Saturday, July 25, 2009

Goodbye, Michigan

Nearly eight months after we first arrived in Michigan, the time has come to say goodbye. When we first arrived, on Thanksgiving day last November, we had no idea how long we would be staying. Our lives were in flux; so much depended on when we would find an overseeing church. As the weeks stretched into months, sometimes the wait seemed interminable. Now, looking back, eight months really doesn't seem that long at all, and in many ways, it has just flown by. We are headed now to Nashville to be with our supporting church for a few months before we go off to Portugal for some intensive language study.

So, thank you, Michigan, for allowing us to be residents of your fine state for the past few months. We have enjoyed your winter snows, your gorgeous spring days, and we are loving your mild summer weather. We think your DMV should give lessons on efficiency to the other 49 states in the union. And we now think we finally understand the "Michigan left."

Thank you to all the churches in the Detroit area who invited us to come and do our Angola presentation. A special thank you to all those who contributed to our one-time expense fund. We know that the ecomony is especially dismal in Michigan these days, and so we are touched by your generosity, even as many of you face hard times.

Thank you to our Livonia church family, for welcoming us to your midst with open arms. Thank you for praying for us and encouraging us and inviting us to your home groups and being interested in our dreams for Angola. Thank you for allowing us to participate in as many church activities as our time and travel schedule allowed. A special thank you to all of Alex' amazing teachers -- he loved to go to Bible Class! And to Beth and Shannon for all the playdates -- it meant so much to Alex to have some social interaction. To those of you who have recently expressed a desire to be regular monthly contributors to our work -- thank you! Each pledge takes us closer to our goal and closer to Angola.

Thank you to "Dr. Kelly" and her staff for taking such good care of me during my pregnancy. Thank you for your willingness to accommodate my wishes for a natural birth and for assuaging my fears that my second labor would last as long as my first! Thank you for knowing when to tell me to rest and take it easy. I am only sorry that you weren't the one to deliver Stephen since everything happened so fast! Thank you to the nurses and the staff at the Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield for an incredible natural hospital birth. (I wish I could have all my future children at this luxurious hospital.)

Finally, to my parents... there really are no words to express our gratefulness for all the ways you have blessed our lives these past months. Thank you for allowing us to call your home our home for an indefinite length of time. It has been such a place of peace for us, a true haven while everything else in life has been in limbo. Thank you for continuing to allow us to use your basement as a second storage unit for the next several weeks. Thank you for putting up with our messes, with a pregnant woman, with a new baby, and with a (sometimes) cranky and defiant 3-year old. Thank you for all the delicious food and good conversations. Thank you for the free baby-sitting while Rusty and I went to our Bradley classes or just enjoyed a night out. Thank you for all the trips to Greenfield Village and the zoo, and for all the special memories you made with Alex. Thank you for sharing in several special events for our family over the past few months -- birthdays, our 10th anniversary, Rusty's HUGSR graduation. Thank you, most of all, for your prayers and encouragement as we waited on God's timing.

I can think of no place I would rather have been for the past eight months, than right where God put us -- in Livonia, MI. Although I am eager to move on, to be one step closer to permanency, I will always treasure the memories of these past months, and the extended time we were able to spend with my parents.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


...we managed to get a halfway decent picture of the four of us. It will do until we can get to a studio for a professional portrait, probably sometime this fall. This was taken last Sunday. We are wearing our matching Angolan outfits. A seamstress in Angola made Rusty's shirt for him while we were there last summer. She had some fabric left over, so she gave it to me, and I made a wrap skirt for myself -- you can barely see it in the picture. The shirts the boys are wearing, I made with some of the leftover scraps of fabric. (Thanks to my crafty teammate, Teague, for the idea!)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Life at Three Months

Stephen was three months old on July 6th. He is continuing to gain weight and develop fat rolls, and is now wearing 3-6 month size clothes. Thumb-sucking is definitely his thing; he is very good at self-soothing with it. He is sleeping on a more regular schedule now -- short morning nap, long afternoon nap, and usually 10-11 hours at night, waking up just once for a feeding. I'm not sure how long his good sleep patterns will last with all of the traveling we are going to be doing the next couple of months, so I am trying to enjoy it while it lasts. When he is awake, he smiles and coos and bats at the toys on the arches of his playmat. He is such a good baby that I think he may be in danger of being ignored because he is just so content all the time!

With the warm summer weather, we have been taking Stephen outside more. He likes to lay on a blanket on the grass and watch the trees and the sky, or sit in his bouncy seat and watch Alex play in the yard. If we go on walks, he usually rides in the sling. Speaking of my hotsling, I love it! Stephen enjoys it, too, and every time we are out and about in it, I always get lots of comments on it. When I wore him in it at the zoo, I started to feel like we were one of the exhibits because of all the people (mostly children) who were pointing and staring. One lady even asked if she could take my picture!

Stephen can also sit up as long as he is well-supported, so he has been able to start joining in story-time with Alex, which is fun. The two of them are so precious together. Alex will sing to Stephen or "help" him play with the toys on his playmat, and Stephen just watches him so intently and sometimes breaks out into the biggest grin. I'm looking forward to watching their relationship develop over the months and years to come.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Our Growing Team

Nathan Holland, the Reeses, Jordan Yarbrough, the Campbells, the Meyers

This is our most recent team photo, taken at last month's team meeting in Little Rock. Since our last team photo, taken in June, 2008, we have added two children, with two more on the way (the Meyers are in the process of adopting siblings from Ethiopia).

We always enjoy spending time with our teammates. We have continued trying to meet monthly, although that has become a bit more challenging now that we are all much more spread out geographically. Despite the long drive (our meetings have been in Little Rock the last few times), we look forward to our time together. And, just in case you were wondering what it is that we do at these meetings, here is a list of the items on last month's agenda:
  • personal / family updates, fundraising progress
  • discussion on the possibility of our team getting some formal training in rational thinking and decision making
  • recap and process some of the strategy discussion begun at May's meeting
  • discussion on homeschooling options
  • discussion on a team coach / mentor
  • discussion on team roles
  • timeline (scheduling, future meetings, moving to Portugal, etc.)
  • continuation of our doctrine discussion begun at a previous meeting
There was time for fun as well. We had a cookout at the park one evening and the guys played a round of disc golf. We played games one night. And we had lots of yummy food -- there are several good cooks on this team, and we all like to eat!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Torch Lake

I'm finally getting around to posting some pictures of our family vacation to Torch Lake. Sadly, I don't have as many pictures as I should, because, after we had been there for over a week, Rusty accidentally reformatted the card in the digital camera. (And just in case you didn't know, when you do that, you permanently erase all data on the card.) So the pictures below were taken in our last three days there, as we tried to think of and recreate all the photo ops.

Aside from the camera catastrophe, we really had a wonderful time at the lake. We are so thankful to our friends Bob and Teri for allowing us to spend almost two weeks at their little lakeside cabin. It was a time of rest and relaxation, reconnecting and refocusing. The weather was mostly cool, but we had a few gorgeous days of warm sunshine toward the end of our stay. Rusty and Alex went fishing and kayaking several times. They tried to go swimming once, but the water was still pretty cold, so Alex didn't even last five minutes before he was ready to get out. After that, he was content to just sit on the beach and throw rocks in the water or dangle his feet off the end of the dock. We had a fire in the firepit two different nights and roasted marshmallows and made s'mores while enjoying the stunning sunsets.

We had some rainy, windy days too. On those days, we stayed indoors and played games, read, watched movies, or scrapbooked. We taught Alex how to play Uno Jr., Yahtzee Jr., and Candyland. He is really enjoying games right now, and (so far) is a very good sport, not seeming to care whether he wins or loses. Rusty and I watched the entire first season of "24" in the time we were there, and we both made good progress on our scrapbooks. Rusty and Alex slept up in the loft two different nights, which Alex thought was great fun. (I'm not sure Rusty slept that well, though!) We had lots of yummy food, including some of our favorite ethnic dishes (Thai curry, Japanese curry, okunomiyaki, and temakizushi). Alex helped me make pizza one night, and we made chocolate chip cookies for Daddy. I tried a new recipe for cinnamon rolls which was awesome!

We also went on a couple of "outings." One day, we drove up to the town of Charlevoix and found a nice beach with a playground where we had a picnic lunch. Another day, we went into Central Lake for an antique car show. But mostly, we just stayed around the cabin and enjoyed being together and God's beautiful creation. It was exactly what we needed before facing the next several months, which promise to be very very busy!

Our little fisherman with his catch


Sweet Stephen

A beautiful sunset

Snuggly baby

Giraffe tongue!

Just kickin' it

Row, row, row your boat...