Friday, March 16, 2012

Constant Submission

Season of Lent. It's proven to be life-changing both last year and this year. But, in very different ways. This year it was completely 'disrupted' for a time. Monday I started back. Turns out, I'm not doing all the things that I'd planned to do...with the disruption, some of those things were just culled out...just happened that way, naturally. But, Lent fell at a perfect timing this year to coincide with some major stuff in our own lives.

It's so important to remain in constant submission to God, to align yourself constantly with the Holy Spirit and with God's will over your life. To do that, you have to die. Dying is just not a fun process...physically, spiritually, any way you look at it. The other side of that dying is peaceful, but the dying process is so painful.

We're walking through some painful times right now. And I'm not even talking about the issue of the kids. I still think of them all the time, and I grieve. But, the dying process itself is over. Peace has been found on the other side.

If you are friends with me on Facebook, a couple of months ago you may have seen that I said something about how nothing was coming together, everything was going wrong, etc. Those issues are still going on. We still have no answers. And it's crunch time. Answers need to come.

More specifically, this involves our trip to the United States. And it's not just one factor, it's many factors put together that just. aren't. coming together. It's more than just financial. Basically, most of the factors that need to come together aren't coming together. There is nothing...NOTHING...I want more than to get on a plane to 'home.' NOTHING. I dream about it, I think about it, I've made plans in my head of everything that we'll be doing in the next few months. Don't get me here is good. But, a trip home is always very much looked forward to, like nothing else. My kids are SOOOOO excited to go too and talk about it all the time, making their own plans..."When we go to the United States..."'s just not happening.

If we could put off this trip, that would be an option. But, there are specific dates that we were hoping and planning to be back for...for instance, my little brother gets married in August. It's not 'just a trip.' But's just not coming together.

What does that mean? Does that mean that God is calling us to die to that? Does He have other plans for us? Or, does it mean that we just need to have faith and plan for the things 'yet unseen?' What do we need to change about ourselves...our actions, our attitudes, our order for God's plan to go forth, whatever that may be? What is God's answer to all these questions in our hearts and in our circumstances?

Joel and I had an extensive conversation this morning. It involved tears from us both...we are both just at the end of ourselves about this (of course, the exact place we need to be). It reminds me of the Saturday night of our visit with the kids where we were both just desperate for an answer, crying and crying out to God. We find ourselves now in that same spot. Again, it's not 'just a trip' involves our future in many ways.

So, just like so many of you were praying for God's answers to come to us about the kids, please pray with us now for God's answers to come to us concerning our next few months, our next steps. Conversation about our options and feelings at this point has ranged from us just staying here and not taking the trip to the states to us leaving missions for a time. The latter is highly unlikely in my humble opinion (so family, don't get your hopes up). But, the point is that something isn't right...things are not lining up. And it's even come to those kinds of discussions. When I say that we are in a very serious time right now, I mean it.

Change is in the air. Change must come just based on our circumstances (housing, etc.), but even more change than that is in the air. It's crunch time. And we will be engaging ourselves in some desperate prayer sessions. So, please join us. Interceed on our behalf if you can. We would definitely appreciate it. Thank you!

Saturday, March 10, 2012


I'm feeling much better. I still think about the kids all the time, but more and more, with confidence that everything is going to be alright. You know how you know something, but sometimes it takes a while to feel it? I've made it to the feel part now...everything will be ok. Don't know what that might look like...will we never see those kids again? Don't know. But, it'll all be alright. And I'll have to just trust that we are all better for having met each other, no matter what happens in the end.

So...moving on. Forgetting, no...but, moving on. And here we go to another subject.

I've mentioned before, I think on here, but I know on Facebook, that Eissa is our little family mispronouncer. It's really quite funny. We love to hear it and she keeps us entertained. She knows that about herself and sometimes she'll just say something similar to the word and then look up with a twisted face and say, "You know what I'm talking about? It's not that word but it's something like that?" ;)

Her favorite movie in the whole wide world is "Spirit." Oh my word, if I let her she would watch it more than once a day. Why does she love it so much? Well, probably because she is going to be a cowgirl when she grows up.

The other day she was being quite yucky to her little sister. I was explaining to her that she needed to be nice and sweet and kind, not yuck. Then I said, "So what do you want to be?" She promptly said, "A cowgirl."

Hahaha...not really what I was fishing for. I was fully able to ignore the fact that I wanted to lay over laughing and it actually worked out to my advantage that she answered that way..."What kind of cowgirl do you want to be? Did you know that there are no yucky cowgirls? If you want to be a cowgirl, you have to be nice and kind and sweet." Haha. It completely held way more weight that way...if it's associated with a cowgirl, she wants to be that. It worked out great.

So anyway, she is all about the cowgirl (I miss that she no longer calls it 'cowboy girl' by the way). She mentions at least 3-4 times a week how she can't wait to go back to the United States because Papaw is going to teach her how to be a cowgirl when she gets there. :) She is READY. My dad bought them a horse (and outfitted them all in their cowboy/cowgirl attire) and they got just a few couple of days with her last June when the kids and I traveled back for a quick 2-week trip for a wedding...that just wasn't enough time with Ladybug. She can't wait to get back there.

Like I said, "Spirit" is her fave. It's a cartoon about a horse if you're not familiar. Cute movie and also has some great songs by Bryan Adams which I don't mind listening to. When the bad guys capture the horse, at one point they call him a 'mustang.' I was sitting there when the movie was on, as they said that. Eissa was explaining the movie to me at that point. They had just finished saying that he was a mustang. Then Eissa, in her explaining, said, "Sometimes they call him a moustache."

Hahaha. I'm telling you, she does stuff like that all the time and it's so funny and so fun. We love that kid. Completely entertaining to live with her. :)

And now a few more of Eissa's cowgirl days with Ladybug (taken last June), her goldilocks, and just her crazy, fun, goofy self (taken last weekend). :) She's my favorite 5 year old for sure.
I love this one. Pure joy! her!!

Thursday, March 08, 2012


And here I am again, trying to figure out what to say...trying to figure out how I even feel so that then maybe I can string some words together to paint a picture of that.

On Sunday night, after crying all day long, we got in the car to drive home at 8pm. I started out driving and told Joel that I didn't know how long I'd last...I was just emotionally and physically exhausted already, I couldn't see being able to stay awake and drive for very long. My goal was to make it to midnight.

At 4am I pulled over. Nighttime has always been 'my' time, but I think there was more to it here. Seeing as how I was so incredibly wiped out even before I started driving, I just know that God wanted to hang out a bit. I talked to Him a LOT, just non-stop, like any kid who doesn't understand what's going on and why...asking Him to take care of the situation, begging Him to hold on to those kids as I know He will, reminding Him of how He told me He would, and just being sad in general with Him. He understands.

I'm still being sad with Him. And He understands.

Joel started driving at 4am. We got home at 5:30. We all went to bed. I slept until noon. Then I spent literally the rest of the day writing that blog post that I posted on Monday. Then I crashed.

Tuesday Joel went back to work. I was useless. I spent the morning just reading and praying and 'getting my mind on other things.' When Joel came home for lunch, I told him I was going to take a nap while he was here. I didn't wake up until 4:30. Still just trying to recover. I crashed hard that night again.

Yesterday was the first day of relative normalcy. I did some laundry, did some school with the kids, didn't sleep during the day. It is all slowly coming back around.

But, therein lies the problem.

It's so crazy how this has affected me. Our kids are sad for the three kids that we couldn't make a part of our family, but they've returned to normal life. Joel is sad for them and wonders what the big picture of it is, why it all happened the way it did, etc. But, he's returned to normal. Me though?'s just different and I never really saw that coming. We were just going to meet some kids...that's all. No promises, no plans...just going to see if this could work, just going to get some answers. Bada bing, bada boom. Done.

Of course, I knew that it did involve 'getting the kids involved,' obviously, since we were meeting them. But, we really did hope to meet them from a distance. And, after that, possibly get to know them better personally. But, if it came to that, I also couldn't imagine it not being with the purpose of bringing them into our home.

But, it just didn't quite go like that. It was arranged for us to meet them personally from the get-go. When we visited the orphanage right after meeting them, the other kids there right away started asking things like, "Can you adopt me too?" Wow. Our orphanage here is very different, so that caught us off guard. The adults involved all seemed to act almost like this was 'a done deal.' Which all would've been very sweet and endearing had we gotten a 'yes' from God instead of the answer we got.

So, this was the environment and the preparation the kids were coming from. Not their fault. Not our fault. But very, very tragic. It breaks my heart to think of the anticipation...and then the crashing blow.

And just the fact that the answer was 'no.' I am still whirling at that.

Yes, I know all the churchy answers...and I even stated them in the last post. God is faithful. He is. God is taking care of those kids. He really is. He can be trusted. He can...and we do.

I know that I got clear direction from Him. And I know that that was confirmed by Him giving Joel the same answer. I especially know it since it is against what every fiber in my being wants to do. It's easy to follow His direction when it's something you want to do...but I know that this was His answer, because it definitely wasn't mine.

It's honestly really messed with my identity too I guess. Not my identity as far as how others see me (I've never been too concerned with that honestly), but just within myself. How can I be who I know I am and at the same time, this be the outcome? Michawn, the orphan advocate. Who is presented with a group of orphans, the most perfect little orphans you'd ever meet...and tells them no.

How do you resume 'normal' activities after that? How do you dash the hopes of three beautiful, amazing little human beings and then just go back to your regularly scheduled program like nothing ever happened? that's where I am.

How to close this so that I don't get floods of messages reminding me that God is in control and knows what He's doing and sees the big picture even when we don't? Hmm...I guess just refer to my last post and parts of this post...I really do know all of that. But, the other stuff comes too, and that's normal. And it's valid. And it's true. And, it's worth sharing.

And besides, since He sees the big picture, He sees that too...and He understands. He'll be right by my side working me through it. Until then though, our regularly scheduled program might be a little disrupted.

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Kids - Part 2

I don't even know how to write this. Where do I even start? I'm mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted...I'm sure that has something to do with my indecision as to how to write this. But, I'll try...

This weekend was both wonderful and extremely difficult at the same time. We headed out on our travels around 10am Thursday morning. We had packed lunch and snacks and literally only stopped for 2-3 potty breaks (quick stops...on the side of the road, ha) and a fuel-up, so we got to our stopping point for the night around 6pm. We had a great visit with friends (who are more like family, partly because our families really are joined through marriage) there in Matao, Sao Paulo on Thursday night and are so thankful to them for their hospitality to us.

We got up Friday morning and got all ready and headed out again on our way to Leme...the city the kids live in. We grabbed a quick lunch when we got there and then headed straight to the courthouse to meet with the social workers in charge of this case. We ended up meeting in the actual courtroom because of space issues (their offices were too small), which our kids loved...they kept saying, "ORDER IN THE COURT!" Haha. The social workers, Priscila and Rose, gave the kids some paper and markers and colored pencils and we gathered 4 chairs together in a circle and talked. We were asked many questions, we got to ask was a good visit. We were told that the kids were going to come to the courthouse to meet us instead of us go to the orphanage, so then after our little meeting, Rose went off to call the orphanage and tell them to get the kids ready and bring them over...Priscila took our kids one-by-one into her office to talk to them and ask them questions ('interview' them)/answer questions they might have. She was actually going to take the 2 little girls in at the same time, but they were very disappointed with that prospect, so she took them one at a time for their 'special meeting,' just like the older 2. :) Then she called me in to her office too and asked me all sorts of questions, including if we'd had surgery to take care of things so that we'd have no more babies. Haha. That one made me chuckle. It's a foreign world I tell you. I do love answering all sorts of questions though, so I welcomed them all...they were great questions.

By the time I got back out to the courtroom, the kids arrived a couple of minutes later.

Now I want to tell you a little about the kids. I've wanted to tell you before, but I just didn't feel like it was the right thing to do just yet. Now I feel like I can. These kids are: Kauan, a boy, age 9 (he'll be 10 in August), Samira, a girl, age 7 (less than a month older than Hadley), and Diego, a boy, age 4 (will be 5 in May, 2 days after my birthday). They are siblings and their mom was present in their lives, for the most part, in some capacity...but sadly, drugs have a very big hold on her and she has never been able to break free from that. Their grandmother, the mom's mother, was the one who was raising these kids...until she died from something heart-related last year. So very sad for those kids. They then had no family who could take care of them and were forced to enter the orphanage.

We were told that they were very calm, sweet children, good students, obedient. That they appeared to have been given a wonderful start in life with the grandmother's guidance...and this all proved to be true as we got to know them.

They came into the courtroom and we met them. The social workers, Priscila, Rose, and one other social worker at this point, brought more paper. We put some little tables together to make one big table and all sat down. They suggested we maybe draw with the kids, just sit and talk to them, etc. Then they kind of just watched. :) We started talking to them to get to know them, drawing a little, but the kids weren't really into it. Then Joel, who is excellent with creativity (thank God for a creative husband!), suddenly said, "Let's see who can make the best paper airplane and see whose can fly the farthest." Perfect. We needed an icebreaker.

So, everyone started making airplanes, the little girls with some help, and then they started flying paper airplanes all in the courtroom. "ORDER IN THE COURT!" Haha...kidding. It was great. Kauan's won every time...he was a master. Samira was a very shy little girl and was not into the plane thing...which was fine, I wasn't either. So I just sat there with her and asked her a few questions and asked her if she wanted to draw something. She wasn't into small talk...or drawing...just sweetly saying nothing. Priscila came over and traced her hand, then drew some fingernails on her hand while I drew "the only thing that I ever draw," I told her...a house with a tree and flowers and grass outside. :) Remember, Joel's the creative one. :) After the hand was done, I 'painted her fingernails' on her drawing and talked to her. Of course during this whole time the other kids were coming back and forth between the table to create more flying objects and back to test them out. I turned to do something else with another kiddo and looked back and Samira was coloring her drawn hand a beautiful color. When she got done, it was time to leave the courtroom. I showed her all the beautiful drawings that everyone else had made during our time there in the courtroom earlier and now, and told her that I was going to keep them. I asked her if she wanted to keep her hand drawing or if she wanted me to keep it...she said, "you keep" (in Portuguese, she said this in one word). :) Priscila smiled and said, "Well, progress...she spoke one word at least." :) It was cute. Of course I had told her that she didn't have to speak at all if she didn't want to...but, she was starting to get comfortable.

We went together to see where we were going to live for the next 2 days. Then we went together to see the orphanage where the kids live. We talked to the excellent staff there and made arrangements for coming and getting the kids on Saturday and Sunday and then when to take them back each day, etc. We took a little tour of the orphanage and by this time Samira was slipping her little hand in mine at every turn.

We said goodbye and 'see you tomorrow.' We left still praying for clear direction and clarity as to what to do.

The place where we were staying was just a little place where events can be held...birthday parties, etc. There is one room, one bathroom, a kitchen outside under a patio, and a pool...all very basic, but pretty cool. Friday night after going grocery shopping to stock up for the weekend, we went 'home' and took a late night swim, ate cereal for supper, and slept outside on the patio. We went to bed that night looking up at the stars, asking God for very clear direction and clarity as to what to do.

Saturday morning we went and got the kids. All of the kids immediately started swimming after they got there and swam all morning long. Joel and I just sat on the patio and pondered. We were both just caught up in our thoughts and talked some, but thought and prayed a lot too. We talked about all the things that would have to fall into place if we were to do this. Let me just give you an idea of just two of the questionings we had had leading up to this point:

1) The first thing was that the oldest was older than Grady (Grady just turned 8...Kauan is 9 1/2). We had always felt that it was wise to not accept someone that was older than Grady. Many who adopt do, and it works out just great, but we just felt that guideline was right for us. When I first told Grady about this possibility of these kids, on the very day that we got a call about them, he immediately said no...that he wanted to be the oldest. Which I totally and completely understood. We felt the same way. But, for some reason these kids, even though they had that very definite 'no' thing about them (the age), kept lingering in our hearts and minds. I asked Grady to just pray about it and told him that we were doing the same.

The next morning we had received a picture of them via email. I showed Grady the picture and told him these were the kids we had been asked about. He looked and thought and said very sweetly and thoughtfully, "I feel very sad for them. But, I just still want to be the oldest." We still felt the same way too. So I told Grady, "We know. And we understand. We feel that way too. But, just keep praying. Because sometimes what is important to us *is* important, but shouldn't be the most important. Maybe it's more important to give these kids a home and a family." I looked over and Grady had tears rolling down his face...not at the thought of giving up his 'oldest' status, but at the thought of these kids and them having a home/family being more important. Then tears started rolling down my face. He smiled and nudged me and said, "Would you stop?" Grady and I were both in the same boat...what was the right thing in this instance? What *was* the most important thing in this instance...because maybe God really did want Grady to stay the oldest in this family. We didn't know the right answer.

So, Joel and I just prayed that if this was something we were supposed to pursue, that God would change Grady's heart about that.

The next Friday, exactly a week after our original call about the kids, we went to meet with our social worker here. The call about the kids in Leme (Kauan, Samira, and Diego) was a call from the social worker in Leme, in another state. So, our social worker didn't know about this development and we just went to ask about all of our options...and ask, if we were considering someone who was 9 1/2 for heaven's sake, if there were kids available here that were older than 5 (our stated age limit), but younger than Grady. There were none...but there was a group of 4 the same age as the kids in Leme...except the oldest was a girl. We wondered if this would be better...then Grady could still be the oldest boy.

We came home and discussed it all with Grady. He said that it would be better, but that we really needed to go visit 'Group #1' (as he called them), "because they asked first." I asked him about the age thing and he said, "Well, I really want to meet him. If I like him, then maybe that wouldn't matter." By the time we were preparing to leave Anapolis a few days later to go meet them, he was actually calling Kauan 'his new brother' and told us when asked about the age thing, "Oh, I'm over that now." Definitely an answer to prayer and an indication that we should pursue it further.

2) Another big thing was the timing of it all. We have a trip planned to the states in weddings, visiting friends and family, visiting supporters and working to raise our support, etc. We can't put this trip off if we are going to make it to the family weddings. Therefore, would it even be feasible to do all of this and still go to the states? We were presented with 2 options. One was starting the process, going to the states (without the kids of course), then coming back and finishing the process. I couldn't imagine going without the kids for many, many reasons, so we were thinking option 2. Option 2 is that we treat it as an international adoption timetable-wise...but it would involve moving to Leme, where the kids live, for 60 days at least. And even with this option, there is simply no guarantee it would be done in time to take the kids to the states with us. So, as you can see, this was not just a super straightforward endeavor, timing-wise. But, we were more than happy to do this if God opened all the doors for this to happen. And we hoped for clear guidance in this aspect as we took this trip to meet the kids.

There were many other questions in our hearts about it all...homeschool, how the kids would mesh together, the issue of language, etc. Again, we were hoping this trip would answer many of these questions and we also really did feel the peace to pursue, esp. after God answered that prayer about Grady and the age issue.

So...what did we find out? Did God provide a clear answer, and if so, what is it?

After a full, great day of playing, our kids and 'Group #1' really getting along great with zero problems, praying praying and more praying, on Saturday night we were in turmoil. We hadn't felt a total peace about a 'no,' we hadn't felt a total peace about a 'yes.' Joel left to take the kids back to the orphanage, our kids were watching a little movie on the computer in the little room, and I just got on the patio and cried out to God. Literally cried and sobbed and begged Him for an answer. By the time Joel got back from the orphanage, I had my answer.

It had rained all afternoon and become quite chilly...we got showers and put the kids down to sleep in the cozy room there. I got done in the room and went out to the table on the patio there with Joel. He was praying and reading His Bible. I sat down and ate. Then we prayed together, asking for God's will no matter what.

When Joel was gone, the answer that I received was layered. 1) I was to trust God with these kids no matter what. 2) I received the answer. 3) I had asked God to give Joel the same answer...and I felt like He assured me He would.

We prayed together and Joel said through tears what he felt like the answer was...a no. I, having no tears left, just nodded my head. We prayed together again, many tears returning to me at this point, and I exhaustedly went straight to bed.

The next day was brutal for me. Have you ever broken off a relationship with someone, or been 'broken up' with, and you know it's the right thing, but your heart is broken into millions of pieces regardless of the 'rightness' of it? The thing that hurts the most is not knowing why. You know it's the right thing, even though you can't see the big picture and everything seems perfect from what you can why? Not only that, but you are not the only one it hurts others too.

In those times you have to just trust...know that God can see the big picture of everything in all time to come. Know that He loves those kids more than anyone here on earth ever could and that He is bringing about the right things for them in His timing.

There was NOTHING about these kids that scared us off or said 'no' to us...nothing. They were perfect! There was nothing about the circumstances that scared us off or said 'no' to us...not the age thing, not the timing thing, not even the moving thing...nothing.

There was only one thing. Peace. A very sad peace and a very difficult peace to accept. But, a peace. And that peace came with the answer 'no.'

Now, could it be that that 'no' is only for now and not for forever? Could it be that it's a 'no' in the way we were going about it or the timing of it all right now and maybe, in the future at some point, it could be a 'yes?' You can count on it that if we get peace with a 'yes' at any point, we will be back down there getting those sweet kids. Anything is possible with our God. Believe me, I have not forgotten those kids. But, Who has those kids on His mind even more than I do is God. And I trust Him.

We told our kids what God had given to us as His answer on Sunday morning. Grady later asked, "Did you hear Him in a vision?" I love their curiosity and the conversations we have. We had a GREAT day with Kauan, Samira, and Diego. It seriously was absolutely perfect. The sun had returned and we swam and played all day long. They are so similar to us in the way they act...their grandmother did an amazing job, esp. considering the other factors she had going on around her. They are such a tight sibling group and are so sweet to each other, looking out for each other and helping each other. Our kids meshed couldn't have gone better.

We went ahead and told Kauan, Samira, and Diego before lunch what we felt like our answer had been. It was horrible. Not the way it went fine. But, how is that ever ok? Really. We just told them that we had come to meet them, to see what God wanted to say about them to us, that we had prayed for clarity as to what the very best for them would be, and that even though we didn't always understand everything, we trust God that He knows what's best. We assured them that it was nothing that we or they said or did or anything...that they were perfect, beautiful people and the weekend was perfect. But, that that was the answer we got. And that we were praying for them.

And that's just the best you can do in that conversation...I could not hold back the tears at the end. It's a horrible conversation to have. But, we trust God with the rest.

They 'seemed' to take it well. The 2 little ones were playing with Leapsters and cell phones during the conversation actually. :) They never looked up. Kauan was sweet as ever and was 'fine.' After that I could tell he was pondering it all though...he was quiet for a bit, 'in his own head'...but, shortly he started playing normally again. I'm praying so hard for them right now...these days can't be super easy on them.

I'm honestly also praying that this isn't the last I hear from them. Whether it becomes the 'right timing' for us with them or whether they get placed in a loving, sweet other perfect-for-them family soon, I'm just praying for whatever it is that God's seeing as the big picture to come about quickly.

I cried all. day. long yesterday. I just couldn't stop. It would just hit me all of a sudden. I haven't had anything affect me like this in a long's been exactly 16 years actually. But this time it's not necessarily my heart, or just my heart, that I'm mourning over. I'm thinking of those kids and the hopes they had on Friday, and the hopes, or lack of, they were left with just two days later and how that is affecting them. We wanted to even meet them 'incognito' for this very reason, but we were told that was not possible.

It comes back to God's very clear first answer to me on Saturday night. "You can trust Me with these kids." So I do. I cry and I pray...and I trust with everything I have.

What was the purpose of all of this then, if not to make those kids a part of our family? Well, personally, of course things like this bring you to your knees even more than you normally are...closer to God and closer to your spouse, etc. We also feel pretty sure that we probably won't pursue any other children older than Grady, so that's a clarity that came with this...not that that had anything to do with the 'no' answer for this group, but it does just complicate an already complicated process and we feel pretty solid in our specified ages that we put on our profile (we'll see though...anything is possible in the future). It was a great process to go through with our kids, learning how to let go of certain expectations (Grady and the age thing), etc. So...but that's all about us. What about those sweet kids? Why put them through this? Sigh. I don't know. That's part of the agony of it all. Of course there are the things like they got to have a fun two days with some fun new friends (who they may or may not ever see or hear from again in their reality, because it might not even be allowed that we be able to keep in contact with them through letters, etc.). And, that's about all I can think of, naturally speaking. I pray that God, in all His sweet mercy and providence, is taking care of all that. *I can trust Him with those kids.* Of course you know that logically, but God said that very clearly to me personally, so that's what I'm going to do.

Thank you so very much for the prayers and thoughts and love. We so so so appreciate it. We have the best friends ever and we are so very grateful for you all.

Please keep these sweet, wonderful kids in your prayers. God is not done with them. And who knows...maybe we'll be a part of God's plan for them in some way after all (I hope). But, either way, He's not done. Pray for them and their sweet little hearts. Thank you.

Do you want to see pictures of this weekend and those fabulous three kids with our fabulous four kids? Good. :)

"ORDER IN THE COURT!!" Haha...this picture makes me laugh. The courtroom. Our 'circle' is there behind Joel and the kids were coloring/reading in the jury section there on the right. When the kids came in to meet us, they walked right in that door in the back of the room there. :) It was such a cute sight.
This was the circle of chairs we were in with the social workers.
After we met with the social workers in our little circle, I looked through the drawings that the kids had brought to me. This was one from Hadley. "I love you so so so much. I am praying for the path that God had led us into. I hope God makes it very clear to you and Daddy. I love you too, Daddy. I hope God lets us have a good trip. Right now I can't believe that we are in court." That last part made me chuckle. That other stuff made me so grateful.
Picture of all the kids right after we met them. Soooo cute!

I've decided if we do ever have 7 kids and have to live within walls like this, a pool is a must. This was so fun.
Kauan taught Grady how to play pool. There was lots of this this weekend...pool and pool...swimming and billiards. Fun.
Lunch on Saturday.

The 7 year olds doing some dishes together.
The start of Day the sunscreen line. ;)

You can't tell really well because of the darkness, but Kauan was making everyone laugh.
Look at Diego in the background cracking up. Hahaha.
I love these shots...

O.K., now jump!
Haha...Kauan and Samira headed straight for the rafts.
Then lots and lots of playing ensued.

Samira really got brave in the water by the second day...going under the water in the shallow end, etc. I even got to teach her how to swim a little. :)
These two were so cute together.

Hadley and Diego.
Grady and Kauan shooting the breeze. Little sidenote: Eissa started swimming, all on her own, while we were there this weekend. So, congratulations to Eissa on that accomplishment.

I just thought these other ones were cute too. :)

They got the dolphin up and working. :)
Kauan told Grady to come get in the picture because it was them two that worked on it and came up with the idea together.
Sitting together again over popsicles.

Diego getting some help from Eissa who is 7 months older than him.
Grady helping Kauan out with a game.
A sweet little feminine girl.
Kauan is such a great big brother, very protective and helpful with his little sister and brother...very! Samira is just a sweet cute little girl, but also definitely watches out for her little brother, being sure to tell him when he's doing something wrong and also telling him how cute he is. :) And Diego...oh Diego. fun. He's super cute...and completely mischievous. Hahaha. Loved it.
Kauan getting on to Diego for not smiling. Haha.
He cracks me up. Look at him cracking himself up about being a little squirt. Haha! Love.
Adorable. Such great kids!
Kauan and Grady.
Two nice-looking boys, right?
"O.K., now don't smile."
I got this good one without smiles, sort of. The rest I took just to play with them. :)
Don't smile, don't smile, don't smile.
Oh forget it...the smile is coming. :) Haha.
Hadley wanted a picture with Samira...the two 7 year olds. I wish now that I'd thought to get a picture of the 3 little ones together after this picture, but I didn't think of it.

After these pictures, we gave them a couple little gifts that we'd gotten for them. Then after some hugs (including the strongest, longest hug ever from Kauan), they were on their way. :(

Trusting God.