Monday, November 12, 2012

Capture Gratitude: October

"Through Him then, let us continually offer up a 
sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips 
that give thanks to His name."
Hebrews 13:15

Oh, it was a GOOD month. And we're definitely in the part of 2012 when I every moment reminds me of where we were in 2011. So much to be thankful for!

Tobin spent September WAITING for the leaves to start falling. As soon as leaves fell, out came the rakes. T & Micah entertained themselves for hours last month raking leaves into piles. WIN.

Nothing like ice cream to celebrate hard work at school. We let Tobin get a waffle cone...which ended up being almost as big as his head. He was THRILLED.

This is more hit or miss than I like... But I am really trying to spend one-on-one time with Luke. With 2 smaller brothers, and a busy schedule of his own, I feel like this is hard to come by. If I don't have meetings on Friday afternoons, I like to pick him up from school and go grab some coffee/hot chocolate with him. We like to play a game or something...but this particular Friday was the week before our retreat in Colorado, and I had a TON of preparation to do. So Luke read for school while I worked - and it was still a sweet time. Plus: Pumpkin Scones.

One of my very dear friends got married, being pretty sure that she could not have biological children. It's a long story, but the happy ending is that at the beginning of October, this little pumpkin was born. I LOVE HER.

And a few weeks later... What a CUTIE.

Matt's Dad & Stepmom (Omi & Opi!) came down for dinner and doughboys. Yay!

And then the next week, we headed out to Matt's mom & stepdad's (Grammie & Papa!), for Sara's birthday. Yay for fun times with our sweet Nebraska family!

And lest I present a too-perfect picture of my boys... Please don't be fooled. Check out the middle school boy shenanigans.

If you've been reading my blog for long, this first picture needs no words. I love footie pajamas.

One of the highlights of our Fall is the retreat we take students on every October, to a lovely camp near Estes Park, CO. It is beautiful, and the Lord is always SO GOOD to work in us and in our group during our time there.

This year was especially rich... It was a crazy retreat, everything we planned got unplanned and had to be replanned. And while we started off thinking our numbers would be severely limited, it ended up being the biggest trip we've ever done (EIGHTY women. Eight-Zero. That is a lot of women.)

We had a WONDERFUL time in Colorado, and I am so thankful to get to do what we do with college students. But it was SO GOOD to come home to our boys.

Last year we were in Uganda, which was lovely. But it was awfully nice to be home for the whole American shebang. And getting to introduce Micah to it all was a DELIGHT.

For more Halloween fun, click here.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Looking back...

I mentioned in this week/month's Capture Gratitude post that this time of year has been very poignant, as every date reminds me where we were this time last year. It really is amazing to look back and remember all the Lord did in our time in Uganda.

On November 8...
It’s official…he’s OURS. WHOOP! And we should get the written ruling TOMORROW.

People. This is record time. I can hardly believe it. Praise the LORD for His mercies. (On the other hand, I keep expecting the other shoe to drop. Why do I always assume the Lord will chose the harder path for me? I totally trust Him to provide completely for me on whatever path He chooses, but I just expect that it will be the harder path.)

You can pray we’d get the written ruling as planned…for the visa process (even after we have guardianship, we still need permission to bring M into the states. And it feels like they are changing the rules even while people are in the middle of the process (change for the better, but it’s still hard when you’re told one thing at the beginning, but then get caught up by something new.) I am almost positive that our case still follows all the rules. (but see what I mean about waiting for the other shoe??)

You might also pray for wisdom… It’s possible that I could come home (with MM!!!) much earlier than my originally planned flight on 12/4. That’s going to be a lot of decision making with Matt & I continents (and 9 time zones) apart. We’ll be weighing the cost difference between staying (once MM & I move away from the babies home, it will cost us $50/night, plus any travel/food) and the cost of changing my ticket (I get one free change, but have to pay the difference in fare, if it’s a higher fare.) We also have to purchase a 1 way ticket for MM and make sure he can get on all the same flights as me – this is why we’re using a travel agent, and not booking ourselves.

More later, along with some adorable pictures I took today before we headed to court! Oh, and speaking of court… We were there by 12:30 and didn’t leave until 7:30…another marathon day. This time they had us sit/wait in the actual judges chambers hearing other cases. It was really interesting, but also hard as lots of hard/private details were shared. I prayed and prayed for the other families there, especially as hard things in their cases surfaced.
On November 9...
My boys just left and I'm cheering myself up by reading all of the sweet notes and celebration from everyone. My heart is really touched, for our family, but also for our little guy, who is already SO LOVED. Thankful.

Matt & Luke said goodbye to all the babies today...and "SEE YOU SOON!" to Micah Marvin.

And y’all. Luke was so sad to leave Micah Marvin. It’s really sweet. I’m hoping it won’t be long at all before they are together again!!

We got to take MM out today – our excuse was to take passport photos, which I needed 4 more of – but we also took the time to enjoy a couple of hours away from the baby home with our sweet boy. We also had lunch at the most American place here, burgers and fries. It was yummy!

Some things to continue to pray for…
… Lord willing, I’m picking up our written ruling tomorrow. Pray it would be ready as promised? And pray God would give me wisdom with any financial requests our lawyer makes. Also, please pray for safety as I’ll be carrying a lot of money.

… Friday morning I’ll drop off our ruling and LOTS of forms. Please pray that I have everything I need, and for a speedy visa process!

… Would you also pray for Micah Marvin’s heart, as I begin to transition him out of the orphanage and to family life? If we’re able to get our written ruling tomorrow…drop everything off at the embassy Friday…there’s a chance I could get my exit interview next week or early the following. I’m going to try to move away from the babies home a week to 5 days before leaving the country.

…. Will you pray that the Lord would BOND Micah Marvin to me, and me to him, that he would begin to feel safe and secure, that his fears of abandonment would surface so that I can address them, and that the Lord would love MM through me. Pray also for wisdom to recognize and empathize with his struggles, plus patience, and strength for me.

This traveling/legal part of adoption is the kind of obvious battle, the one that’s exciting to live and watch… But in many ways, the battle for MM’s heart is just beginning. I am super excited to allow the Lord to use us to love and teach MM what it means to have a father and mother, to be a brother, to live in a family…to teach him how to love and be loved. But I know that it will be hard, so I covet your prayers for that process…we NEED the Lord to go before us!!

Now rather than sitting around feeling lonely, I'm going to watch a movie on my computer and knit. By myself. Once we get home, who knows if I'll ever get a minute to myself again, so I'm going to try to ENJOY however long I have here :).

You guys are the best. SERIOUSLY.
November 10
So… Still waiting. We do have a signed written ruling, but there was an error in the guardianship order (which is usually signed at the same time by the judge?) Our lawyer waited until 8:30 Tuesday night hoping they’d reprint it so the judge could sign it then, but the clerk was tired. Sigh.

I have several of the important papers I need to take to the embassy…but can’t go without the signed ruling, and Micah Marvin’s passport. Which we’re also waiting on – there’s some sort of hold up in the passport office (this is a Ugandan passport.) Our lawyer is hopeful she can get both tomorrow, and I can pick them up Monday morning. Since I can only go to the embassy between 7:30 – 11:30 MWF, it seems like a lot to hope that I’ll be able to pick those things up AND get over to the embassy Monday morning…but we’ll see!

Will you pray for each of those things (the guardianship order…the passport…and also the release I need from the babies home, which I have, but need to get signed…) 
I would love to have all of those things and be able to go to the embassy Monday morning (especially since I’d been hopeful that I could go tomorrow.) But also pray for my heart to REST. Just knowing it’s possible to happen quickly gets my hopes up and makes me anxious for MOVEMENT, and to begin to plan (you know I love having a plan!) But this is Africa (TIA!), and I want to rest and enjoy, not be driving myself crazy trying to be in charge of things and people I’m certainly not in charge of!

The very good news is that I did not have to go with a driver or a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) to my lawyer’s office… My sweet Ugandan friend Susan, who is on staff with Navigators at a university right near the babies home, came and picked me up. Susan is one of those friends whom I’ve only spent a little time with, but we just connect, and have SO MUCH in common, despite being from such different places. It’s also great in the midst of such different service/ministry from what I’m used to – to take a little break from loving babies to talk college ministry. So fun.

We had a wonderful chance to catch up and visit while we waited to meet with my lawyer. I was not very excited about going to the office by myself today, or traveling with all that money… so getting Susan’s call and offer of a ride was like a surprise gift from the Lord!!

That was my afternoon…so refreshing! But I do feel like I’m getting a cold. I feel tired and my throat hurts. One of the kiddos in M’s class was puking up his guts this morning (multiple times right next to me), so I decided I’d better rest this afternoon. I’m going to go over in a bit and help with dinner and the changing/bath/bed routine (otherwise known as the wet naked babies game), and to see my little guy for a bit more!

I did have a lovely morning (if you don’t count the vomit…which you never should, obviously.) I went over for the 7AM shift, and heard morning devotions (the mamas sing praise songs to a big drum and pray and have a Bible message every morning…I LOVE hearing people sing in another language, particularly worship :D), then helped to get the kids bathed and changed for class. After they got settled in class, I came back and had breakfast and some devotional time myself. Then I went back over and helped with snack and the second part of class. They had a Ugandan man come in with a guitar and sing for them (so wish I could record the kids saying 'guitar' with their little accents – geeTAR!)
It was fun in the toddler room (M’s class), the kids LOVE to dance, especially our little guy! Then we took all the toddlers and the geeTAR man over to the baby room so everyone could enjoy. That got a little nuts (probably 40 kids under the age of 3?), but I just sat down and let the ones who always want to be held crawl all over me. I did snatch up one baby, so I got some good baby time, which I don’t often get, since I’m always with the older group. By this time (I’d been with them for over an hour), MM was happy to dance and play, just checking every now and again to see if I was still there. When I first show up, he clings to me and wants to be held…after I’ve been around for a while he moves on to play on his own, but I like that I catch him checking to see if I’m still around. Sometimes if he sees I’m holding someone else, he comes over and claims his spot with me, but today he was having such a good time shaking maracas and dancing, he was OK with everyone else getting a turn with me.
We sang “You are my Sunshine” for probably 10 minutes, it was so fun, and brought back fond memories of my friends Jessica and Dionna :). Then we sang a bunch of Christmas songs, and any other songs the man could think of in English (for the toddlers, he sang in Luganda…don’t know why). After he left, the mamas played the drums again and we sang, among many other things, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” HILARIOUS. I love that song.
I'm going to continue to share what I was going through this time last year, from my super-secret prayer warrior facebook group. But for now, you can know that getting our ruling so fast was a false promise as far as getting us home faster went.... I went through the "you'll get your passport in 2 days" routine until the END of November. 3 weeks. I won't share all of those updates because many of them are basically, "Still waiting. More vomit." That about sums it up! It seemed so long at the time, but now I miss Uganda so much. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Trick or Treat!

It has been brought to my attention by several family members that I have not shared our Halloween festivities. I did in fact share them on Facebook...but not everyone dear to us is on Facebook (Hi Zoo! And Opi & Omi! And Grandma & Grandpa!), and even those on Facebook don' understand how to use it? So they only see things I tag them in (Hi too-many-parents-and-other-relatives-to-name! At least for my mom, our friend Cindy tells her what I'm doing on Facebook, so she keeps up!)

So...for the facebook challenged... Here is our Halloween Hoopla!

First of all... While I LOVE fall, I'm not really a fan of lots of aspects of Halloween. We love dressing up and trick-or-treating (or going to our church's Halloween party), but I don't let the kids dress up as anything gross, evil, or scary. I do however, like to do LOTS of things leading up to Halloween, so the kids get opportunities to wear their costumes and enjoy more than just one night. We usually do a pumpkin patch (not in costume), and Boo at the Zoo. This year we didn't do anything other than the fall/pumpkin related things at the apple orchard, and I'm paying the price. If you ask Micah how he liked Halloween, he says, "I GO AGAIN!?!" And Tobin would NOT stop talking about how he was so sad that Halloween was only one day. It does help that we got some good deals on costumes at the after-Halloween sale, so they have dressed up every day this week. BUT next year, I want to do at least one other costume activity ahead of time... My vote is for what my neighbor did this year, Boo at the U: Halloween with the University Equestrian Club. The horses were in costume. How awesome is that??

We did take the time Monday night to carve pumpkins, which the boys LOVED.

Last year: Meeting in Uganda. This year, carving pumpkins together!
I wasn't sure how this would go over, since when I came home with the pumpkins, Tobin claimed his and insisted that we would NOT be cutting "her" open. Oh dear. But when the time came, he was pretty happy to give her a scary face.

 Luke did a great job with his giant pumpkin, and Matt did Micah's. I drew Tobin's face, but he wanted to cut most of it out himself. He did over-cut a few times, but I think it came out super cute. And there weren't even any tears when we needed to throw the pumpkin babies out. My tender hearted one is growing up!

So once Halloween rolled around, we got our traditional jack-o-lantern pizza from Papa Murphy's (a DEAL at $8, it's take and bake, so you can pick it up earlier in the day and have it ready when you want it.)

Then the little boys got suited up, while Matt drove Luke to the middle school skate party. We had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle....
 And a cowboy on a horse. If you're keeping track, this is not the first time you've seen this costume. Or the second. I have gotten more mileage out of this after-Halloween-sale purchase from 4 years ago....

 I would have shelled out for a new costume for Micah's first Halloween...But little bit is OBSESSED with horses, "My Horsey Favorite." He was THRILLED, nothing I bought new would have made him this happy.

It was lovely weather, and we went trick-or-treating with our fun neighbors. Good times.

Laying in the loot!

Meanwhile, Luke was skating with the middle school group from church. He didn't want to get a costume (I think he'll want to next year...he doesn't like depending on the sharing kindness of others, as far as candy goes.) But when the night rolled around, he decided to dress up. Tobin followed him around asking, "What are you supposed to BE?"
 Afro-Circus Mardi Gras Fairy?

Happy Fall, y'all!