Hi, my name is Hollie Gray and the thought of a blog terrifies me.
But here we are so let’s get started.
I never felt as though I had a lot to share, or that what I experienced should or needed to be shared, but as time goes on I’ve realized that by not sharing our lives I’m potentially keeping someone from reading something they might need to read at a certain point in their lives. So in reality, this isn’t about me but about reaching people. Isn’t that what we are called to do? Reach people? And not in a, I don’t really have time for you and I’m just doing this because I’m “supposed to” way; but in a real, genuine, I want to know YOU way.
I’ve had a lot of thoughts for a while. We (my husband Matt and I…we will get to that blessed man soon) have been through a lot of life in the past almost 10 years since we first danced together on the Eskimo Joe’s dance floor (oh college); and maybe, some life event or random word of wisdom is supposed to be shared. And maybe, by sharing the parts of our lives I’ve been holding most tightly to my heart, I’ll say something or reach somebody who I wouldn’t have otherwise.
So, here we go but I’m not really sure where to start. How do you start a blog? Do you assume most people know about you or do you start with your name and your history (I guess technically I did already start with my name so we can check that off of the list).
When the idea of writing came to me I brushed it off and said “when we get a nicer computer” (because Lord knows this dinosaur of a computer will try me to my wits end). We don’t have a nicer computer but here I am. Then I said “when I have time”…I mean…so never. I don’t really have time but I’m making time so here I am.
I like to think I’ve had a pretty good life so far (I am approaching the ripe age of 32 so I feel like that speaks a lot). I had 2 loving parents growing up (who are still around); I’m the oldest of 4 children (I do love my siblings fiercely even if I am 10 & 12 years older than the youngest 2); I graduated from a great high school (home of the Redskins…and yes, I am still proud of that); I attended the college I chose and pledged the best sorority I could have dreamed of; I met my super-hot husband in college right before we graduated and started “real life”; we had a dream wedding after dating for 5 years; we bought/built our first home; we had the privilege of being foster parents to 2 darling children who we helped bridge home; and we have had the gracious responsibility, privilege, blessing to take on 2 more foster children who became our Gray babies. That’s a lot but I just covered almost 10 years so I like to think that’s impressive.
But when I really start to think about the details of my life that formed who I am today there are certain ones that stick out to me:
I had great friends growing up (friends that were family) but the end of high school became tricky for me because of bullying and while I graduated from high school, my senior year was not my best. In fact, I like to only remember graduation and a few other activities I did that year. It sucked. When I read of kids committing suicide nearly every day because of bullying, I can picture what they went through, because I experienced it myself. My thoughts drifted to switching schools or moving states but I still get it. Kids are mean and ruthless and have zero inclination to what their words really do to a person. That is sad and I thank God every day that social media was not around when I was in high school (praise the Lord for the requirement of a college email before signing up back when Facebook first came around).
Those moments of bullying pushed me to be a tougher, more direct, stand up for myself type of person in college. I was maybe too honest or direct at times. But the Lord sent me some pretty fantastic friends who became my lifelong friends and stood next to me at my wedding. They knew that eventually that harsh exterior I’d created because of my circumstances would eventually dissipate and I could be a little more kind. (I like to think I was always a good friend just maybe the type of friend you wouldn’t ask for advice if you didn’t want the total, 100%, unfiltered version). I could write an entire book on the friends I have. They are the best and I am just completely beyond gratitude when it comes to the people in my life.
Those friendships in college led me to my husband. We had mutual friends and when I met him I knew I would marry him. It wasn’t a “love at first sight” thing, it was straight to “I’m going to marry that guy” thing. We dated through long distance, grad school, various moves (I had 15 different addresses from the time I graduated high school until 10 years later when we bought our first home), new jobs and the ages of 22-27. Those are some pretty significant years. The mid 20s. The years you are trying to figure out your career, your calling, your “what am I supposed to do now that I’m not in college” time. But we grew and, more importantly, we grew together. We got engaged at Busch Stadium with 2 of our very best friends with us. We got married in Oklahoma City on a pretty small wedding budget but it was the most fabulous day and will always be my number one favorite day of my life (I’ve had some pretty good days; but our marriage has set the foundation for all of those good days that have followed so it will always be my favorite). We were also surrounded by the best friends and family. I can still relive that day in my mind.
Our marriage set the foundation for us. For our family. Without my loving husband I wouldn’t have my precious children. We said yes to foster care together and we jumped in head first. It was terrifying and exciting and overwhelming (and lots of other emotions but I think listing 3 is plenty). We had been married for over a year when we began the process to become foster parents and we were given our first children one month before our two year wedding anniversary. “We have a brother and sister in custody, will you take them?” Yes. Less than 36 hours later 2 precious souls were brought to our home. We became mommy and daddy and stayed that way for 9 months. Then they went home. Our first kids were gone.
Those first kids going home at that exact time led to a question about 2 more children 2 days later. Two days. “Are you interested in taking a set of twins?”. Nope. We hadn’t grieved yet. We just “lost” our kids. We just moved all of their stuff home and we needed time. But we knew God wanted us to say yes, so we did. 38 weeks from the day we met the twins, we adopted them. My babies were born at the hospital at 38 weeks. Timing is not a coincidence (but that is a blog for another day; the 2nd best day of my life so far).
So there it is. My first blog. Life in the gray. It’s a lot; but it sums up most of my life to this point and I feel that people should know all of that to understand the blogs that will follow.
If you made it this far thanks for reading. I plan to do more in depth blogs about fostering, adopting, marriage and just other things that come along in life. Basically my “whys” in life. And my hope is that somewhere along the way it helps somebody.
Because things are not always black and white.
XOXO – Hollie