Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Struggle

I just don't even know what to write really. Sure, there have been time constraints and internet dependability problems since we got here to our U.S. home base in Saline, Louisiana. But, mostly my lack of posting is due to a lack of knowing what to write.

And that's still the case...I'm sitting here even now trying to decide what to say exactly.

Not that nothing is going on. Not that I don't have a million jillion feelings and observations to note. But, those things all pale in comparison to the struggle.

I'm not going to even go into the specifics of it all. But, last night I felt a huge urging to go see if Katie had posted something recently. I just read this on her blog. Oh how I can relate. You really must read it. I'm sure at some level we can all relate.

"It's too much." "This isn't working." "I'm not going to do this." These have been my mantras the past few days.

Again, not going to take the time for specifics. But, just know that there is a deep struggle going on. Many questions and no answers. Many 'dynamics' without resolution.

Clarity will come. Peace is on its way.

But the struggle (with so many components) is in full swing. Please pray for us.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Kids' 1st Snow!!

First of all, we had a great time in NYC this past weekend. Thank you to all of our friends and family for their special gifts that made it possible.

If you didn't follow on Facebook, I'll be posting pics and telling all about it at some point on here I'm sure. I'd mentioned to a couple of people that it was the first time me and Joel had been away somewhere completely childless since before Grady was born (six years ago!!). I'd forgotten about when we went to Brazil to check out Asas de Socorro. But, given that that trip was 7am-10pm interviews for the duration of the trip, it definitely doesn't count as a restful romantic getaway. Besides, I was 8 months pregnant, technically it wasn't a 'childless' trip either. ;) was great to get away just the two of us. Such a great city and so much fun. I'll tell you all about it another time.

One other area of 'business' before some pictures...some of you have asked where to send a Christmas card this year. Here you go:

P.O. Box 42
Saline, LA 71070


It snowed in this region last weekend. Well, sounds like it snowed basically all over the country last week sometime...our friends and family in Texas and Louisiana got a good bit themselves. We got some in NYC, but it didn't stick. Here in the Boston area though, there were a few inches hanging around for us when we got back.

We weren't here with the kids when it arrived. Joel's sister said that Grady kept insisting (as the snow was falling) that it was Christmas time, they had to put up the Christmas tree!! ;) Cute.

I was so glad that we were able to still play with them in the snow before it all disappeared.

We started out with some snowball throwing, then a snowman, and lastly, snow angels. Even though it was sunny out, our kids didn't have on double layers on their bottom half, so they were pretty miserable by the end of our time outside (I was completely comfortable with double layers, so it wasn't too terribly cold). And Hadley is a bit like her Mama...she kept saying how cold she was and asking if she could go in (her hands esp. bothered her...and no, she wasn't just mimicking me...I was playing and not complaining about the cold for once).

It was their first snow ever...good times.

Run, Grady!
I love Cass' face in this one.
Poor Eissa being consoled by her mean Daddy. Kidding. Joel had accidentally surprised her with a cold ball in the face...very lightly though. The tears were about hurt feelings, not a hurt face. Poor baby.
My turn!!
Going after Grady.
Watch out, Hadley!

Grady getting me.
So threatening, right?

Now it's time to make a snowman. Following Daddy's lead.

A great Cass face again.

Grady making the head.
Telling me all about it.

Some eyes. Grady really worked hard on the snowman...was totally into it. And came up with great ideas for what he should look like and what he needed.
Eissa was cracking me up...totally refused to turn around for the picture. ;)
The country version. ;) Gotta love John Deere.
Eissa getting ready to make her snow angel. She wasn't impressed I must say. She had already reached her snow limit at this point. ;)

Grady's pretty impressed with Daddy's snow angel. And Eissa is saying she's cold. ;) Oh how God has made this family for the tropical climate! :) P.S. Eissa really did enjoy it, even though my pictures only really captured her non-enjoying times. ;)

Running from the camera.

Hiding behind the snowman.
The snow family (note the more classic hat for the snowman that Mrs. Pam came out and gave to us from Mr. Ken's stash). ;)

So thankful that we got to experience snow with our kiddos after all. We'd prayed for that, hadn't we?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

What Do You Do While You Wait?

(written as if speaking to a male, but obviously applies to both male and female)

Ohhh, rest in the Lord!!

My heart is heavy for you...and expectant and so very excited for what God has for you. I can't wait to see how it all unfolds. I can't wait until you meet her. Can't wait until you see just how amazing one person can be...and just how perfectly God can match you with someone...and just how incredibly smitten with someone you can be.

It's all SO VERY exciting.

Even just to think about...imagine when it is actually happening in real life.

I use the word 'wait' in the title, but I know that you aren't waiting. You are busy. Busy doing the things of God. Busy living life.

You aren't 'waiting' in the sense of pining away...loooonnnnnnggggggiiiiinnnnnggggglllllyyyy trying to be patient for your mate. No...I know you aren't like that. But, you are in the process of waiting since it hasn't yet happened, right? That part of your life has not yet come, that's all. You are fine with that though. You don't suspect it will happen for another few years anyway.

But, what to do during those few years?

Please...I beg you...don't.

Don't do it.

Don't give in.

You've always been so diligent, so focused, so amazing.

Don't slip. Don't compromise. Don't buy into what the world wants to whisper (or scream) in your ear. Don't let them wear you down.

Imagine how she is waiting for you. No, she's not pining away either (she's busy about her Father's business too), but she is reserving herself...all of her...for you. Her eyes are SET on Jesus...until Jesus nods your way and helps her to see you.

She is reserving her thoughts and her playful flirting for you alone. She is reserving her late-night talks of deep intimate things for just you. She is reserving all her compliments and head-over-heels-ness just for you. It's only for you.



Keep yourself too. The world would say that it's no big deal to play. Even the church says that.


Of the things that would come and try to steal away from you the overwhelmingly incredible joy that can be yours in guarding all that you are for just one.

She is doing it for you.

I know it's exciting to think about...exciting to talk about...exciting to date or think of the prospect of dating. But, not nearly as exciting as waiting...not nearly as exciting as your first date ever...your first date with your future spouse.

You believe God for all things supernatural...believe Him for this too. Don't only believe Him for it, but know that this is the best way. Two people, waiting on God's perfect timing, hearts completely intact and preserved...just the way God adores for it to happen. What joy and blessing...complete contentment and sheer satisfaction like you've never known. Ahhh.

Please don't become contaminated by the world's/the worldly Christian's way of doing things. Don't fall victim to the mindset that says it's no big deal. Save all of you for her. You are her present that only she should be able to unwrap. Don't re-gift. Re-wrapping is not possible.

Guard your heart. Guard your mind. Guard your speech. Guard your actions.

She is SO worth it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Culture Shock

Lots of people talk about how when they re-enter their country of origin after a period of time away, they experience culture shock all over again. It's true.

Let me tell you my experience in the past couple of days...



Chic-Fil-A...twice in one day! ;)


The thickest toilet paper you've ever felt. (i'm trying to remember to put it in the toilet instead of the trash)

Paper plates that don't crumple when you put something on them.

Such diversity in the way people look and dress. (i'm trying not to stare)

Napkins that actually absorb and wipe instead of just smear the food over your face (big ole smile on my face right now about my beloved Brazilian wax napkins).


Hot water at the sink.

A dryer.

A comfortable mattress.

Warm, cozy houses.

A bathtub!!!!!!!!!

Christmas music everywhere you go.



The hussle and bussle of Christmas time (that doesn't happen in Brazil).

Options, options, options...for anything and everything you could possibly ever want.

And of course...FAMILY!!

We had a day full of family and fun and the best foods ever yesterday at a gorgeous cozy house decked out in holiday cheer that sits right on the ocean.

Not that I don't miss my Brazilian family and friends...and some of the things of Brazil (I love you all there!)...

But, let me just tell you...

This is the best kind of culture shock there is!!!! I am LOVING (!!!!!!!!!!!!!) this culture shock. And, I have almost 8 months more of it to glory in! And glory I will.

O.K., here I to glory!! (in Black Friday to be specific)

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


A while back, some little friends of ours were talking to Grady and Hadley about a sleepover. The kids were actually coming up with lots of ideas, not just the sleepover. ;) After that, the adults really did make some plans...going out for pizza together. Grady then started calling it our 'pizzaover.'

So, yeah...Thanksgiving has somehow become 'Thanksover.' :) So cute. And hey...whatever.

But, we will be there in the land of pilgrims and turkeys this year.

Yep, tomorrow morning we leave our house. For 8 months.

Right now, I'm not liking the idea. Makes me sad. I didn't get to say goodbye to some of my neighbors and friends. And it's just hard to put your life on hold in one area to go live it up in the next area. Such a weird life.

Not that I don't want to go to the United States. But, I am definitely up for going more often for a shorter amount of time. I'm all for 4 months every year and a half. Can I get an 'Amen!'? Seriously, we may have to work something out.

So, even though it's hard to make the break from this life, I am so excited to experience some America again in about a day and a half (we arrive around noon on Tuesday). I mean, once I get my mouth on some bagels or doughnuts or Starbuck's or Mexican food...once I see family and friends and hear English non-stop...once I see orderly parking lots and huge one-stop-shopping stores (Target...hold on...I'm coming for you), once we're all sitting with Mama at a Saline Bobcats basketball game watching my little brother play (and Daddy coach)...when I'm sitting watching my little brother graduate high school...I'm sure my mixed emotions will ease (hmm, they already have just thinking about those last two). But, transitioning is just...interesting. Hard, fun, exciting...hard. excited about spending the holidays there. And introducing my kids to so many things that they've never even experienced. And us all re-experiencing some things that we haven't had/done in a while.

So...pray for us. Pray that we get everything done and situated tonight...leaving your house for 8 months takes a lot out of you planning-wise. Pray for safe travel. And Grady came out a few minutes ago saying that he was excited to go to the United States, but he was "a lil bit scared." I asked him what about and he said getting lost in the airport. ;) So, pray that nothing gets lost...luggage, backpacks/strollers, and...people. ;) (seriously) Pray for health as we go. Cass has a little cold already, so pray that that doesn't bother her and that she recovers quickly (like right now). ;) Pray for just smooth sailing...with connections, our attitudes (the kids and me...we know Joel is perfect), for wisdom in every situation that arises, etc.

We have a morning flight out to Sao Paulo in the morning around 10. But then...ugh...we have a 12 hour (!!) layover in Sao Paulo. Yes, that's right. 12 hours. With 4 small children. Who wants to do that even if you're single and have tons of books and magazines and movies onhand?! :) So, we are possibly going to meet up with some friends of Joel's. Or go get a hotel room for the afternoon...our flight out of Sao Paulo leaves at around midnight. There's great potential for a fun little few hours there...just pray that it happens, because there is also great potential for the opposite in a situation like that. ;)

We head to Miami after that, then on to Boston to be with Joel's family for a few weeks. I'll keep you posted and let you know how our trip up was.

Until then, some of you got this in the form of an email. But, for those of you who didn't, I just wanted to share it with you too. Enjoy. (be sure to turn your volume on)

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Give Thanks
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Monday, November 16, 2009


I've referenced her before on this blog. She is, in one word, breathtaking. She does happen to be beautiful physically, but that's not what I'm talking about. It is just incredibly breathtaking all that she is doing for others, the sacrifices she has made in order to follow God's plan for her life, the example of running after God and His Will for your life that she is for us. Breathtaking.

Here in November, National Adoption Month, I wanted to share with you her story. God called her very specifically and clearly. The thing is though, He does that with all of us. She just happened to be listening. And willing to obey at all costs.

Here is Katie's story, in her own words (pictures added my me):

It is my 16th Birthday and I am eating sushi at my favorite restaurant with my parents when I tell them that I would like to explore the possibility of taking a year in between high school and college to do mission work. This is unheard of in my family and they say they are not sure and will think about it. I am nervous, but somehow I know it is right. He changes their hearts.

I have just turned 18 and find an orphanage online. I beg my parents to let me visit over break, just three weeks. A month later I am on a plane. I am so excited. I am so scared of being, but I know He is going with me. I fall in love.

I graduate high school having made the commitment to teach Kindergarten for a year at a school in The Middle of Nowhere, Uganda. In August I get on the plane. I’m apprehensive and I cry most of the way because I miss my Mommy and my boyfriend. I am eager, but so uncertain. I trust Him. I teach 138 children how to speak English and to love Jesus.

It is October and I am just not sure I can do it anymore. I live in the smallest room I have ever seen in the back of a pastor’s house. I am more uncomfortable than I had bargained for. No one understands, not people here, not people at home. I am tired. But I am prideful and I am not going to quit. I don’t like this. But I know He has a plan. I learn, I grow, He is there.

It is December and God has spoken very clearly about opening a ministry that sponsors 40 of the orphaned children in the village where I am working. This involves moving into a different house, ALONE. It is big and I cannot imagine how God will fill it up. I am lonely and I am anxious. But I am still trusting. He fills the house, and we now have 400 children sponsored.

It is January and I am looking at a little girl, crushed under a brick wall with no one to care for her or her younger siblings. I offer to take the three home with me until we find them a better placement. I am not really sure what to do with them, but I know they are God’s children. They stay.

It is three days later and the littlest looks at me and calls me mommy. My heart might break in two. Something clicks. I am even more scared than I was the day I stepped on that plane, but I KNOW. Today I have 13.

I have to deliver a baby, give a boy stitches, pull a tooth, give and injection. I am petrified. But no one will do it if I do not. He is present, He holds my hand, they are all fine.

It is August and I must get on a plane back to America to go to college, as I have promised my father. I do not remember how to be a teenager or what it is to be normal Brentwood, Tennessee. I will have to leave my babies. I will have to make new friends. I am sad and I am terrified. He wraps His arms around me. He puts just the right people in just the right places, and they help me and they make me feel at home.

First semester is over and He speaks clearly to me that I cannot serve two masters. “Go HOME,” He says, “and stay.” I am uncertain, but I want to be obedient. He squeezes tighter. I am thankful.

I have to look at my loving parents who have given me everything and tell them that I will not go to college right now, because I feel God wants me to be in Uganda. I know how disappointed and how angry they will be. I am more scared than I was when I got on the plane and more scared than I was when I took my first children. But I know that this IS the Plan. They love me anyway.

It is February and my daughter’s biological father comes to take her away. My heart breaks in half, and I am not sure I will ever be able to get out of my bed again, let alone foster another child. I am more than devastated, but I want what is best for her, what He wants for her. She comes back and her biological father learns about Jesus.

It is March and a lame little girl is brought to my gate. She is undoubtedly mine, but I am still anxious. What if I can’t do it? I don’t know what to do with a special needs child, especially as my 13th child. I am criticized and ridiculed. I wonder. I trust and praise God for her sweet little life. She starts to walk.

I find myself in a village full of starving people that for some reason seem to want to kill me. God says to serve them anyway. I am not sure how it is going to work, or if it is safe. I can’t figure it out, but I know He can. 1,200 Karamajongs, the poorest of Uganda’s poor, are now served hot meals daily.

We keep taking in more children until there are 400 in our program. There is no way we will raise enough funds, but by now I have stopped worrying. He has always provided. Blessings rain from the sky, and all 400 children go to school.

I am 20 years old and have 13 children and 400 more who all depend on me for their care. Who are all learning to love Jesus and be responsible adults and looking up to me. The reality of it all can be a bit overwhelming at times. However, it is always pure joy. There is a common misconception that I am courageous. I will be the first to tell you that this is not actually true. Most of the time, I am not brave. I just believe in a God who will use me even though I am not. Most mornings, before I even get out of bed I am overwhelmed with His goodness, with His plan for my life; I stand in awe of the fact that He could entrust me with so much. Most days, I don’t have much of a plan. I don’t always know where this is going. I can’t see the end of the road, but here is the great part: Courage is not about knowing the path. It is about taking the first step. It is about Peter, getting out of the boat. I do not know my five year plan; even tomorrow will probably not go as I have planned. I am thrilled and I am terrified, in a good way. So some call it courage, some call it foolish, I call it Faith. I choose to get out of the boat. To take the next step. Sometimes I walk straight into His arms. More often, I get scared and look down and stumble. Sometimes I almost completely drown. And through it all, He never lets go of my hand.

The picture at the very top is of Katie and her 13 children.

The faith of a child. Katie has it. She listens to hear instructions from her Father and then she obeys them. Period.

Maybe she doesn't have any real ties to a life back in the states anyway...makes it easier for her. Guess again. She talked about that very thing today on her blog (search for her Nov. 16th post). She very definitely still has real ties and very good 'reasons' for telling God no, that it's too much that He's asking of her, that she just can't do it anymore. But, she doesn't.

Oh, but God has called Katie to something's not the norm.

That is a lie of the enemy that we Americans love to buy into. Why? Because we want to believe what is comfortable. Why does satan love that we believe that lie? Because if we believe that a call like Katie's call is not the norm, we will be so very unlikely to really pay attention when God speaks to us asking us to do something uncomfortable...something, that is in fact, extreme.

What if we all lived like a call like that was the norm. What if we all lived sitting on the edge of our seats for a call like that? What if we lived in such a way that if we didn't get an 'extreme' call like that, we'd think something was wrong? You know, if we all lived like that, then it wouldn't seem like such a sacrifice when we were called to extreme things, now would it? Everybody would be doing it!

Are you seeking an extreme call on your life? Lots of times, if we aren't seeking, then we aren't expectantly and actively listening. And if we aren't expectantly and actively listening, then maybe we just aren't hearing our Father's voice. How can we follow what we do not hear?

Katie is such a 20-year old challenge to us, isn't she? And in her 'extreme' call (which again, let's renew our minds and start thinking of it as a 'normal' call from now on, why don't we), she has been asked to 'extremely' care for orphans.

Your extreme, normal call might primarily center around some other cause. But even so, ask God what your role is in caring for the children that nobody else is caring for. Maybe you aren't called to a remote village to adopt 13 children...but then again, maybe you are. You won't know the answer until you ask.

Ask expectantly and actively. Then listen. Then obey.

Get that extreme call on your life! Then be extreme in living it out!

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Did you know that November is National Adoption Month? It is, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to talk about something that is really a God-breathed passion in my heart.

Did you know that there are over 140 million orphans worldwide? That's alot. Within the United States there are over 500,000 children in foster care. Of those 500,000 children, over 120,000 are able and waiting to be adopted. Sadly, only around 50,000 children, or 18% of those waiting in foster care, are adopted each year. On average, children in foster care wait over 2 years to be adopted. Now, believe me, I think that is way better than the condition of most other orphans in the rest of the world. But, still it is an indictment. Are we, as a church, really caring for the orphans?

What happens to the non-American orphans (although some of this applies to American orphans too...but, I'm sure we can all agree that the American orphans, although they definitely deserve a family too, are much more likely to live in better conditions even without being adopted)? I found these bullet points completely interesting. Please take the time to really read them. Well, as they grow:
*Orphans are 13 percent less likely to attend school than non-orphans.
*Only 10 percent of all the children orphaned because of AIDS have access to critical social services.
*Children — especially infants and young children — who live in orphanages, children’s villages, and other group institutions, generally suffer because they do not receive the emotional and psychological support they need.
*Children living in an orphanage environment experience significant delays in both physical and mental development compared to children living in a family environment.
*Children who lose their parents, especially in the developing world, often face years of economic hardship, lack of love and affection, little education, abuse and risk of HIV infection, malnutrition and illness, stigma, discrimination, and isolation.

When they become adults:
*Orphans have few means of supporting themselves and are often forced to work in commercial agriculture, as street vendors, in domestic service, and in the sex trade.
*70% of homeless mothers who were in the US Foster Care system as a child have at least one of their own children in foster care.
*70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes- 9 times the average (U.S. Dept of Justice, Sept 1988)
*Within two years of leaving a Russion orphanage-~15% of all orphans have committed suicide while another ~60% are involved in criminal activity (gangs, drugs, prostitution).

Each year, an estimated 20,000 young people in the U.S. foster-care system turn 18 and are turned away from further support and services. What happens to them?
54% Earn a high school diploma
2% Obtain a Bachelor's degree or higher
51% Are unemployed
30% Have no health insurance
25% Have been homeless
30% Are receiving public assistance

30 percent of all U.S. homeless adults have spent time in the foster care system.

Did you know that only 1/3 of Americans have ever even considered adopting, but no more than 2 percent of Americans have actually adopted? And of the ones that have considered it, I wonder how many of those only considered it because they weren't able to have children biologically. Another indictment in my mind. Did God say take care of the orphans if you can't have children biologically? That's not what it says, is it?

Adoption is no little thing. Neither is the need for it.

The time involved is big. The expenses involved can be big, depending on what kind of adoption you are planning. But the need...the lives of children who are desperate for a family...that trumps all the 'big' obstacles that our mere human minds can see. Don't let the natural, of this world obstacles deter you. The need to obey God is great...for your sake and for the sake of these children.

There are so many organizations these days that are helping with the obstacles that spring up. This video introduces you to one. The ABBA Fund.

I love this quote: "The Bible repeatedly makes it clear that caring for orphans is not an option for Christians. --Paul Pennington, Executive Director, Hope for Orphans (a ministry of FamilyLife)

Is everyone on the face of the earth supposed to adopt? I believe that many more of us who claim to be followers of Christ, who claim to want to do what He says, needs to explore the option. Don't be too caught up with yourselves. Don't look at your circumstances. Don't look at your age or your children's ages or your house or your income. Look outward. Look at those children. Meet needs. Open yourself up to God, be a willing vessel to do anything for God, including adoption. Just as with anything else in this life, if He calls you to do it, He will provide the way to do it.

God's command is to care for the orphans. What are YOU doing, right now, in a very practical way, to care for the orphans?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Trying SO Hard

Caught Cass in some major determination the other day with her big brother's sock and shoe. So cute.

She had dropped the shoe with all her tussling around with it, so she got down to get it and then returned to her 'ring.'

She was doing some bigtime wrestling with that sock. And then she fell over.
Then she looked up at me and started cracking up. Hilarious. Love that fun-loving little girl that can laugh at herself.