Addison: 3 Months

Addison,

It’s been about a year since you came into my life. A year ago, you were a tiny dot on an ultrasound photo and now here you are sitting in my lap watching me type.

I’m not lying when I say you are the most beautiful creature I have ever encountered. You are, in fact, like a rose. You’re so breathtaking and when I stare at you in the late hours of the night, you seem so delicate. You skin is fair and untainted by the sun’s harsh rays. Your eyes are the most perfect shade of sea blue. I want to notice every detail. I want to inhale in this moment slowly, like this is the last moment I am with you. I wonder if you’ll always sleep with your arms in the air or will always hang onto the hair behind your ears.

I’m looking down on you and you seem to have the daintiest eyelashes. They are long and curled up just slightly. You are the happiest baby alive. I love how you flash your big gummy smile at me when you first wake up. You are so beautiful. Even though most of the time I find you with boogers hanging out of your nose or a shirt that looks like you’ve been sitting in the splash zone at Sea World.

Oh and your hair! It’s so floofy! I swear it just sticks straight up 99.9% of the time. But it’s adorable. It’s so light and soft, like feathers. And I just love how it smells. It just has a faint scent of lavender baby soap and it lingers for days. I catch myself taking a big breath in whenever you’re in my arms.

I pray that as you grow older a little piece of this moment will always be woven into your very being. I pray that you will always be unexplainably happy and that the little things will always light you up. I pray you will always be as easygoing as you are now and now matter how many times you have to hop from one thing to the next, you will forever go with the flow. I hope that we always find time to talk. I hope you are always as chatty as you are this very moment. I truly want to hear every word.

I love you so much Addison Rose and these three months earthside have not been long enough, yet have flown by so quickly.

Don’t grow too fast.

Love,
Your mom

You’re the One That I Want

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2 years ago today I became the happiest woman alive by marrying my best friend, Chris. I think I was so caught up in being married I’m not even sure if I posted my wedding photos on Facebook (fail). So today I dug deep into the depths of the external hard drive to gather my photos from a major turning point in my life.

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I’ll have to admit, there’s a lot of nostalgia looking back at these photos. I smile at all the happy faces and I giggle at the few bumps in the road (for example, I had planned the song I was to walk down the aisle to for like 3+ years before my wedding, moments before I started walking down the aisle, the speakers decided to stop working so I walked down in silence. Regardless, You’re The One That I Want by Angus & Julia is forever my wedding song). That beautiful day exposed me a love that can’t be replaced or replicated. Through Chris, I have experienced a love that is real. I have experienced a love that is unconditional.

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Thank you for loving me when I cry over stupid things like dropping flour all over the kitchen floor. Thank you for loving me when I’m short tempered and raise my voice in frustration. Thank you for loving me when I steal the covers or spread out so far that you’re falling off the edge of the bed. Thank you for loving me when you’ve had to repeat yourself over five times because I keep forgetting what you’ve said.

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 Thank you for listening to the same story three times in the same day and always acting like it’s your first time hearing it. Thank you for changing our addresses on all our bills so I don’t have to worry. Thank you for pulling the weeds that I’m too weak to pull. Thank you for going behind me and doing things I’ve forgotten about (like switching the wet laundry to the dryer).

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I do my best to thank you for all that you’ve done and I know that I don’t always show how much I love and appreciate you. I love you so much Chris Soroka. I’m beyond thankful that God has blessed me with you. You are more than I could have asked for and better than I dreamed. The longer I’m with you, the more I love you. I’m excited for year 3 of marriage and am so excited to see you become a father. Hearing you talk about strollers and swing sets makes me smile for hours. You are an amazing husband to me and I know you’ll be an outstanding father to our daughter.

Happy anniversary,Chris. You will always be the one that I want.

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First Letters to Addison

LetterDadTo my daughter

I’ll just start off by letting you know that i’m not as good a writer as your mom is, so don’t look at all my spelling and grammar errors!

I haven’t met you in person yet, but I have seen your tiny body at the doctors. I’ve heard your heartbeat and seen your little feet kick your mom’s stomach. It was one of the weirdest, yet special moments in my life. Hearing your heartbeat and watching it move on the screen for the first time was crazy for me. I didn’t know what to say or do. It was hard to think that your mom and I made that happen. I can’t wait until we meet in person. I cant wait to hold you and feel your little fingers and toes. I cant wait to kiss your forehead, and hold you in my arms, and take so many pictures with you, that all our friends and family are sick of me posting them.

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I’ll be honest, when I found out you were a girl I got nervous. Im a guy, so I know how they think from a young age all throughout middle and high school. I have no idea how to handle a little girl.

But I cant wait to figure it out.

I can’t wait to share my interests with you, and take an interest in yours. I can’t wait to play video games, watch movies, make funny videos, play dress up, and even play with your hair..or have you play with mine. If you want, I will even paint your nails for you. As long as we can spend time together doing things you like.

Ill be the one teaching you to drive. Your mom doesn’t have the best history with cars. You may think im annoying in the car with you, but trust me..I am nothing compared to your mom 😉

When you get old enough to take an interest in boys and start dating, you will probably hate me. I will be interviewing every single boy you look at. And if I need the extra help, your mom will…be sitting on the couch watching your three uncles ask additional questions. Uncle Stephen, Adrien, and Anthony will be just as protective as I am when it comes to boys in your future.

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I hope you think i’m an o.k dad. I’m going to try as hard as I can, but I know i’m going to make mistakes, and Im sure im going to be wrong sometimes. But I just want the best for you.

I hope you keep God first in your life. He has walked with me since I was in middle school, although I have stumbled and fallen at times, I have tried my best to keep Him my priority. He is a better father to you than I i’ll ever be.

Well, I am done with this horribly written letter now. Your mom is waiting outside for me so we can walk Riley and Bentley.

I love you my little rose. I’ll see you soon.

Love,
Your incredibly awesome dad

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Dear Addison,

As I’m writing this, you are kicking me in the belly button. This week we found out that we were having you. I mean, we knew we were having a baby but it was just a matter of were we having Grayson or Addison. Up until this point, we’ve been wondering if God was going to give us a little girl or a little boy and it’s been driving us crazy.

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February 17 was a truly amazing day for me and your dad. For the first time ever, I saw your face. Last time I saw you, you looked like a bean. You didn’t have a face, arms, or legs. All I could see was was basically a white blob on a black canvas. Don’t be offended but you looked a little funny when we saw you. You look like a skeleton because you only weigh about 10 ounces. There’s not much meat on your bones yet. But despite all that, you were truly beautiful. I saw your little feet and hands move. You yawned and it was adorable! You didn’t like the ultrasound technician very much. You wanted to stay rolled up in a little ball (which is how I sleep) and whenever the technician would press or shake my belly, you pushed back on her and tried to hide yourself. I can already tell that you’re stubborn just like Chris and I (I figured that would get passed down to you. Your daddy is particularly stubborn so there was no getting away from that).

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I can’t even describe how it felt when the technician pointed at your little bottom and showed us that you were a girl. I almost cried (I tried to keep it together because your dad always teases me about crying. I am pretty emotional lately). It was unreal and magical watching you move. I could finally, after months of waiting and wondering, put a name to a face. And hearing your heart beat…. No matter how many times I hear it, it’s always unreal.

You daddy and I weren’t the only people wondering about you. Friends and family texted us and wrote us on Facebook all morning asking about you. We posted a few days before your appointment a video of Riley & your daddy. Daddy held up two onesies, a pink and a blue one, and he asked Riley which one she wanted and she chose the pink one THREE times! When that went on facebook, everyone commented on if she was right. Even I wondered. Dogs are very intuitive, but could she really guess if a baby was a boy or girl? But let me tell you, Facebook went wild when we announced that you were going to be joining us in July. Everyone commented on how unbelievable it was that Riley was right. I told Chris that for out next baby, we should ask her again and see if she’ll be two for two.

Telling the family was the best part. Grandma cried and Grandpa told us that Grandma’s budget went up 50% because you’re a girl. Gigi screamed over the phone. And Auntie Faith snapchated me all day because she was so excited. Our phones were flooded with messages and comments all about how excited people are to meet you. Everyone is so thrilled and can’t wait to spoil you rotten.

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Especially me. I can’t wait to hold you, Addison. I’m so in love with you though I’ve never met you. I want to kiss you and see you laugh. I want to see what you personality is like. I know you’ll be your own unique person, but I wonder which traits you carry from daddy & I. I hope you have his energy and sense of humor and how he can make light of any situation. I hope that he’ll teach you how to change a tire and oil, and fix things around the house so that when you’re grown, you’ll be able to fend for yourself. I hope you’re organized like me so that you’ll stay organized for school and work and don’t fall behind. I hope your stress tolerance is high like mine and even when your life is crazy, you can still remain calm.

Most of all, if you only take one thing from us, I pray that you will wait for God’s special person. I pray that you won’t waste your time on people who will make you feel good for a season, and in the end, are not who God wants you to spend the rest of your life with. Wait for the best because life is so much sweeter that way. You don’t want anything but God’s best because you will end up hurt and full of regret.

I love you Addison Rose. Keep growing and stay strong.

Love,
Mommy

Thriving & Revelations

This post is going to be a doozy and probably will get you up close and personal with me. So just warning you, skip it if you’re not in it for the very long run.

When the New Year arrives, it’s like a breath of fresh air. Everyone is busy making resolutions, goals, and thinking of how they’re going to be the new-and-improved version of themselves. I use to make resolutions, but I usually fail and don’t follow through. So this year, rather than make resolutions, I wanted to choose a word for the year, particularly one that I could reflect on and strive for.

I didn’t think much of which word I wanted, but as I reflected on 2014 and dreamed of 2015, the word that kept creeping into my vocabulary was thrive. I want so badly to thrive in every area of my life in 2015. When the new year started, I believed that I had all the tools I needed to thrive. I didn’t feel as if anything was holding me back from doing so. But on January 4th, I learned how very wrong I was.

Since high school, Chris’ and I’s lives have revolved around kid’s church. We were completely obsessed and it occupied every thought and most of our conversations. I was especially wrapped up into it. Every waking thought was about kids church. It distracted me from work, my dogs, my husband, and even God. I’ve heard many times that if the devil can’t pull you away, he will make you so busy that God will eventually be pushed into the back of the cupboard. That phrase always went through one ear and out the other. I dismissed it completely the second it entered my mind.

In August 2014, I had started a back to school series on Nehemiah/football. I was so stoked that I was going to teach the message. I had put countless hours into the planning, wording, and double checked every Bible phrase and reference making sure that I wasn’t twisting God’s word but was properly represented. I don’t remember if it was the same Sunday I taught or the week after, but we got a text from the children’s pastor saying he wanted us to come to his office and speak with us. We knew immediately that whatever he wanted to see us about was not going to be a good.

And we were right. We didn’t have a “oh, great job on your lesson” or “thanks for all you do” talk. It was a conversation I never dreamed I would have and one that was incredibly painful to sit through. We were told that multiple parents had approached him and were unhappy with us and our social media posts. People didn’t like that we drank (even though we never drank to get drunk). People didn’t like that we had tattoos and piercings (even though we respected our parents and waited until we moved out). Because of all this, he asked us to take a break until November 2014.

I was crushed. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I just wanted to run away. I felt like my entire world was collapsing. Every moment that I sat in that office, I felt like my body was on fire.

I understand why parents don’t agree. Not everyone agrees with drinking. Not everyone agrees with tattoos and piercing. These are always going to be subjects of debate in the church. And really, what I believe is that the Bible isn’t 100% clear on those topics. It does say that we shouldn’t get drunk, which we don’t do or promote. We just like the taste. And as for tattoos and piercings, there’s only one place in the Old Testament that really refers to it, however, he telling the people to abstain because the people surrounding them were associated with witchcraft and God didn’t want his people being mixed into that category. But that’s not what it’s like today. Today tattoos and piercings are common and every time you turn around, some one has been to the tattoo parlor for one reason or another.

Regardless, people weren’t pleased and they had made it known. When I walked out of that office, I had made up my mind that I wasn’t going back. A break “until November” meant a break forever. If no one wanted me there, I wasn’t going burden or annoy them with my presence. I cried all the way home and cried every night for about a week straight.

The days after, my mind wandered aimlessly from one topic to the next. I felt like my purpose was gone and that I was now worthless. We went to the regular service a few times but each time I grew more and more distant. We’d walk by the kids church each week to say hi to the children’s pastor but each time I felt like it was a forbidden room. I felt like I was disrespecting parents just by standing by the door.

A place that I had been going to and called home since I was 14 now felt foreign and made me feel completely uncomfortable. We eventually stopped going all together. I became very cynical about the church. I told Chris a million times that this was exactly the reason why people don’t come to church. My hurt morphed into hatred and I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to return to a normal service. Now, I by no means, had any intention to turn my back on my faith. I wasn’t angry at Him and was specifically angry at the church. I have been harboring this anger for about 5 and a half months.

There was only one part of the church that Chris & I continued to go to and it was the young adult group which was held in a little house near the church. It was the only place were I felt like I hadn’t been rejected and where I knew that even if people didn’t like my facial piercing or Chris’ tattoos, it was a place we were still loved and accepted.

Every year the young adult group kicks off the year with a new years’ service (last year, as the young adult pastor always reminds us, no one showed). We said we were going but I dreaded it the entire day. I knew that the service was going to be held inside the church and I wasn’t sure how I was going to bring myself to go inside. We pulled up to the church and I became very tense. As I approached the room that the service was being held in, the same room that I felt like I had been shut out of 6 months ago, I became more and more of a nervous wreck.

However, I experienced something I wasn’t expecting. As I walked into the room, I was overwhelmed with smiles and a sense of complete peace. But what completely overtook my body was God’s presence. Worship started and I was completely washed over by God’s love. It was like a warm fog. I could feel all around me and all at once. He melted away my hatred of the church. He restored my love for a place I had grown to loathe. If you could have seen the inside of my soul, you would have seen me sitting in a puddle of my emotions.

When I was worshiping, God brought to mind my word for the year: thrive. He showed me an image of a dog tied to the ground. It whined helplessly and then soon became hostile. It died a slow and painful death. It was starved and parched and then completely beaten down by nature’s harsh elements. This wasn’t a picture of an animal thriving and sadly, it was a picture of me. I realized that I was being tied down by my hatred, anger, and hurt. God revealed to me that if I was going to continue to harbor the feelings that were tying me to the ground, 2015 wouldn’t be my year to thrive. It would be the year of my demise.

After the service we ran into families we hadn’t seen in months. After we spoke with family after family, I realized that while I was shouting out all the things about the church that were wrong, I had failed to see that I was in the wrong too. These families were families we loved and had bonded with, ones that had always extended love and grace our way. By pushing the church completely out of my life, I had pushed them out too. I had done them wrong.

I recently started a new book called Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. It’s basically a collection of essays and I only read one or two each night before I go to bed. That same night, I found a comfortable spot in my bed squeezed and snuggled between my two dogs and my husband and I pulled up my iPad to where I had left off. The essay I read was called “Spark.” This essay was about the author and how she grew up in church, left, and then found her way back home. I felt as if the essay had been written about me.

She spoke of how she wondered if there was room in the Christian world for a person like herself. She drank and had tattoos; essentially, she was a rebel by the church’s terms. She saw all the things about Christianity that offended her and how she couldn’t connect. But there was one part at the very end that brought me to tears. It put into words all of my emotions that I had experienced only hours before.

“I’m immeasurably thankful to have been born into a community of faith. And I’m even more thankful that my community of faith allowed me the space and freedom to travel my own distances around and through the questions I needed to answer. I’m thankful for the patience and grace I was given, for the forgiveness that I was extended and the guidance I needed.”

So I’m sorry. I’m sorry to the people I pushed away because of a struggle that was happening in my heart. I’m sorry to the families I cut off and the ones I ignored. And I am so so incredibly sorry, God. I’m sorry for shunning the church, Your bride. I’m sorry I didn’t bring it to You 6 months ago when it all began to unravel. I’m sorry I acted in my own power and took matters into my own hands.

I’m immeasurably thankful to the God who restores and loves us without skipping a beat. I’m thankful for a God who lets you go your own way but will always continue to call you back to Him.

So for those I’ve offended or those who are walking down the same path, this post is for you.

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