Saturday, December 31, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Well, if I could blame this past weekend on a man in a red suit with a long white beard, I would say that I must have made Santa's naughty list bigtime. Fortunately, I know that all events are orchestrated for a higher purpose...to sanctify me and glorify God in heaven. So here's a recap:
Christmas Eve was a blessing. We spent it with some friends from Bible Study. The kids were amazingly well-behaved which was an answer to some desperate prayers from this worn out mom. We had a great lunch, watched a movie, played with friends, and did a gift exchange.
Christmas Eve night, my internet went out while skyping with Darren and the Edwards family back home. Bummer. Christmas Eve our neighbors behind us had some kind of shin-dig complete with fireworks and very loud music. Great. Went on until midnight. Christmas morning my internet was still not back. The kids opened their presents and we started to clean the house for lunch. I was supposed to be having very important last minute guests who flaked an hour after they were supposed to be here. I had spent Christmas Eve working it out with a friend to have enough food as having guests was a pretty last minute decision. She gave me a chicken from her freezer so that I would have enough meat...only to realize the next day that I had prepared WAY too much food for myself and 2 toddlers. However, I decided that we would have a joyful day celebrating in the Savior's birth anyway. It was very hot and didn't feel like Christmas. I read a book while the kids played outside for a good part of the day.
So when Darren was awake and opening his Christmas gifts (5 p.m. my time) I missed his first call and when we could finally talk my phone kept cutting out. The kids suddenly started misbehaving and after wanting to cry all day I finally did. I just kept wondering "why?" I know my life could be SO. MUCH. HARDER. But I couldn't understand why after everything else that seems to be going wrong God would take away my "lifelines" back home. The things that help me retain my sanity over here...on CHRISTMAS!!! Then as if smacking me in the face it was like He was saying, "So that I can be your lifeline!" Commence breakdown and intense time of prayer.
So Monday we went out to the orphanage. Monday was FILLED to the brim with it's challenges as well. Finally, Monday night I was able to get some good sleep. By Tuesday morning my skype was back but my web pages weren't loading. Finally last night, my internet was back completely and I felt so blessed to see all the sweet e-mails and messages waiting for me. It felt like being underwater and then coming up for that awesome breath of air. Most of all, it was nice to talk to my husband via skype again. Have I told you that I miss him?
We had friends over for pizza and swimming yesterday. Again, it was super refreshing just to have some company and kids for my kids to play with.
I have really mixed emotions about this Christmas. I relished in the simplicity of it. The rampant idea of American consumerism that permeates our lives back home can really cloud the true joys of Christmas. I was able to see and experience those deeper joys even though I had a hard time. It is sooooo hard to find that balance, though. Where is the line between enjoying the gifts God has blessed us with and giving our "children good gifts" in reflection of our father in heaven VS. teaching our children that Christmas is about what we get and buying people things they don't need just to keep up?
I used to think that the only people who would question a good, typical, American Christmas were the same people that only wear ankle length dresses and no make up and believe that TV's were invented in hell. I always figured those people drew some kind of strange happiness from giving up being normal and appearing better than the rest of us.
I have to say, though, that my heart has undergone some radical changes in how I view Christmas. I'm not saying I've got it figured out and I certainly would not try to tell anyone else how to run their Christmas festivities, but ya'll there are people around the world in actual REAL need. Don't you think it's a little wrong that people have been TRAMPLED to death fighting to shop for Christmas gifts they and the ricipients don't need? I'm not saying I'm giving up Christmas traditions or gifts or any of the things that I actually MISSED not having this Christmas. I'm just saying...look around. Don't you think we just get a bit silly sometimes? We tend to drive ourselves crazy spending money on gifts we had to rack our brains over because we can't really think of anything that person "needs" right now, rushing from this party to that party, buying clothes to wear to the parties, taking our kids here there and everywhere so they don't "miss" out on anything only to breathe a sigh of relief and say "Whoa...I'm glad December's over. Now I need to go on a diet because I ate too much." And I've talked to so many people with "Christmas guilt". They want to do things differently, but it's hard to break the patterns you were raised in (plus what would our families think if we put a limit on incoming gifts to our kids. Would they think we are ungrateful?) and so they just keep doing what they've always done and the season keeps them so busy it's hard to focus on what's important. I also think it's possible to be "too hard" on yourself or other people. As Americans, there are so many ways we are all greedy consumers from time to time. I believe in enjoying our blessings from heaven and I also believe that we should be teaching our children life values (the Christmas stories, sharing with others, not loving money) all 12 months of the year so if we're weak in this month of the year, we should look to Christ for strength and guidance and not become consumed with guilt. I think our decisions about how we spend, give, or save should be made with passion AND humility. I just think we all need to evaluate WHY we do what we do in light of the Bible and pray for peace in our decisions.
I haven't all the way decided in what ways I'd like our Christmas holiday season to look different next year, but I will definately be praying and discussing with Darren about ways to glorify God more in the way we celebrate. I want my children to see the "giving" part of Christmas first in terms of God's gift to us in his Son, secondly in our gifts to the world (sharing the Gospel, tangible acts of kindness and monetary giving), thirdly, giving gifts to our loved ones, and LASTLY our giving of gifts to them. I don't want them to have "my toys" centered Christmases. Do you guys have any suggestions on how to simplify and most of all how to serve God and others during this time?
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Had some dear moms over for a pizza/swim party on Tuesday. It was a blessing to have some adult conversation while our kids played together. I felt recharged!
I'm so thankful for the internet! We've been able to even video skype a few times with friends and family. Evolet loves to skype with Darren. Sometimes we can only do audio, but it's so awesome to be able to talk for "free". I really miss him. Christmas feels different over here for sure, but it's also a neat experience to know that all around the world, Christians are celebrating the birth of our savior! I'm not going to pretend that it's not hard having my family split at this time of year. I wish we could all be together, but there is joy in knowing that this is God's plan for our family this year.
I think once January gets here it will start to feel like things are coming to close. This middle part has been rough, but I can see the finish line nearing with each day. Keep praying for us!
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Sometimes there are basic communication issues with Evolet. She speaks English, but it's definately a different form of English than I'm used to. She phrases most of questions backwards and always ends with "ka?" which means like, "yes?" so she expects an affirmative for everything she says. Even if you say "yes, Evolet that's right" she'll ask like 3 more times. Plus, culturally it is kind of impolite to say "no" so she answers "yes" to every question. I'll say, "Do you know where you put your shoes?" She'll answer "yes" and just stand there. When I say "OK, then can you go get them?" She just stands there and I realize that she in fact has no idea where they are. This scenario plays out several times a day and can be quite frustrating to an American Momma expecially when Josie's trying to be heard at the same time.
I'm telling these events of the day not to make my children look bad (because they are very precious gifts from above) or to talk about how tough I have it over here. We have alot of fun together and the girls get along pretty well most of the time. I'm praising God daily that Evolet is adjusting so well...and she's very very obedient as long as she understand what's expected of her. I'm only saying this to convey that adoption has it's struggles even for those of us who would say we are having an "easier" time of it than expected by adoption standards. Parenting is tough stuff some days whether your children are adopted or not!
Wanted to mention a prayer request. A friend here contacted me yesterday about a baby who was found abandoned near a hospital. A shop owner found this newborn baby girl and took her to the hospital. They were looking for a family to take her. For many many reasons we decided we are not that family, but are praying that she will find a loving home soon. There are so many stories of children abandoned here. It breaks my heart.
Also praying for our "Keira Jane". Things continue to look positive and we are hoping to know something more by this evening. We would love this "additional addition" to our family, but we know that God is all wise and will give our family what we need. We are open and willing to take her and be her forever family, but we are satisified with the joy Evolet has brought us too.
Thank you all for your prayers and daily encouragement to me. Can't wait to be back home!
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
Today was a great day! We did a little shopping, jumped on the trampoline ALOT, swam in the pool, read a bazillion books, spent massive amounts of time on Evolet's hair (even though she doesn't have much...moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!) I have to say, even after 3 days it's looking WAY better.
So both of the girls are pretty independent...they both love hugs, but neither of them seem to be "cuddlers". Well...a thunderstorm changes that. At the first sign of lightning they fought for a space on my lap. They literally plastered themselves onto me like cling wrap. The electricity went out for a while so we sang Christmas songs to the light of a flashlight for like 30 minutes. Oh the spiritual parallels that parenting brings to mind! As we sat there I was soooo thankful for this scary situation that caused my children to run to me and find comfort and shelter. I thought, "Why can't they always be this sweet and cuddly!?" (Haven't had too much trouble out of Evolet yet, but she's human so...I'm sure it's coming) DUH...because when things are great they trust in themselves...human nature right!? Oh how I do the same things. I can't help but believe that some of the trials I have faced in Africa have been God's way of sending a little thunder and lightning my way. My insufficiencies here have illuminated sin in my heart I didn't even know was there!!! It has taught me to rely more on Christ's saving grace ALONE for every detail of life...not myself, my husband, my possessions. I've seen people here with NOTHING...they are living impoverished lives, but praising the God of heaven for all that he's done. People here also seem to think more "heavenward". Probably because life is hard and they see death more than we do.
I'm certainly going to enjoy what I'm missing back home (My house, my car, my dishwasher, eating at Chik-fil-A again, having a built in filter and ice maker, people that get to the point and know what the word "time" means), but I've seen what it's like to not have those things and I know that's not what my happiness is built on. What I miss the MOST are my husband and my church family...the relationships that edify me and build me up. The relationships I rely on for encouragement and parenting advice (ya'll have been great to keep in touch even from a distance, though. Thank You!!!!) But I know that even those things can become replacements for what's most important so in the times when I feel the storms rage in my heart, I run to Christ knowing that HE is my "strength and shield"...at least, that's what I tell myself to do. I'll just be honest, though, sometimes I decide to try to accomplish things on my own power and end up quite frustrated. Trying to "count it all joy" to face various trials. I know God's workin!
Nothing else interesting happened today...oh except a clogged pipe that made all the nasty dishwater from who knows how long spill into the entire gravel area outside my window...which Josie sat in, of course. Not a big deal...gave her a bath...got the pipe fixed. The smell eventually died down:)
Thursday, December 15, 2011
We went out for ice cream today! We walked into a shop and a woman said, "Your children are beautiful. Are they both yours?" It made me smile to say, "Yes:)"
Josie is having the expected jealousy issues that I am having to deal with. They both are going through a time of adjusting to each other and to me. As much as possible I try to forsee those cicumstances and be prepared with Biblical pearls of wisdom, but ya know sometimes life just come at you fast! Still, like 90% of the time they are playing SOOO well together...that's just more quiet than the other 10% so that part stays with you a little longer:) Since Evolet is 4 1/2, I decided she can probably forgo the naps. I just put her to bed at 7 when Josie goes down and she sleeps 12 hours. This way, I can have some one-on-one time with her while Josie's napping and that cuts out some of the jealousy. It's a balancing act to reassure Josie that she is loved and adored while assuring Evolet that she has found a family who will love her as much as we love Josie.
Evolet is obviously very used to sleeping around alot of noise. She fell asleep last night with a movie playing and me jerking the braids out of her hair. Tonight she slept through Josie standing on her bed saying "Hey Evolet!" Nighttime rocks!
We made Christmas cookies today. Evolet was excited when we decorated the airplane. I said, "Daddy would like this one." She replied, "I want to decorate this one for Daddy." I showed her pictures of Grandpa and Grandma, more pictures of our house, and some friends back home. I don't want to overwhelm her, but she seems interested to learn about what her new life will be like.
We've been singing Christmas songs and both of my little girls love to dance like silly things to some music:) Last night I lay in bed for a while just thanking the Lord for His goodness and it hit me that I have a 4 1/2 year old. She was born in June 2007. I don't even know what I was doing back then, but ya'll I was 20!!! I was thinking "wow. Josie isn't even 2 yet. I can't imagine if she went to an orphanage tomorrow and learned their routines and then went to live with a new family 2 years after that!" It is truly just God's graciousnss to us that Evolet seems to be adjusting miraculously well. Based on human wisdom, it probably should not be going so well...and as I said, I'm sure there are struggles in the future yet to come, but Praise God for His goodness to me now. I know we have many friends and family members who have been lifting us up in prayer. Thank you...and keep doing it! Pray that we can go home soon. I'm ready to see my husband again:)
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Got the call from my attorney this morning that the committal order was ready to pick up around 10 a.m. Every day for the last like two weeks I've kept the house really clean "just in case" it was that day she came home. Today of course, the house was a mess so I figured that was a good sign:) Even though I've been preparing for this day for like a month, hearing my attorney say "Can you be here in 30 minutes?" made my head spin as I tried to gather the things I needed and pick up toys really fast KNOWING that Evolet was coming home today!
So we got the committal order and took it straight to the orphanage. I brought a change of clothes for Evolet since the clothes she was wearing belong to the orphanage. We chatted with all the kids for a while and made plans to go back to visit on Sunday. Evolet was all smiles!!! Here's a photo of her on the car ride home:
So we got home, had some lunch, put Josie down for a nap. Then Evolet and I watched VeggieTales while I spent 2 hours undoing her braids and I STILL only got half of them done. I want to just leave her hair natural for a little bit...play with it and see what it does.
So when Josie got up, they jumped on the trampoline. Evolet let out the most precious giggle. The trampoline is definately a big hit!!! She also can't wait to go swimming. She's been asking when we are going to fly in an airplane. She and Josie had their first, second, and third fight of sisterhood and parenting has taken on a completely new dimension for me...the peacemaker. I totally have expected this and have prepared by asking lots of questions to parents of mutliples. Game on!
This is going to sound silly because I know there's still SOOOO much adjusting to do, but honestly today felt like a pretty normal day. Evolet just jumped into our "normal" routine of life here pretty well. She was helping me with dishes, calling me "mommy", cuddling with me while we watched TV. She tries to keep Josie out of trouble (good luck:) It's like she really really belongs with us. Praising God for his all-knowing ways. I know there are struggles ahead, but right now I'm enjoying the perfection of it all.
She was excited to skype with Darren. When our internet connection got so bad that it disconnected, she said, "Hey. Put Daddy's face back up!" I know they'll have alot of catching up to do, but Praise God for skype. At least she has a visible live connection with him this way.
Once I finished on her hair (a total of 4 hours and she fell asleep while I was finishing it) she took a bath and went to bed. I hope she doesn't freak out in the morning and she remembers where she is! Maybe she'll also remember that I promised her ice cream tomorrow.:)
We appreciate your prayers on our behalf in our saga of beginning the foster process with Evolet. Please continue in prayer for the 3 year old we are still hoping to adopt. And pray as there is still much paperwork, court date, embassy...more hoops to jump through before returning home. I do feel like the process may be a bit more bearable now, though. Happy 2nd Day of Christmas:)
Friday, December 9, 2011
We went to the orphanage to see Evolet yesterday. It was a joy to see it, and it was so very hard to leave her there again. She asked me, "When are you coming back to take me with you?" I tried not make any promises about Monday since it's obviously not in my power to do so, but assured her that I would be back Monday and hopefully she could come home then. She seems very excited:)
This hilarious conversation was one of the highlights. Keep in mind that the locals here tend to reverse their "L"s and "R"s. So one of the Auntie's at the orphanage asked, "What name are you going to give Hope?" I replied, "Evolet Hope". She said, "Oh nice. Hope, can you say Everett?" I quickly tried to correct and said, "No, not Everett. Ev-o-let." She said, "Yeah. Ev-ER-ett." So then of course Evolet was saying "Everett". I decided that I could work on pronunciation more when she gets home.
So what I had thought would be a busy weekend getting to know my new daughter is now going to probably feel like a very slow weekend. It's been raining all night and all morning so...that may mean Josie and I stay inside most of the day. I have tried to look at this as one last weekend with just me and Josie. I know it will be hard to balance getting to know Evolet and making her feel special while at the same time letting Josie know that she is still very loved and special too. Hopefully we can have some fun "Josie/Mommy" time. On Sunday mornings she helps me make pancakes. That's always fun:)
I can't even explain how painful Darren's absence has been. I mean, I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I didn't think it would be this hard either. After all, I'm a pilot's wife and I'm used to being away from him for SHORT periods of time. Lately my pitiful self spends the evenings watching sappy movies and weeping at the sound of Christmas music wishing we could be together. I really really miss that man.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
I know the picture above has nothing to do with the title of the post, but seeing as how I can't post my Evolet photos yet, this is my outlet for cute Josie pics:)
So far we have had a great and eventful week! Yesterday we were able to tell Evolet that we are adopting her. She was very shocked and didn’t say much. She seemed kind of overwhelmed. I told her I would come back today and talk to her about it some more.
Today was the only day I could get my visa renewed for another 30 days so I got a babysitter for Josie and planned to run some other errands and spend some one on one time with Evolet. When I went today, Evolet ran to me and gave a big hug. She let me hold her as I read the kids some books to calm them all down some. I gave her a zebra pillow pet to cuddle with and a 4x6 photo of Darren, Josie, and I. She never let go of the zebra OR the photo. She was very excited. She even called me “Mommy” and held my hand. I asked the Auntie what size shoe she thought Evolet wore. She said, “Why don’t you take me and her to the store with you and she can try on some shoes!!!” So we all went shopping and had the best time. I bought Evolet some CUTE silver dressy shoes to match her Christmas dress. She really liked them. She told me that purple is her favorite color, but she likes other colors too:)
Since it is Tuesday, we went to the Pizza Inn and got buy one get one free pizzas with Grape Fanta. Evolet said she loves pizza so I think we’ll get along fine:)
I spoke with social welfare today. Our social woker is going to the police station tomorrow to get a copy of the report she needs. From what I understand, she then writes a letter of discharge that I can take to the orphanage to pick her up while the attorney files for the committal order. That’s how I understand it anyway. So it’s very possible that I could get the call tomorrow to go and get her. If not then maybe Thursday.
I’m very excited. Evolet seems excited and Josie…doesn’t really understand what’s going on but is happy when I tell her she’ll have someone to play with for the rest of her life.
There's even a small glimmer of hope that our "Keira Jane" may come back into the picture. That's a SMALL glimmer of hope and I won't elaborate, but you can pray for that situation.
Thank you all for your prayers. They are greatly appreciated!!! I have definately felt that friends across the world have been "weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice."
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
I don't know where she gets that crazy streak...:)
So next week I have to renew my visa which means I will have been here a month. Crazy, huh? In some ways it feels like it has flown by and in some ways I feel like I've been here so long I don't even realize we're driving on the wrong side of the road anymore.
AND next week I am supposed to be able to bring Evolet and Keira to come live with me!!!! I'm so excited. I don't know which day yet. I'm praying it will be the earlier part of the week, but who knows. All I know is that the social worker told me next week. So I'm praising God for that. The courts will recess from mid-December until January. My attorney will be on vacation, but as long as the girls are here by then I don't care.
Josie has fully recovered from her nasty fall and she and I both are almost over our colds. I'm staying busy reading a good book and dreaming about spending Christmas with our girls. I miss Darren like crazy. I really really wish we could be together for the holidays, but I know this is worth it and we will both be overjoyed to be reunited as a family in a couple of months. He loves these girls as much as I do and I know he misses them. MAYBE...next week I can send out photos of them in our house here. Wouldn't that be cool:)