of a successful adoption story and ask any questions that they had. At the end of the weekend, the birthparents sent their mothers off for a while and shared with us that they’d made the decision to place their baby for adoption and asked if we’d be willing to adopt. Thrilled, yet still slightly guarded, we accepted.

The next four months were spent continuing to learn about adoption, completing our home study, and nurturing the new relationship that we’d begun with these two people who were making the most selfless decision I could imagine.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Adoption Chronicles - The back story, pt. 3

Meanwhile, the majority of our friends only knew that we were starting the adoption process. We had only let just a couple of friends in on the NY possibility so that they could offer their prayer support. Later that same week I received a text message from our dear friend Laurel in Michigan. Like most other friends, Laurel only knew that we were beginning the process. Her text message read “You have a precious baby girl in your near future.” I texted back “Would you like to elaborate?” She responded “What’s to elaborate on? You’re getting a baby girl very soon!” I called her and asked where this was coming from and she explained that she’d spent some time in prayer for our adoption that morning and three things became very clear to her. The first was that our adoption was not going to take as long as we think it will. Most adoptions take a couple of years or more, and ours was not going to take that long. The second thing was that our baby was already on its way. It’s already been created and is less than 9 months away. The third thing (enter her disclaimer because she knew we’d think she was crazy) was that the baby was a girl. She didn’t know why, but she was just positive on all three of these things. I then confessed to her our big secret about the possibility that we had been pursuing in New York, complete with the slipped announcement of the baby being a girl. For the first time since we’ve known her, Laurel was speechless. (Just kidding Laurel, we love you!). If we needed any more confirmation that God’s hand was in this adoption, this was it.

Adoption Chronicles - The back story, pt. 2

I decided to write a letter to this young pregnant girl with an enormous decision ahead of her. Instead of approaching it with the I-hope-we-get-to-adopt-her-baby mentality, I chose to do what I could to share our story, as a couple who has chosen to adopt. I knew she had a laundry list of fears, anxieties, and unknowns regarding adoption, and although it was new territory for us as well, I thought it might be good for her to at least hear that most people who are looking to adopt are really just good people who want to be parents more than anything. We corresponded a little back and forth over the next couple of months and in August she made the decision that she wanted to meet us face-to-face.

Plans took root for both birthparents and their mothers to fly to Minnesota for a weekend to get to know us. We were excited about the possibility that this offered but still remained guarded. We’d already experienced so much disappointment in our venture towards parenthood, we had to protect our hearts. While on the phone with the birthmother’s mom discussing the coming trip she offered to tell me the gender of the baby. Though I wanted to know, I knew that knowing would make it more difficult to distance myself, so I opted to wait. Though later in the conversation, she slipped and used “her” describing the baby, I pretended I hadn’t heard.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Adoption Chronicles - The back story, pt. 1

After 6 years of trying to become parents, we made the decision this past spring to pursue domestic adoption. We had done some research, talked to friends, and had finally chosen the agency we would be working through. After filling out a preliminary application we were scheduled to attend our first informational meeting to find out what this process would entail. Two days before that meeting, something happened that couldn’t have been more unexpected.

It was a Sunday afternoon, and my parents called from NY where my dad pastors a Wesleyan church. Apparently that morning a woman from their congregation approached my mom and shared that her young daughter had become pregnant. Just a couple of weeks prior on Mother’s Day Sunday, this woman was sitting in church listening as my dad prayed for all of the mothers and the women who longed to be mothers, and felt the Holy Spirit tell her that this baby was to be a gift for the pastor’s daughter. Though she’d never met us or knew about our struggles or new decision to adopt, she then asked my mom if David and I would be interested in adopting her daughter’s baby. Flabbergasted, my mom told her she’d certainly ask us. As my mom shared this with me over the phone, I kept hearing this little voice in my head saying, “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” However, I wasn’t about to close the door without at least peeking in.

Adoption Chronicles - Overview...

Howdy all!

This is an explanation of the series that we are starting here on the blog called the "Adoption Chronicles." Over the next series of posts, we will be telling the story of our road to parenthood. So, for those of you who are interested, tune in! For those of you who just want to hear about other Gafford happenings, just ignore the Chronicles and tune into the other posts. So, thus we begin...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Test, Test, 1, 2, 3...

Just checking settings between Twitter, Facebook, and the blog. :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Backstage with the gang...

I'm sitting backstage with the worship team from this weekend, and we have egg bake, crackers & cheese, BBQ sausages, nacho dip, and so much more. A huge thanks to my loving wife Melissa who helped me get this all together over the past 3 weeks for the team. Also a special thanks to mom Gafford who helped with the prep during their recent visit to MN.

This weekend at church we are doing the experiential worship stations with tables all around the worship center, but I can't help but wonder if I was sitting in the crowd if my nose wouldn't lead me to the table backstage loaded with these goodies. We can worship God with food, right?!

Here's a pic of Pam enjoying the festivities... :) Thanks for all you do here at Five Oaks you great volunteers!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The baby furniture arrived on Sunday and David surprised me yesterday by building it during the day while I was at work. Special thanks goes out to Bryan for helping David! No real accessories yet to speak of, but the room is finally cleaned up, furniture assembled, and baby clothes put away in the dresser. I'm feeling more and more ready every day! (Which is good since she's due in 15 days!)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Classroom antics

This week in our Bible curriculum we've been learning about Queen Esther and how she was unselfish to risk her life by approaching the king to save the Jews. In their workbooks they were asked to write a letter to Esther to tell her ways that they can also be unselfish. One little girl wrote, "Dear Esther, I can be unselfish by when it's Christmas time I can ask for lots and lots of presents." I knelt down and told her that asking for lots and lots of presents sound like it's selfish not unselfish. We're trying to list ways to be UNselfish. She asked me what unselfish meant. I told her that unselfish is when you think of other's needs before your own. It's the opposite of selfish. She got this look on her face and said, "Oh. I've never done that before." I couldn't help but laugh and just suggested that it might be time to start trying.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Deals

We took advantage of Black Friday and bought our nursery furniture today. This is a picture of the crib on display. There weren't any in the store so we'll still have to wait a week or two before the joys of assembling said furniture. Any volunteers to help?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Skype with the Kentucky Liddicks...

Following dinner with the Shivers this afternoon, we had an opportunity to skype with Melissa's family down in Kentucky over the webcam. Our nephew Brogan joined us today, and boy has he gotten big since we've seen him last. (I also think he looks alot like the E-Trade baby...) Allie was tormented by the family with offers of treats and walks that couldn't be fulfilled by those who promised, so we'll have to love on her a little extra tonight. :) Great to see the family even though we couldn't be with them over the holidays. How cool is technology? I give it two thumbs up.

Thanksgiving with the Shivers

David and Becca Shivers joined us for Thanksgiving this afternoon. Both families are away from our parents and extended families while up in Minnesota, so today we join together to feast.

Melissa's beautiful table prior to dinner, the bird is carved, and the rolls are in the oven. Happy Thanksgiving to all, it's time to eat!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Past due for an update!

I'm starting this post with no real agenda in mind for what to write. I'm just realizing that we've been neglecting the blog and there's certainly plenty that's happened in the past month that I could write about. So here are the highlights...

1. We've been saying it since spring, but the Gaffords are on a serious hunt for a new (used) vehicle. We looked off and on throughout the summer, feeling like it was time to trade in one of our two vehicles (probably the truck) since they are both about 10 years old. It's best to replace them one at a time than be forced to trade both in all at once. However, the "perfect deal" never really jumped out at us and we got a little lazy in our search. We had a hard time falling off the log to make a decision. Interestingly, God pushed us off the log about a week and a half ago when David got rear-ended, totalling our truck. He and three other church staff members were driving to lunch when the car in front of him stopped abruptly to make an illegal left-hand turn. David was able to screech to a stop in time, but the truck behind him was unable to and plowed into the back of the Expedition. Thankfully, no one was hurt and the only damage was done to the vehicles. The funny thing about it all is that we ended up getting more $$ for the truck through our insurance than we would have if we'd traded it in at a dealer. It's all working out. In the mean time, David and I are enjoying a little extra time together sharing rides until we can make a decision on a new vehicle.

2. I love second grade! I am having such a great time teaching this year. I'm not sure if it's because I didn't teach last year, or if I've just got such a super group of kids, or what. But most days I can't help but have a giant smile on my face because I enjoy my students so much. I feel blessed to be able to say that!

3. Preparations for Baby Girl Gafford are slowly under way. I have a long-term sub picked out for my family leave from school. We spent about 3 1/2 hours at school last Saturday just trying to get her oriented in to the classroom. David's in the process of trying to find a temporary replacement for him while we're away in New York for a couple of weeks. He also has to have a good solid plan B for the Christmas Eve services just in case we have to leave earlier than planned. We won't be having any showers until after we bring her home, so right now we're just trying to sort through the "wants" and "needs" for that first month. :-)

Well, I think that's probably good for now. We've been so hit and miss on the blog for a while now, and it won't be long before we'll have a WHOLE LOT to blog about! (We'll try to post at least once more before then!) :-)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Staining Day!

After the snow that we were "blessed" with earlier in the week, we were beginning to wonder if we'd ever be able to finish the huge task of staining our house before winter officially hit. Fortunately the weather warmed up for the weekend and we were able to bribe our friends with food in exchange for their manual labor! We're not finished yet, and there are still a couple places that are just out of our reach. However, we got a LOT accomplished today thanks to Scott, Kerri, Jimmy, Bryan, Ryan, and Jen. We just may be able to finish this job after all!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Adoption Update

We shared earlier in the summer that we'd started the adoption process. Since I wasn't working during the summer, we were able to push through the home study process more quickly than normal. As the home study is nearly complete, the next step would normally be for us to put our profile into a pool from which prospective birthparents could choose us. However, God had different plans for our adoption...

We won't be placing our profile into a pool. God has matched us with a baby all on his own. And she's coming in just a couple of short months, due at the end of December. It has been truly amazing to witness God's hand through this whole process. I look forward to sharing more of our story over the coming months.
In the mean time, we're busily trying to prepare for her arrival. So I have a question for you... What baby products can I not do without? I would love to hear your suggestions!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Famous Dave's Day...

A couple of weeks ago Famous Dave's restaurant celebrated their anniversary and offered any Dave, David, or Davey a free meal. So, I called my friend Dave and we decided to give it a shot, and free ribs were offered, devoured, and enjoyed. We even got a nametag to proudly wear around town touting to all that we are of the privileged few. Thanks Famous Dave's for a great afternoon and Happy Anniversary!

I Wish I Were An...

What's more to say... :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Happy beginning of the school year!

Here are the 18 munchkins that will be taking up so much of my time this year.... and I'm sure entertaining me all along the way.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Grandma Foster would be so proud!

I broke out my sewing machine for the first time in a couple of years yesterday. Years ago Grandma Foster spent about a week with us teaching me the art of sewing. Unfortunately it's the kind of skill that unless practiced often, gets easily forgotten (at least in my case). Or maybe I'll rephrase that in saying that the skills may still be there, but the confidence in those skills is lacking. My friend Sadie spent the morning with me yesterday and kept me company while I reunited with my sewing machine. We worked together to transform a shower curtain (which matched my new bathroom rug and hand towel) into curtains for my 1/2 bath.

I was having so much fun after that project that I kept at it after Sadie left and made pillow shams to match the guest room curtains. I'd purchased an extra set of curtains probably 9 months ago, thinking that I would do this, but never had the confidence to actually dig in and try.

Grandma has been gone for several years now, but I'm so thankful that I had that opportunity to learn from her before she passed away. Now every time I pull out my sewing machine (which hopefully will be more often now...) I'm reminded of my grandma and what a talented lady she was with a needle and thread!

(Grandma Foster with Mike and me at Disney World back in '81)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Read ahead!

I've just spent the last hour and a half updating our blog..... finally. Read ahead to find out what we've been up to this month!

Summerfest 2009

This evening was our second annual "Summerfest" at Five Oaks Church. Here are a few pictures from the event!

The first hour, we volunteered...

Melissa helped roast marshmallows at the firepit.

While David took pictures of his shadow (and other things as well).

After that we enjoyed burgers and brats with our friends and finished the evening with a little improv comedy with Comedy Sportz. It was a fun time and we were blessed with beautiful weather for the event!

Garden update

Well, some things in our vegetable garden seem to be doing very well, while other things gave up quite a while ago. On Friday we were able to harvest our first fruits of the garden. I'd never grown broccoli before so I wasn't real sure what I was getting into. It was looking like it was ready to harvest, so I did a little research online first just to be sure. After cutting the heads off (that sounds bad, doesn't it?), I brought them inside and gave them a warm bath in water with vinegar because I'd read online that would help rid the broccoli of any stowaways. Post bath, there were a few at the bottom of the sink so I assumed we were good to go, chopped up the broccoli and proceeded to steam away. As I was plating up the broccoli, I noticed a slightly pale looking caterpillar on one of my pieces and nearly lost my appetite altogether. We spent the next 5 minutes meticulously inspecting every piece of broccoli for more caterpillars and found 2 more and some kind of egg sack (eek!). We traded plates and double inspected each other's broccoli. Finally, we worked up the courage to still eat it, even though it was mostly cold by that point. The verdict: in spite of the uneasy feeling we had eating food that we'd just picked caterpillars out of, it was better than any broccoli we'd ever eaten from the grocery store. I just learned a lesson that day. Next time I will inspect my broccoli MUCH more thoroughly before ever considering cooking it. It makes me think a little about how carelessly I "wash" the broccoli I bring home from the store..... hmmmm.

To Indiana and Back

Two weeks ago we made a spontaneous trip down to Indiana and back. David's dad ended up in the hospital in Ft. Wayne for a couple of days and we thought he was going to require some pretty serious surgery for a while. He broke his nose in a few places and had several ruptured/bulged discs in his neck from a fall. Thankfully the Lord healed him enough that surgery didn't look necessary and the doctors have decided to see how things heal on their own. By the time David and I arrived and saw him, he was doing so much better we teased David's mom that it was all just some big elaborate (expensive) hoax just to get us down there. Once we were down there, we decided to just make a vacation out of it and stayed for several days. It was good to be able to visit with some family and see our nieces again. On our last night there we were able to pop on over to Ivanhoes for some ice cream and strawberry shortcake.

David's cup raneth over and made a very big mess!

Instead of driving straight home (about an 11 hour drive), we decided to split up the trip and spend the night in Chicago. We pricelined a hotel in Schaumburg for $35. Though my family lived in the Chicago area for 10 years, it was all after I graduated from high school so I've come to discover that I had somehow missed out on some Chicago staples. So we made a point to stay in the area long enough for 3 meals. We had lunch at Portillos so I could enjoy my Chicago style hotdog....

We had dinner at our favorite restraunt Rosebuds on Rush after watching Cirque Shanghii on Navy Pier. (no pictures of dinner or the show...)

And we had lunch the next day at Giordannos for my first authentic Chicago style deep dish pizza.

This post makes it look like we live for food. Well, when we're on vacation.... we kind of do!

Small Group Twins game

A few weeks ago, a small group of our "small" group went to the Twins v. Yankees game in Minneapolis. Our seats were really good (not really)! This should give you an idea of what I mean...

The Yankees smoked us pretty bad and most of the fans left the stadium long before the end of the game. You can see here how we were pretty much the only ones left in the last inning.

That was ok though; we had fun anyway!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Liddick family Christmas in June

When your family is spread out all across the US (NY, MN, KY, AZ), you celebrate holidays whenever you can and for a family in ministry, that's not always during the actual holiday. We decided to give Christmas in June a try this year and I think it's a new tradition that just might stick. Traveling in June is a lot easier than in December and there's much more that you can do together, rather than being cooped up in the house (not a winter sports family). We decided to meet in Kentucky at Matt and Brianne's house since they just had a baby recently. We were delighted to find this on their door when we arrived.

They had also put out their nativity and a small Christmas tree. It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Our first day there was "Christmas Eve", so what better activity than to go Christmas Caroling! It turns out that Matt and Brianne have become good friends with Joe Wells, who David and I knew from his internship at CWC in Michigan. So the four of us sported our scarves (it was probably 85 degrees at the time) and sang "Silent Night" for Joe and his wife. I admit, I mostly giggled and didn't get too many lyrics out.

On Christmas day (which coincidentally fell on June 25, exactly 6 months from and till the actual holiday) we all met at Olive Garden for our main meal at lunch time. Our waitress got a real kick out of hearing what we were celebrating (or at least she pretended real well).

After lunch we all went to see "UP." Loved it! Very heart warming. Brogan was a champ and snuggled his uncle Mike during the whole movie.

We returned to Matt and Brianne's for the remainder of the afternoon/evening and opened presents together.
Waiting for the festivities to begin.

Brogan says thank you for the Cubs blanket Aunt Melissa made him.

I finally upgraded my favorite movie from VHS to Blu Ray!Aunt Melissa was the lucky duck that got to snuggle Brogan during Christmas!

I wasn't sure what to expect, this being our first time celebrating Christmas not even remotely close to the actual holiday. But I was pleasantly surprised. Every family has their own traditions. Being a pastor's family, we've always been fairly flexible with our traditions and have remained open to trying new traditions along the way. There are a few things that have held consistent along the way. The one thing that really truly matters was that we were all together, which was a blessing. Many Christmases that's just not a possibility. I think for us, it's more important to find a time, any time, that we can all be together; and that's what made it feel like Christmas...even in June.

The Liddick family
** June 2009 **

Monday, June 22, 2009

A New Journey

David and I have officially entered into a new journey today. Only the Lord knows how long the journey will be and what the trip will look like. We submitted our application for (domestic) adoption today. We would appreciate your prayers as we continue to learn about the whole process and work through the necessary steps along the way. We're excited to discover what God has in store for our little family!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Food, friends, and flowers

When you are a "trans-plant" to the state where you live, and you have no family around, it is SUCH a blessing to have some "old" friends nearby. Dan and Angie are a good hour north of us, but we're so fortunate to have two fun cities, full of lots of things to do between us. We met on Monday in St. Paul at Como Park for a picnic. We probably spent 2 hours just sitting at the picnic table at the edge of the park, eating and talking. After that we popped over to the Conservatory to enjoy the beautiful flowers. We'd taken my parents to the Zoo a couple of years ago and that was a bit on the disappointing side, but the Conservatory was beautiful. (However, it does make me want to spend too much money on my own flower gardens at home...).

Dan and Angie Leverence

Melissa and Angie
Dan and David

Monday, June 15, 2009

Our new kitty?

Melissa's been doing quite a bit of gardening lately, and we've discovered a cat living underneath our smoker BBQ grill. The grill has a cover, and over the past couple of days there has been a "mewing" coming from underneath. Yesterday the kitten emerged to pull on our heartstrings a little, but we remained strong. If we start feeding this stray, then mom Liddick can't ever come to visit, and we love our parents/inlaws!

This cat has an adorable face with huge "Precious Moments" eyes, but you can tell it's had a few run-ins with other animals in the woods. There's a hefty chunk taken out of one of it's hind quarters and the tail looks a bit weird.

We had our small group meeting tonight and the cat sat outside the open windows and meowed during most of the meeting. At one point it actually jumped up on the window; startled us all to death.

And this is where it sits now. Sitting outside our front door, pleading to come inside. If this keeps up, we may have to call someone.

An Evening Out With Nacho Mamas...

Sunday evening I decided to take my lovely wife out to Stillwater and see what all the fuss was about surrounding a mexican place called Nacho Mamas. For those of you who aren't native to Minnesota, Stillwater is a small berg on the East side of the state nestled up against the St. Croix River. The downtown area is old and thriving! I can't believe that there are this many people out and about in an old downtown anymore. Finding a parking place is extremely difficult due to the lack thereof, but if you ever get the chance to drive up and visit a place called Nacho Mamas, it will be worth it all.

Melissa and I sat down and ordered what we hear is their signature nachos and a smothered burrito. The waitress looked confused, but just said, "You mean the small order of nachos, right?" We said sure and she proceeded to tell us that the large order usually feeds 5 adults. For only $12, it looks like you could eat for less here than your local burger joint.

Our meals came and we knew we were in trouble. The burrito probably weighed about 5 pounds, and the nachos were more than the two of us alone could eat. Fantastic company, delicious food and portions big enough for my old high school basketball team. What a fun night.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day

Sorry about the lapse in posts. I may have no readers left by now!

We enjoyed the beautiful weather yesterday with some great friends and delicious food. Several couples from our small group came over to join us for the evening. We grilled brats, burgers, and corn, and when we were full we played. The guys played bocce ball outside and the girls played scrabble. I thought I had the game in the bag but Emily beat me by one point on her last move. Too bad. I think I might demand a re-match.