Saturday, November 26, 2011

Michawn - age 37 1/2

:) Just following along with the trend of blog post titles. ;) But, yes...getting on up there in the numbers. So much so that as of May, I will have been graduated from high school for 20 years. HUGE GASP!!!! :) Anyway...

Michawn...hmmm, let's see...what to write...

On the homefront, things are going well. I struggle to stay organized and on top of things, but hopefully that is getting better (I'd say it is). I love love love being Mama and homeschooling my kiddos. So so very thankful for that opportunity and I guard it with my life. ;) I'm very protective of my time at home with my kids. Some people may think too much so, but I have to disagree. I see the fruit of that, so to me, there's no mistaking that I'm doing the right thing. Grateful for the option to do that (although I do believe more people really do have that option if they really want it...if they just make the choice to alter their lifestyle a bit). Anyway, loving my housewife/stay-at-home mom/homeschool teacher status. Fo sho! ;) (pictures: me and the kids at a nearby festival type thing; Hadley had a God party in the tent...asked me to put on my fanciest jewelry and we had devotionals and sang to God)

As far as 'community involvement,' the doors have really opened up lately for several things. In fact, the doors are opening up too rapidly for my liking, but that's usually when God is just sweetly nudging you through in His timing, not yours. So.....I go through. Somewhat reluctantly, but I go.

Back during our furlough in 2010, if you remember, I took a childbirth educator course. I then took another course online this past spring. Starting in August, I began to teach this class weekly. I just recently finished up. It was really great and I was so glad for the opportunity to do it in English, it being my first experience and all. During this time, I found out about a group that meets in Goiania (a city about an hour away) that a friend of mine leads...a friend I had ties with in Campinas (the city we lived in when I went to language school last year). I had been a part of the same kind of group there in Campinas...hearing about the group in Goiania was very exciting. I went with my childbirth students one night to check out the group in Goiania...such a great and needed group here (just to remind you, the C-section rate here is around 90%). I've been back since and I really love it.

Long story short, the leader there in Goiania is in touch with a naturopath (kind of doctor) here in our city of Anapolis who is interested in starting a group like that here...just a healthy pregnancy/healthy childbirth/healthy postpartum informational group. The leader in Goiania put the naturopath in touch with me. I met with her a couple of weeks ago. Two of my other friends had expressed interest in helping out with something like this that same week and offered exactly what this doctor didn't have in place yet. Basically, it all fell right into place like an easy toddler puzzle.

So, see what I mean about the doors that just keep flying open? Right now we are just working out the details of all of this coming about. I will keep you posted, but I'm just glad to be a part of hopefully turning women's pregnancy/birth/postpartum experience into something more positive here in Brazil...for them and their families. And of course, what a great ministry opportunity this is...just like everything we do should be.

Also, about a week and a half ago, I got the wonderful experience of being doula for my childbirth students. So so great to be there helping a woman experience the birth of her dreams. The labor was a perfect 7 hour uncomplicated labor (the couple was amazing and really got the Bradley Method down), the baby is perfect, and the couple is such a testimony to others here of what God can do through childbirth when we let Him (you can read the birth story here and get a real sense of the impact it can have here in this culture). In fact, another couple who is expecting their second baby got in touch with me that very night after the baby was born asking me to teach them. So, last week I began another childbirth class for this couple. This time in Portuguese. Ahh! ;) The first class went well and I'm excited to see how it all unfolds for them. (pictures: baby Elijah only a couple of hours old, before bath and all...I got to snuggle him while his Dad helped his Mom get a shower; me, Elijah, and the happy deed was done and I was about to head out, leaving the ecstatic brand new family of 3 to themselves)

Then, of course, there is the adoption that is close at hand (we think)...definitely closer than it ever has been before anyway. ;) Many things to think about as far as that goes. Praying for the perfect timing and the perfect match of children for our family. God has it all planned out and we're excited to be let in on His plans for us.

And then there's just me. Personal me. I entered into another time of concentrated God time a couple of weeks ago like I did during Lent. It's been really good. Same kind of sugar, no grains, no Facebook during the day during the week (although I've allowed it for special circumstances like watching out for the birth of a baby, my nephew, or when someone is about to buy tickets to come see us and needs to ask me questions at any time on a given day...on these days I just log on but don't check the news feed...just am there to receive chats, etc.), daily special time with God, and more discipline in general in all areas (exercise, etc.). Like I said, it's been really good. This is really the way I want to live my life in general...and I did for months after Lent in the spring. But, then the trip to the states at the end of June kind of sent me into a 'relapse.' ;) Never got back on track completely until now. This is just what it takes for me, so that's what I'll do. I'll keep you posted and will probably have more to say about all of that in the near future.

And, uterus. Hahaha. Don't worry, guys, nothing detailed here. But, I did want to update you all on our 'family planning' aside from the adoption. If you remember, I had the miscarriage back in April. We still want more children biologically. But, I kid you not when I say that it has been virtually impossible...naturally speaking anyway. Which is probably just God's divine answer for us at this point...'not right now.' But, since the time of the miscarriage, Joel and I have been in the same city/country only twice at the appropriate time of the month for a baby to occur. And one of those 'twice' was right after I had the miscarriage, when really your body is usually still whacked out anyway. So, again...just God's answer made very clear to us that it's not His timing.

And, now with a trip planned to the United States over the summer (not sure of exact dates just yet...the little brothers are getting married if you haven't heard), it might be a while, if ever (although I really hope it's just a while and not never). But, I will definitely keep you posted. (pictures: a couple taken on Easter, and then me riding bikes with my crew and Tucker, my little brother)

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before, but I am also a part of a weekly Bible study of English speakers...have been for the past 3 years or so. We meet every week here at our house. It's a great group and we have done some amazing studies so far...several Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, etc. Right now we are going through the book Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. An incredible and hugely interesting book about understanding the Jewishness of Jesus and how that changes pretty much everything about Christianity and Scripture. Incredibly interesting, so check it out. (picture: a couple of the chicas that come to my house for the Bible study weekly...there are about 5-6 more that I don't have a picture with)

Anyway, it is a very interesting group...we're all very different. Ha. You who live in the states just naturally kind of gravitate toward very like-minded people...people who generally see things very much the same way you do, their families are very similar to yours, the way they live their lives, etc. When you live outside the states, that isn't always an option. There may not be anyone anywhere near you who does things the way you do, American or native. :) It sometimes makes for very interesting conversations. But, we all love the Lord. And you just have to master the art of focusing on the majors and not the minors...working with the things you do have in common and not letting the things you don't have in common take over. I love the ladies that I get to hang out with weekly here. It's a real blessing.

Hmmm, and I guess that's lil ole me in a nutshell. ;) Hope you didn't fall asleep. Haha. Next time, you guessed it, I'll talk about the big cheese, master and head. :) Joel Stanley Ebersole. So stay tuned. (picture: me and the Man himself on our 10th wedding anniversay, wow, back in February)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

And We Add...

We've been on 'THE LIST' now for about a year and a half. The list of people who are waiting to adopt a child. Can you believe it's been a year and a half? Gosh, time and its'll always boggle our human minds, won't it?

We hadn't heard anything. I was beginning to wonder it they'd forgotten about us, if our names somehow mysteriously vanished off the list or something.

So...well, I decided to make sure everything was O.K. I called last week.

-"Hi, I just wanted to make sure everything is in order...that we are still on the list and have done all that we need to do, etc. It's been a while."
-"Well, when it's God's timing, it will happen. It's all in His hands."
-"Totally. But I wanted to make sure all of the logistics were indeed in place so that He can do His work. Like I said, it's been a while."
-"How long has it been?"
-"A year and a half."
-"Ohh. Well, let me make sure." :)
-"That'd be great. Thanks."

She checked and we were there. In fact, I said our names and she was like, "Oh, yeah, you are there. I don't even have to check. I remember you."

So...Thursday we got a call. They called Joel and then he called me. I was so so excited when he said the 'juizado' had called. But, I tried to contain myself, even though immediately my heart got all fluttery and my breathing speeded up a bit. ;)

It was a sibling group that included a few characteristics that we quickly knew would not fit with our family and what we can take in right now. But, it was great to finally be called. We are there...where we've dreamed of being for a long time. We are number one on the list for the things that we put on our profile (sibling groups accepted, doesn't matter the race or gender, under 4 years old).

Number 1!!

The next to be called.



Of course, unfortunately with the way the system works in Brazil, children are very, very slow to be placed. There is an abundance of people who want to adopt (which is wonderful) and an abundance of children, but it takes forever for a child to be released to be adopt-able (which is so so so sad). So, it could be a while until we are called just never know.

But, there are a few things that we will need in order for us to be functional with more children.

A vehicle. The car we have now seats 7. We have 6 in our family now. So, we have room for one more. Since we said that we'd be glad to take sibling groups, it is highly likely that we will be getting a sibling group. You see what that means in terms of our mode of transportation. So, please be in prayer for us for God to provide the finances and the perfect vehicle for us.

A house. Or, the means to make our current house work. We rent. The place where we live is PERFECT for us. But, the house itself, although we LOVE it, is closing in on us already, even with just our 4 children. We have 3 bedrooms (small) and 2 bathrooms. It has worked for us just fine the past couple of years, the kids being all in one room and having a guest room at first. Then Grady having a room, the girls being in the other, and Grady just moving to the girls' room (which is already crowded) when we have visitors. But, as they get older (and bigger), that is working less and less. We really do need a guest's changed from a want that would be great to have one day, to a need that is current. And if we add to our family with more boys and more girls, bigger rooms would be very nice (so they can walk between their beds and pull both trundle beds out). To give up our location would not be ideal, but at the same time, our house isn't really meeting our needs even now...imagine when we add more to the mix. So, please be in prayer with us for wisdom in our housing situation...that something would clearly open up for us somewhere else and for finances for that, or that we could be given
practical wisdom as to how to function using this house that we have now.

Thank you so much, friends. We know that God will work out the details. Thank you for lifting us up and praying with us for that to happen and for those things to be made completely clear to us.

These are just the physical logistics of adding on to our family. Please pray also for all the rest of course...for smooth transitions for the children coming our way and for our biological children...and us, the parents. So much wisdom needed. Pray that we would be diligent in it all. Thank you. Very exciting. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cass - Thumb Update and Pictures Continued

I mentioned in the last post about something that had happened that very day that made me think the end of the thumb-sucking days for Cass was near. So, let me tell you about it...

For the past few months we've just mentioned little things here and there to her about what sucking her thumb can do. Little things about her teeth, her mouth, etc.

The other day she was in the kitchen with me as I made breakfast. Remember that Cass is our fashion designer/personal stylist. She loves to look cute. That's important to her. Just like horses are important to Eissa and being a servant of God is important to Hadley and being heard/spending time discussing people in the Bible is important to Grady. That's just where they are right now (and maybe always). Anyway, we were talking and I just said, "Cass, do you want to be pretty?" Cass said yes. "Did you know that sucking your thumb can mess up your mouth and change the way you look?" Don't worry...I'm not a 'pageant mom.' But, like I said, that's important to her. Not because she's a shallow 3 year old :), but that's just who she is. I knew that it would strike a chord and might provide some motivation (everybody needs a 'why'). And guess did.

I could immediately see the wheels turning and she looked away and was silent. That was all that was said.

Later in the day, as I was working on that blog post, she came into my room. She told me that she was going to stop sucking her thumb. And that if she was going to stop sucking her thumb, she needed to give me her blankets. She has never had one particular blanket. She's always claimed as her blankets the soft, thin, thermal baby blankets...only that kind, but we have several. I've seen a correlation between them and the thumb. Every time she would grab her blanket to snuggle, it was automatic to stick her thumb in her mouth. But, I thought it was SOOOO interesting that she made that connection. And she brought me the two blankets that she had out using at the time.

When we were in the states on furlough, I had kind of foreseen this possibility coming one day...breaking the thumb habit by separating her from the blankets. So, I had gotten a special blanket for her for the occasion. She had no idea about this...but she gave up her blankets even without knowing she had a replacement. I was so impressed with her and proud of her.

After she gave me the blankets and we talked for a bit, I told her that I had something for her. I said that I had a special blanket for a little girl who doesn't suck her thumb...a blanket that would help her remember not to suck her thumb. She was so so excited. ;) It was so cute.

We went to the closet and I gave her her new blanket. She loves it and was so excited.

And she has done GREAT. It is a habit that she has literally had since the womb, so it's not an overnight thing. But she is very, very aware. The other day she woke up and came to me and said, "Sorry, Mama." I asked her why and she said, "Because when I woke up, I was sucking my thumb." She has come to sleep with me or I have watched her as she slept (or went to sleep) a few times since she started this. She makes it a very clear point to not suck her thumb as she goes to sleep. But, sometimes in her sleep that 'reflex' happens. I'll just tap her little hand and she'll pull it out. :)

I have to say that I'm going to miss that a little bit. She's still little, so it was still cute when she did it. But, it was time, as evidenced by the the fact that she initiated and it just all fell into place. She really is doing so so good and we are so very proud of her. Good job, Cass!

And now the rest of the hundreds (literally) of Cass pictures. Enjoy...

"Riding the airplane" on the way to the United States.

Some sweet time with brother.

Fun with Aunt Cheryl.
Hanging out with Uncle Vernon.

Modeling their new swimsuits.

Hahaha...she is seriously crazy.


Cute little country girl.

Playing with the soon-to-be Aunt Bonnie...this was the first day they met. ;)
Horsin' around.

What are they doing? ;)
Getting her nails done for Gillian's wedding.
Talking with her friend, Mallory.
At the rehearsal showing the bride and groom that she *didn't* get her ears pierced. ;)
Sweet snuggles.
Getting all wedding-ed up with me and Gillian.
Hanging out, waiting for her big job at the wedding.

Goodbye hug for Papaw.
Fun with Ariel.

Cass and Mama at the wedding.

Getting dressed in cowgirl clothes with Granny is just hilarious apparently. ;)
Happy girl.
Such a big girl riding the horse all by herself.
Big cowgirl conversations with Papaw.
Aww. With my super great friend, Nicole. Love her!
Hannah Graves. What a great picture of Cass with my little flower girl. :)
So tired. Airport-bound. See that strap on the outside of the window? We didn't have a luggage rack, so my dad and brother strapped our luggage to the top of the van for me, wrapping those straps all the way around the van. Haha...missionaries just have to do what they can with what they have.

Tucker with a little jet lag. Cass apparently totally oblivious to the fact that Tucker was completely passed out. ;) Haha.

My little teenager with an iPod.
Singing in VBS.
This girl is crazy. She was not cooperating with taking a picture. Hilarious.
Hahaha...she loves to get in front of the camera.
Being a good Mama.
She looked so cute sitting there in her cowboy boots.

Hahahaha. She was cracking herself up.
Proud of a job well done.

Sweet picture of Cass and Daddy.
Seriously...such personality. :)
Playing with our friend, Carol.
And, of course, doing her hair. :)
I love these with Marcelo and 'his princesses.' ;)

Haha. Soooo silly.

Tio Marcelo.

She did her own hair here. She said, "I did it just like yours. Let's take a picture." ;)
Duet. :)

Riding a bike with Uncle Tucker.
She fell asleep on me at church...hasn't happened since she was a bitty baby. I loved it. ;)
Love these. ;)

So proud of making her shoes all nice and neat for me. Sweet girl.
Doing her own hair now. Got a little 80s hair going on.

Another 80s hair day. Beautiful. :)

Sweet little girl singing on stage at church...a little VBS commencement. She had just been crying about an accident she had. But, was super brave and got up on stage anyway.
"Look, Mama...I made a dinosaur with my pancake!" ;)


One day when I was sickly, she came to keep me company. Then this happened. ;)
She's still pretty compact. She's been so tiny for so long...since we still don't have another baby in our family, that's been really nice. Our arms have still had a little one to snuggle with. ;)

A beautiful picture, that she even decorated with barrettes.

:) She can be sooo silly.

Again with the silly. And, she is looking so old in these pictures.
Love those deep belly laughs.
Playing around on brother's skateboard.

She wanted me to take a picture of her and her arrangment she made.
In a variation of ways. ;)
Konked out one night before she made it to bed.
Bouncing on the couch.
So fun. Haha.
Our friend's name is Emily...she wanted to write her name. I wrote it out for her and she copied. Pretty good, right?
Holding my hand. Love this.
Mmm, chocolate ice cream.

Little stinker not looking at the camera. ;)

My little helper.
:) Right in the middle of everything.

My little Mary girl. ;) Wonder if the mother of Jesus sucked her thumb? I loved this, but this is no longer a scene in our house. So proud of her. :)