Adoption Update – We’ve Got Cabin Fever!

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If the Hall Family were a ship right now, I’d tell you that we are sailing through the doldrums. The wind has stopped blowing, and our adoption momentum has come to a stand still. We are waiting for the State of Texas to certify us as being able to adopt. Our caseworker, during her last visit, had made it seem like we would be certified quickly… and the weeks go on…

In the meantime, we have been asked to put together a book, a family brochure if you will. Our book will aid in helping Future Hall get to know us/transition into our family. Besides a few pending items, we are almost finished putting the book together.

If you are the praying sort, please pray that:

  • Our certification would be approved by the State8/8 Update: We are approved!
  • That our caseworker, with God’s help, would be able to find the right child for our family

Hopefully, as we wait for our next step, we won’t be writing/staging any elaborate productions. Then again, maybe a little bit of creativity would help us as we sail through the adoption doldrums. Until next time.

Bryan

From Across the Net – “Three Cautions and Encouragements for Dads”

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Photo by Scott Goodwill on Unsplash

The “plan dragon” is one of those I’ve had to battle for years. Thankful for God’s grace and how we grow, as parents, as our children grow.

When I was setting up our new family tent, a big part of my frustration sparked because I had plans and my daughter interrupted them. Most of our anger and annoyance happens when our plan (or our kingdom) becomes threatened or disturbed.

The very people we’re trying to serve and love become the problem in our eyes. They ruin our plan—even if that plan is to make memories with them—so we get angry.

You can read more here

From Across the Net – “Infertility Prepared Me to Reach Other Childless Men”

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Infertility, at times, whispers to me in the darkest recesses of my soul. Telling me that I am a failure.

I am thankful for those, in my church, who have dared to bridge this gap. I am thankful for a God, who loves my wife and I so much, that He has called us out of the grieving process and into adoption. That doesn’t mean that we don’t still have bad days. 9 years of nothing still haunts us. No, this means that we now focus on what He can provide… versus us. I am thankful for His hope.

This piece about gutted me this morning. Reminds me that Satan speaks into the silence of where fellow Christians are afraid to go… But we have to.

“I have so many questions about why this isn’t happening for us,” Neil told me, “and what we should try next.” For Neil, these questions included the ethics of using donor eggs or donor sperm, whether an adopted child would ever feel like “his own,” plus age-old questions about God and suffering. This is hard terrain to navigate, one I have seen precipitate theological shifts into unorthodox territory when people lack pastoral guidance.

“All my friends are fathers and grandfathers,” another man told me. “And me? I’m nothing.” When infertility robs you of being a father, what else can you become? This can be a key question for infertile men.

You can read more here

 

38th Birthday – Showered in Board Games

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I recently celebrated my 38th birthday. This is the first year, that I can remember, not receiving anything video game-related. Instead, thanks to generous/loving family and friends, I was drowned in board games!

I can’t tell if this means that I am growing up… or what.

The Mind

Wyatt and Tabitha gave me the card game, The Mind. Imagine playing with three to four other people. On level 1 (there are 12 levels), you are each given a single card. Without talking, signaling, or having to take ordered turns, you each have to place your cards down in sequential order. If someone plays their card out of numerical order, you lose one of your 3 lives. Once all 3 lives are gone it is game over.

Tabitha, Wyatt, and I played a few rounds of The Mind and became frustrated. The lack of communication makes the game difficult combined with a certain level of patience that is needed. Tabitha and I played the game later on that evening and had a great time. We even made it to level 8 (which equals each player having 8 cards in their hands to place down). There is something about The Mind which shouldn’t work but is almost magical when it does. I love the concept of it.

Azul is a tile-based game which was super fun. I’d like to play this again soon.

Star Wars: Destiny

The RavingLuhn sent me a copy of Star Wars: Destiny (thanks again, Joe!). Tab and I had a time with the rules. So we watched a Youtube video. The video we ended up watching was less about how to play and more about strategy. We are planning on watching the official Fantasy Flight Games video when we get a chance to play again. I like the dice mechanics. (Saving the video below for later.)

My brother-in-law and his family brought donuts over for breakfast on my birthday. We indulged in greasy goodness, conversed, and then got in the pool. They went home after the pool and we had a quiet afternoon until Tab’s parents came over that evening. I fired up the BBQ and cooked some chicken that Tab had marinated in a balsamic dressing. I then topped the chicken with cheese, tomatoes, and some avocado (except for Tab’s dad, who dislikes the green fruit). All which equaled an amazing birthday dinner.

My co-workers gave me a birthday card this year.

Getting closer to the big 4-0. Whatever that means…

Adoption Update – Hurry Up And Wait

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We started our PRIDE Classes in April. With severe weather pushing the 40 hours of training right up against our vacation to California in early May. Our home study was turned into the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services as of yesterday. By all accounts, listening to others who have gone through this adoption process, we are moving through the required steps quickly.

Photo by Xu Haiwei on Unsplash

Hurry up and wait seems to be the mantra. We’ll go for weeks without hearing anything and then get a phone call that forces us to drop everything and complete a task. God has been good to us during this period of waiting, preparing our family for who is to come.

Wyatt was recently singing in a church service with our children’s program at church. As Tabitha and I watched him sing, I thought to myself, we could soon be watching someone else too.

The lack of an outward indicator that someone is coming, say a stomach growing due to the baby inside, is odd. So are all of the details we do not know.

BUT, we are getting closer to that day when our family grows from three to four. So many changes ahead… and we have to temper our excitement like a kid before Christmas.

Stop thinking you’ll adopt a baby

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We were towards the end of our PRIDE training when our PRIDE Trainer dropped a news bomb:

“If you are thinking you are going to adopt a baby, you need to quit thinking that. If you want to adopt a baby, you will have to foster.”

With no prior mention or warning, in all of our 40 hours worth of state-mandated classroom training, we were all stunned! One of the adoptive couples (our class was mostly made up of adoption only couples with but a few couples looking to foster/adopt) started to cry. Our trainer continued talking about how her supervisor wanted her to make that announcement (CPS pushes for foster families… I get it.). She went on to talk to us about how the system works, etc. But the baby bomb had been dropped.

Abortion has been the political ice cream flavor of the month lately. With news pieces on:

The couples in our foster and adoption classes reminded me that there are MANY couples out there who want to adopt; couples who would love to adopt the baby of the disabled woman in the above linked article.

Photo by insung yoon on Unsplash

We have the choice to be a culture of life. A culture that fights for those who cannot speak in the womb. A culture that embraces adoption and gives life a chance.

You never know who that baby is going to grow up to be.

Anxiety – The Faulty Spider-Sense

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Ever since our interview/home study, this past Saturday, my chest has hurt. My anxiety is telling me something is wrong.

Work has been a little crazy lately. Two of my co-workers are taking over as owners of my firm at the end of the week. My boss of 11 plus years is:

  • Stepping down
  • Becoming an employee
  • AND still managing/not changing his boss role at the same time

Reality equals that I’ve suddenly added two additional bosses in addition to my current boss; reality equals now having to juggle completing tasks for all three bosses while not making my current boss mad that I’m working for the two newer bosses. Confused? I am. I think I can safely say that the learning curve is going to be high for everyone… and has already been difficult for me.

This should say: DO MORE NOW, BRYAN!

My pastor announced his resignation on Father’s Day. He has been with our church just short of seven years. I am in the Camp of Hurt right now. Stunned by his announcement and questioning why he is leaving. We were told that nothing is wrong, that his leaving is due to him feeling God tell him that it is time. I’m trying to focus on how it is good that he is being obedient to God’s calling him away. BUT I can’t help but think of:

  • The upcoming interim period, while we search for a new pastor
  • The debt my church is now in due to the children’s building we built
  • How the person who led us into that debt, who asked us to step out in faith, is leaving

I’m hurt but also recognize that loyalty is a big deal for me. I also recognize that hurt from past church leaders lingers on. I have gotta let go and see the bigger God picture.

Our home life feels like it is about to change with adoption. The interview/home study made this feel more real.

My work life has become more unstable than normal with having to suddenly deal with three chiefs versus one.

And church stuff has just been icing on the cake.

My anxiety is telling me that something is wrong, like a faulty Spider-Sense. Things might not be wrong but they are definitely changing. And who likes change?

This past week, as I was listening to a sermon, God reminded me that He calls us where we are WITH what we have. It is in change that our faith is stretched. I don’t want to be stretched, but I do at the same time. I want to grow in my faith. You?

Bryan

P.S. Thankful that God is my constant.

From Across the Net – “When They Call In The Night”

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God is such a better dad than I am, and I think that’s what Jesus’ point is. When his followers wanted to know how to pray, yes, he gave them a template they could follow, but he gave them something so much more. Instead of giving them the magic formula, the special incantation that will bring God out like a genie from a bottle—Jesus gave them something so much better. When asked about how to pray, Jesus gave them an example but then said, “I want to let you in on a secret—you want to know how to pray, but let me tell you about the one to whom you are praying.” Jesus was saying that when we call in the night, it’s good to know the character of our dad.

You can read more here

 

Fatherhood has taught me forgiveness

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The whole concept of a dad can be challenging for some men. Many have grown up without having a dad in their life. Some of us even had dads that had to work outside of the home, for days on end, to support the family. Anger, resentment, and even a quest to fill that dad-shaped hole can occur.

I am thankful for the men that God brought into my life, as my dad was out working to provide for our family.

I am thankful for my Grandpa Ayers. For him sharing his love for the outdoors, radio controlled everything, and tabletop games. For showing me and my brother that slingshots, knives, and guns are cool toys (when properly respected) to play with. I’ll never forget our late nights playing Chess OR my Grandpa letting my brother and I build our own fires (FIRE!). His unexpected death at 60 years of age still haunts me in some ways. I have found that grief is ever changing but forever there. I am thankful for the time he invested in my siblings and I; thankful for the time that I got to spend with him.

Photo by Jordan Sanchez on Unsplash

For the longest time, I retreated into negative emotions concerning my own dad. Unable to see the bigger picture of what it means to provide… unable (still unable) to see through the family fog-of-war of the example his dad left him with when it came to interacting with family. For years, even as an adult, I’ve wanted more from my dad… But I’ve learned that whatever it is I have wanted from him, I have built into my relationship with Wyatt. Letting the past go, letting anger go, has allowed me to see my dad for who he is instead of who I wanted him to be.

My dad, Steven, is an amazing guy. He is funny, insightful, and a hard worker. The older I get, the more I appreciate him AND realize how much I am like him. I wish I had been able to push past what is deemed, in Christian circles, as a “father wound” sooner. Arriving at a point where I can accept my dad for who he is is priceless. Being able to see the bigger picture, where other men were allowed to step in and teach me and my siblings, and not resent that, is liberating.

All of the above to say, Father’s Day is this weekend. Chuck Lawless reposted a piece this morning that resonated with me titled “8 Reflections on Being Childless and Celebrating Father’s Day“. I encourage you to check it out.

These greeting card holidays can stir the emotions!

Happy early Father’s Day.

The Parenting Foxhole

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I’ve learned that parenting is full of moments where I have no clue what to do. It was in one of those moments that my wife reminded me how thankful I am to be parenting with her. 
 
Recently, we encountered a situation that called for an emergency strategy session. I had no idea how to proceed.
 
Tabitha looked at me, “I’ve got this.”
 
And she did. I walked back into our back hallway, right outside Wyatt’s room, and listened to her talk to him. A shining ambassador of grace, wisdom, and truth. I was in awe of how Tabitha handled the situation; a situation that she deescalated with poise.
Photo by Bill Jelen on Unsplash

I was ready to launch a rocket.

I have to admit, I’m not sure I would have handled the situation in the same way. But it was in that moment that I found myself thankful. Thankful for our different parenting strengths.
Tabitha, I love you. Thank you for sharing the parenting foxhole that we are in. I love the way you are able to speak to our son in a way that is hard for me. I can’t imagine doing this parenting thing without you. I am excited for where we are going as we add to our family. We can do this, together. I love you baby.
 
Bryan

From Across the Net – “Things I’ve learned from being adopted”

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Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

This is heavy… but good. Thankful Malinda chose to share this.

Adoption starts with trauma.
Perhaps this doesn’t seem like something to rejoice in. It’s actually not. But, it’s something that is important to grasp and accept when it comes to thinking about adoption. The majority of adoptions start with trauma. I hesitate to use the sweeping word “all” here, but I struggle to think of an adoption scenario that wouldn’t involve some element of trauma to at least the child involved. I think so often we can have a glorified view of adoption—and I don’t want to diminish its merit—but to bypass this root element of adoption is to lessen its messy beauty.

I have learned that when root-issues are overlooked—and this applies beyond adoption—there can’t be a solid foundation for anything to be built on top. Without a solid foundation, whatever was built will surely crumble.

You can read more here

On My Radar – BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL!

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Picked up BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! over the weekend. Tried the co-op out with Wyatt. Gameplay is tight AND requires a bit of communication (re: patience). 😛

Looking forward to trying out the single-player.

From Across the Net – “4 Painful Lies Stay-at-Home Moms Tell Themselves”

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Jasmine Holmes, writing from The Gospel Coalition, has a great article titled “4 Painful Lies Stay-at-Home Moms Tell Themselves“.

I’m a stay-at-home mom because I’m striving to obey God’s calling on my life. He’s given me gifts, talents, and abilities that I steward while devoting most of my time to my family. We prayerfully made these decisions for our family; they’re not a judgment call on yours.

The stay-at-home mom life doesn’t define me any more than my professional life defined me—Christ’s death on the cross does. Staying home isn’t the most important detail about me. My identity as Christ’s daughter is.

You can read more here

I’ve also written on this topic before here

I’m In Love – Star Wars: Episode IX Teaser Trailer

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I can’t wait to see how this wraps up Rey’s story. After The Last Jedi, the table has been swept clean story-wise. Hoping JJ Abrams uses some of his magic like he did in The Force Awakens.

Pulleys, Rope, and Spider-Man

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Wyatt and I played in the backyard yesterday. We built an aerial tram! Funny what two pulleys and a length of rope can spark, imagination-wise.

Spider-Man's other job.

Spider-Man riding like only a spider can.

Backyard aerial tram

I was amazed at how effective the clothes hanger was in acting as a point of attachment for the tram.

That’s what we’ve been up to in our backyard, how about you?

From Across the Net – “5 Most Common Mistakes Dads Make”

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BJ Foster, with All Pro Dad, writes on the “5 Most Common Mistakes Dads Make“. I especially liked this one (bolded emphasis mine):

2. Being Overly Critical

When it comes to teaching our kids we have to choose our spots, especially when pointing out when they have erred. Our kids need to know that we are their best ally, not their worst critic. You don’t need to have a discussion about every mistake they make. They probably are aware already that they messed up. Instead, ask them questions about how they feel, what they think they might have done different, and then give them encouragement. Tell them stories of your own failures at the same age. Listening and empathizing will earn you currency. Also, make sure you get excited and ask a lot of questions when they experience success. That will be their favorite subject.

You can read more here

New Adventures

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Fourteen years ago, at a college preview day for Azusa Pacific University, I was handed a brochure with the image of a rubber band ball.

Below the rubber band ball the brochure read: “Prepare to be stretched“. I had no clue how much stretching was about to occur…

But I can feel God beginning to stretch me and my family again. Preparing us for a new adventure.

God has been reminding me that being obedient to Him can be uncomfortable and exciting at the same time. Can’t wait to share more when I am at a point to do so.

Thank you, as always, for reading my blog and joining me and my family on this journey through life. Until next time.

– Bryan

For the Love of Strategy Games

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I blame my Grandpa Ayers for my love of strategy games. How he taught my siblings and I how to move Chess pieces around the board. Which then translated to late night Chess matches while on camping trips with him. There is something nostalgic about playing Chess while eating prunes, graham crackers, and M&M’s. It is no wonder my stomach was usually so upset on those trips into the mountains.

Note: I’m the kid in the far back with the mop hair.

I have tried to share my love of strategy games with my son Wyatt. Teaching him how to move the knight, the rook, and the bishop in Chess. Also sharing with him the other game my Grandpa loved, Stratego. All the while branching out into Hall family favorites Carcassonne and Catan Jr. (I’ll note here: Never play Catan Jr. with Wyatt. He will win. Kid quickly figured out how to game the game.)

This past December, I decided to go deeper into the strategy game depths. Having read reviews, I intentionally asked for My Little Scythe for Christmas.

My Little Scythe

My Little Scythe has been perfect at teaching us how to see the bigger game picture amidst all the smaller moving pieces. I love it.

Wyatt recently came home from a homeschool park day with a deck of Magic: The Gathering (MTG) cards. He said that the other homeschool kids had been playing and had taught him how to play. Now I know that MTG can be an expensive hobby, due to having to buy new cards blindly in order to build powerful decks. I wanted to push past the expense AND further our strategy horizons, so I picked up a box of Dice Throne: Season 2 – Gunslinger v. Samurai.

Dice Throne: Season 2

My wife, Tabitha, is amazing at analyzing instructions and then teaching them to a group. (I think this has something to do with her teaching third grade for eight years. 🙂 ) But after looking over the Dice Throne instructions, she proclaimed, “This is a rule book, not an instruction book that describes how to play the game.”

A few hours of mowing the backyard later…

We decided to consult Watch It Played with Rodney Smith:

Which we found more helpful than the official Dice Throne video. But we still wanted to see the game played out. So we watched a bit of a Game the Game episode:

That was all on Sunday. Due to how crazy our week has been, we have yet to play ourselves. But I wanted to ask you…

Have you ever bought a game and thought, this is overwhelming!

Tell me about it in the comments below.