Last night my two-year-old, Alyssa, drew a picture of a house, and it made me think about how different this house—our house—would be without this girl. Without her giggles, without Barney the dinosaur, without playing jumping frog, without trips to the zoo.

Zoo trips are one of my favorite outings because of the joy in her expression: wide eyes, circled lips, a huge smile. There have been more smiles with our new little one. Our family smiled before, but we can’t help but smile now. We can’t help but repeat the cute things she says. We can’t help but take photos. Lots of photos.

Our living room walls would be barer without her captured image. Special memories in matted frames. The memories of our family before we adopted little Alyssa seem like a different time. Who I was then seems like a different person. With three older kids, I took long baths as I read novels. (I rather enjoy blowing bubbles in my backyard even better.) I remember spending hours in a quiet house with my Bible and journal. (Now, I enjoy reading Bible stories in different voices.)

There aren’t very many quiet moments any longer, unless the little one is at the babysitter’s house for the day so I can work on books. My writing gets done at record speed, mostly so I can spend more time with her. My writing is ministry, and it does have merit, but my little girl brings me oh so much joy.

Other things matter less compared to caring for our daughter. Adoption brought her into our life, and she’s forever a part of our hearts.

I’m encouraged to be a better mom with every addition to our family. And one of my favorite things is hearing a small voice in the morning, “Mommy, where are you? I waked up now!”

Waking up is what a toddler does to you. Waking up to what matters. Waking up to God’s beautiful world.

Waking up is what adoption does, too. Waking up to the realization that our walls have room for more photos and our hearts have room for more love. We have woken up to the wonder of how God crafts families—one set of hearts growing bigger and loving more with every new addition.