Thursday, March 31, 2011

Decisions to be made.

I don't know what to write. I don't know how to collect the many thoughts running through  my mind in a concise and organized manner. This, I do know...

Lessons learned:

These past two years, God has taught us much. This past Sunday at Arrowbrook, our pastor, who is preaching through Jeremiah, said, "The Lord wounds before he heals. He afflicts us before He comforts us. We're not meant to be comforted before first the Lord has afflicted our soul and saved us and then He comforts us. First the Lord must wound with the preaching of sin and repentance which wounds and cuts the conscience and then the cross is the healing balm for the soul...."  Though he was applying this to salvation, it was very applicable to the past two years of our lives. He afflicted us much and as a result, taught us much about our own arrogance and thinking too highly of ourselves. He taught us much on what is shakeable and what is not. He taught us much on faith that He gives, not thatnwe muster up, apart from Him.

God gives and He takes away. He is good. Whatever blessing and whatever challenge He gives to us is for our good and His glory. It has not come from anyone else, but Him. He is good. He is for us. Therefore, we can believe whatever hardship, however severe it might be, it is right for us to go through, because it is from our good God who is in control of all and for His children. Our hearts are anchored in that Truth. If any of those factors were not true, there would be reason to panic, be angry, full of fear, bitterness, rage, despair, and force. Two choices. That's it. No gray. Am I wrong?

Upcoming decisions; The here and now. 

We are facing another challenge. Another decision to be made. We need prayer.

We are so excited about Keano's adoption to be finalized. So excited.

We heard from Namibia this morning. Our social worker asked for a range of dates we would be in Namibia so she could set a court date. We gave her a range of 7 days. She wrote back and said that though going before the magistrate (judge) is a one time thing, the adoption itself can take up to five weeks to be processed.

We also heard from S. Africa this morning. We have to get a brief interview at the US embassy and a medical check up for Keano. The email said that if Keano has ever had TB (he has not) then it could take up to 6 weeks to get the results for the medical check up done. I don't know if they will take our word for it, or not. Keano does not have many medical records. We have a few ideas to try and prove that he has not had TB, but it comes down to their decision.

We had planned to spend 7 days in Namibia and 5 days in S. Africa. We thought it would be more than sufficient. We have not planned for 11 weeks.

I called yesterday (before we knew these details) to reserve (not purchase) tickets for Todd, myself, Keano, and Felicity. My parents and in-laws are willing to watch Gloria and Faith. Felicity's ticket is only 10% of the adult ticket, so we thought we'd make it easier on our parents and take her with.

When I reserved the tickets, the travel agent told me that fuel taxes were up to about $480/ticket. The cost for T, K, and myself to fly is right at about $6000 total. Felicity is 10% of an adult size tickets.

We need to decide if: we:

A.) Fly back after a week in Namibia and wait here in America - flying back again (buying new tickets for T, K and myself) when it is approved, taking just a day or two in Namibia to go to the embassy and then going to South Africa (Keano's US visa is good until June.)

B.) Fly the whole family over to Namibia, and waiting there for paperwork, Todd flies back after a week and rejoins once paperwork is received. I wait in Namibia until it is processed with the children.

Please pray for us tonight if we come to mind. We need to make our decision tonight, because we must finalize our tickets tomorrow. There is no way we could leave our girls for the potential duration of this process.

Please, would you pray that the Lord would give us clarity as we talk and decide what to do this evening? Pray that we would be grounded on all that is true of God... all that He has taught us, and what His Word says is right.

PS.  2 more things that didn't fit anywhere else.

1. Keano's all time favorite song is "Lead Me." (Sanctus Real) He keeps singing all the time "Lead me with strong hands... stand up when I cant...." (Totally random.. Rather ironic. Don't even think he realizes it's implications....yet.

2. This trip would mark almost exactly 2 years since the Lord brought us back. It would be Felicity's first time in Africa.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday morning drama

The day just wouldn't be complete without it.

So, Todd got up with the girls this morning and I was sleeping in. Now if I stopped at that sentence, it would be lovely, but no. Ooooooh no!...No loveliness at all.

What I came down the stairs to was anything but peaceful. By all the ruckus you would have thought we were in the middle of a natural disaster. And, if we dropped the word natural, it WAS a disaster. I mean a HUGE disaster. In fact, of all the time we've lived in this house (I know, less than a year, really... but still), we have never had disaster on this grand of scale.

Apparently, on Faiths way out of the bathroom (with no one behind her), her little two year old hands locked our one and only bathroom door. Yes, you read that right; one and only bathroom. It's an old farmhouse. I guess back in the 1800's when this beauty was designed, only one bathroom was essential. Not so much the case now. (Not complaining of course, but still, a set up for disaster.)

I flew down the stairs with lightning speed, convinced that some one was surely dying.

"What's going on?" I asked, my eyes darting back and forth looking for the injured person I was sure I would find.

"Faith locked the bathroom door, and we've all got to go!" said a wild eyed Keano.

Well, gooooood morning, Sunday. 

I wish I could give you a moment by moment, but at this point it is still a bit of a blur.

Todd had tried about every reasonable possibility he could to pick the lock. It wasn't working. He was already late for Sunday school for the class he was teaching. The tension was mounting.

I walked around the outside of the house bare foot (my feet are still cold) and tried the windows. Locked. Nothing like trying to break into your own house.... especially when it's to no avail.

Keano, after he announced that he just 'went' in the woods, saw the entire event as an adventure. A mystery to be solved. (It wasn't as cute as it sounds, at the time.)

Gloria, who has a good cold going on, just kept wimpering, "I neeeeeeed a tissue. My nose wont stop running!"

Faith, who is newly potty trained, with the bladder the size of a pea, starts saying "Mommy, I need to go pee pee." I ignored her. What was I to do? If I explained to her that we couldn't right now it would just make a bad thing worse.

My reasoning worked for all of....say, hmmmm..... two minutes. Then came the potty dance. MOMMY. PEE PEE!! Enough said.

Moving along...

Felicity, who has the least worries in the world when it comes to bathrooms, just wanted to be in the mix and under our very busy feet.

So, there we were.. All 6 of us, down a narrow little hall, doing our best to stay in the front and get through a locked door. Recipe for disaster.

We were done for. Done. For.

There's a chain saw in the chicken coup. I would lie if I said we didn't seriously contemplate it. If it wasn't for the fact that we weren't entirely sure how to use it, this stories ending would probably be significantly different.

I put all my effort into the last shred of sanity that I had and called the landlords. Who, conveinently enough, are my parents. I know, this probably should have come well before this moment. We weren't really thinking straight, if you hadn't noticed.

My dad rushed over. His handy dandy collection of tools in tote, ...and in about 2 minutes flat, saved the day.

Yup, just like that. A tug here, a twist there, some magic mechanical sprinkle dust, and it was over.

Six eyes on the toilet, 12 feet rushing in. Privacy on the other side of a now open door.

In Namibia checking out Dad's beard. (Keano in the middle)
Little Faith
He loves 'his girls'

In Namibia. Dad on my left. T on my right. One of my favorite photos :)

One day, we'll laugh about this. One day, after we get a door knob that doesn't lock.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday

So, if you haven't already heard we're doing this @Home Biggest Loser Challenge and I think the rubber is meeting the road, folks. My mother-in-law calls these last 10lbs the 'hard lard,' and I think she just may be right. Todd's lost 18lbs and I've lost 12lb. The competition is over at the end of May and I still have ten to lose. T looks great!

A few observations....

Self control at this stage is very difficult. The more I deny myself (by the grace of God) the more I realize how self indulged I had become. Yikes-A-Rama!

I'm trying to season meals with actual seasonings and not sauces. No complaints as of yet, and I actually like how much of the 'food' I can taste.

I have a new found and quite serious love for fresh CILANTRO. I literally put a small bowl of it on the table and throw it on whatever (salty) food item on my plate. Delicious!

Seedless tangerines keep my sweet tooth (teeth?) at bay.

My 'snack' is a graham cracker, border line invisible layer of peanut butter, and 4 (or so) sliced strawberries on top. I look forward to snack time.

I'm ready to give up grocery shopping and hand it over to T. I buy too much. We don't need it. I regret it.

Seeing the scale go from 1X0 to 1X9 made me giddy.

I took our hound dog on a run for the first time. She kicked my butt! It's still sore. I don't think I've run that far and that long since having children.

I love to run outside. Highly dislike the treadmill.

water, water, water, water, water,... and then some more!

Smaller portions and only one serving is very difficult.

I'm so very disciplined with my food in the day, but something happens when the sun goes down. Scary, I know!

Keano and I are having a race to get a six pack. He's already won, but doesn't realize it. ....Shhhhhh

Ok, a bit more 'thoughtful,' but I've been pondering something on bit of a deeper level. Bear with me.

Stay at home mom + 4 kids + homeschooling (at this stage anyway) requires me to be on at a level that I might not be if I didn't have all three said dynamics. Don't get me wrong. I love it and wouldn't change it for anything, but just as it has it's rewards, it also has it's challenges. (For the record, the rewards, far out weigh any challenges :)

My point is that I've been challenged in my heart that if I require a certain level of compliance (that word sounds so yucky. Is it just me? I promise I don't ever use it.) then what of my own self? It seems rather wrong of me to not allow my children to indulge in yet another cookie, or another scoop of ice cream, or more chips and yet when they are out of site, what am I doing?

I do realize we aren't peers and that the standards are different. I'm just simply reflecting on my own standards and wondering if they are a bit too low....and am I teaching and expecting one thing from my children, yet doing the opposite myself.

Either way, it leads me to conclude....

Oh, how I need the grace of God!

 (Just love this Father/Daughter pic and thought I'd share it with ya. Nothing much to do with the post ;)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Keano is ELEVEN!

I just can not get over the fact. Eleven. Eleven?? ...Eleven!

Doesn't that sound rather old, or is it just me?

According to Keano, he is no longer a child, but a young man. This, he determined, is true because at most restaurants he no longer can order off the children's menu.

Alrighty, my young man, you have to be the most cutest, adorable, too-clever-for-your-own-good, young man that I know. Yes, I know that when you read this, the first question you'll ask is 'Mom, how many people read this? This is embarrassing!' To which I'll answer, 'I really don't know, my sweetie. ...but it's too late now, anyway. Whatever three people do read it, have already done so :) ....I know having a mom is ohsotough these days.'

So, I thought that we could do a little remembering with photos, since we do often anyway, and the three other people might enjoy seeing them as well.  Sound like fun?

Here we go.....

Here you are with Daddy. This is the first week the Lord brought us together. Look how cute you are! We all remember this week well. You and Daddy have always made a great team.

Here you are in the kindergarten you helped so hard with. ...Right there in the middle, just next to your cousin Martin, giving a 'thumbs up!'
This is one of my favorites. I wish we had more. God has given you a very special gift in that you have two mothers who love you very much and would do anything for you.
Here you are in Oupa's suitcase the first time they came to visit. You wanted to go with them :)
Here we are having a sleep over with our Namibian family. I miss those!
Just a couple days before Gloria's arrival. You were soooo oooooh excited!
Your birthday. That was a fun present!
 Found you and Gloria like this. So sweet.....
Wrestling. We loved going to all your competitions.
  Skittle house friends!
Here you are with Daddy at Spur celebrating your 7th birthday. I miss this tradition. Do you remember how they would come out with drums and sing such a funny happy birthday song as they painted your face with chocolate? That was FUN!
First time in America visiting TEXAS family.  Here is you and Daddy, Grandpa, and Uncle Troy.
 With Grams and Gramps. They love you so very much!
 In Swakop. We had lots of fun on those dunes!
 At the ocean for the first time.
 Were you scared? I don't think so ;)
Holding your second little sissy, Faith. She turned out to be quite the handful ;)
With Ouma and Oupa at Hero's Acre

Having fun in our home in Namibia. Love this!
Big brother.
 Home School Projects. You're so creative!
 Christmas in our PJ's.
Playing Fan Tan, your favorite card game. You're tough to beat!
With Faith-y
 With Gloria
With Felicity
With Daddy. You guys are so tough.
You're such an awesome tennis player.
In NYC on the subway with Daddy. This was such a hard trip. Daddy took you to NYC to put you on the plane heading to Africa. We didn't know when we would see you again. God has been so good to us.
 You fooled a lot of people with those hats!
 And after 8 very long months, the Lord brought you back to us.... You met your sister, Felicity, for the first time. She jumped into your arms.
 Your Ouma and Oupa were waiting at the house with your sisters to greet you.
With Gloria and a much bigger (and still feisty) Faith.

So, brave warrior, here we are, almost 6 years from the time the Lord brought us all together and we couldn't be happier. We love you, Keano. We are so glad God has poured His love into our hearts for each other. On your birthday, we not only celebrate with GREAT JOY the day that you were born, but we remember how despite many many obstacles, some still yet to be overcome, God has been and always will be good. He has been good to you. He has been good to us. ...And He always will be because He is FOR us. We must never forget that.
This year, we look forward to traveling back to Namibia to finalize those last details so that what has been done in our hearts will be finalized on paper.  And we will rejoice!

We love you. You are precious to us. Happy 11th Birthday!

Mom and Daddy.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It's been busy.

I am exhausted. I mean, super, duper, over the top,!

Is it just me, or has this seemed like the longest winter, EVER? We've seemed to have sickness after sickness over here and I'm just plum worn out, folks. I was able to avoid most all it myself until this past one. And let me just tell you, I was down for the count. In fact, I still don't think I'm quite up-and-at-em yet.

My mom and T tag teamed the family and I'm one thankful Mama, because for all intensive purposes, I was too busy trying to stay alive and fight whatever crud had seemed to invade my entire body, and in fact, is still holding on. Enough is enough, already!

Ahem...... moving on.....

So, Keano turned 11 yesterday. Yes, in the midst of my illness, I did not write a blog post..... yet. (Rest assured, one will be coming).

Gloria is turning 4 on Monday, directly followed by my Dad's birthday on Sunday. It's a busy week.

Felicity is now standing on her own. Still have mixed feelings about her growing so quickly.

Faith can now count to 10 and is quite pleased with herself, though she pretends to be shy. She's a girl. She likes to tease.

But, what I really wanted to write about is prayer. Yes, prayer.

In this house, it's difficult to even pee by yourself, let alone, take time to get away and pray. And I want to pray.

Well, couldn't you be doing that write now, you might ask? No, no I can't. I'm busy sitting at the kitchen table (writing this blog), with Faith on my lap eating her snack, reasoning with Gloria why she can't have yet another one because she has already had too many, keeping an eye on Felicity as she is trying to climb on anything she possibly can that might give me a near heart attack, and listening to Keano tell me all about his future (bounty hunter) career plans, all while trying to dodge orange juice that is flying through the air as he squeezes his orange into the cup in front of him.

And, relatively speaking, this is a pretty low key moment. I'm not kidding. 

Don't get me wrong, though we have a pretty lively bunch, they are also very sweet and precious and I wouldn't trade my job for anything. I mean, anything.

That being said, I want to pray.

I want to pray, I want to pray, I want to pray.

I don't have a grand solution, but let this encourage your heart, as it is mine.

As you are living by the moment, or living by the schedule, or somewhere in between, take the moments in the midst of your work and life to pray. If you are able, take the time out, to pray, but don't let your busyness stop you from praying... even in the midst of it. 

I can some times fall prey (no pun intended) to thinking that unless I have X amount of time to pray, then it's just not worth it to start. ...But what is that based on? One thing is for sure, I'm certain it's nothing from Faith. 

Faith that God pours in causes our hearts to say that despite the chaos of this moment, God is here and He hears. He is the one who puts the prayer in our hearts, so let it pour forth. Don't wait! ....While your doing the dishes, while your changing those diapers, while your playing games on the floor, or cleaning the bathroom, pray.

God is good, my friend, and though there are times we have the luxury of getting away, there are times we don't. Don't let that hold you back from communicating with your Father what He is already communicating to you.

"For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people..." (2 Cor 6)