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We are a family of fifteen: eight already with Jesus and seven in desperate need of Him. This is the story God is writing in our lives. Proverbs 16:9

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore,
for the former things have passed away.
Revelation 21:4

This is the thought that allows a respite from the pain of these last few days. First, this is where our babies live. They have never known the pain our family has experienced and they never will. They were created only to know a life beyond the confines our of sinful, human history and know God in His perfection throughout eternity. It is a beautiful thought. It is also the hope that moves us- especially me- through grieving and not be driven to despair. Our grieving is only temporary. Broken hearts, even ones this side of eternity, are the specialty of our Savior. He came to heal them. Until our complete healing, He weeps with us, just as He did with Mary and Martha.

I read a long time ago- and it stuck- to press into pain. It is a part of our created life experience to mourn. All the physical and emotional responses are built into us. It is defensiveness that causes us to run from feeling pain... to distract ourselves... to cover over it with something else. But pain is a good thing. It is in pain that many times I have an intimate knowledge of my need for redemption. Don't get me wrong, I have spent sufficient time trying make sure that God knows that I thought I was signing up for that other line... you know... the one where people adopt and get to hold their children this side of eternity. I have even used the word "crap" a couple of times!!! But when Micah and I made this choice to be obedient to the calling of adopting these embryos, we became willing participants no matter what. Even if the path is pain. We would have preferred a different outcome. It is much more fun to hear "Congratulations!" instead of "so sorry". But God heals us and God moves us. I have said it before and I will say it again; He brought us to this road, He loves us, and He is good.

Micah reminded me of this passage in Lamentations that relates pain and hope. It is now hanging over my sink in the kitchen.

Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

I certainly do not know what beauty He may create from these ashes but indeed, His salvation is sure.

It feels a little crazy to go ahead and talk about doing all of this again, but we still have two embryos that need a chance at life. Again, a humbling, terrifying thought. Since I am called to obey and not fear, all I can do is plead, "Lord I believe, help my unbelief." We only have a couple of weeks until we start the whole process again. Prayers from friends and family have been priceless. I have no doubt that my weary soul has leaned on the prayers of others this past week. We all still need them, maybe now more than ever.

The boys have been dealing with things in their own way. It is inspiring to see their childlike faith. They have been entrusting these babies to the Lord in their prayers. They made plans for them. They valued their lives. They are disappointed, but they easily trust their siblings are in Good Hands. I have wondered how God is going to use this experience in their lives in the future. That remains to be seen. Micah and I are so blessed to share our lives with Andrew and Elijah. I learn so much from them.

Christmas was weighty. The day itself was relaxing. It is fun for our kiddos to get new toys for Micah and I to play with:) One of my favorite moments was when Elijah opened his new Razor scooter and yelled "I can't ride a scooter!" and began crying! Only a few minutes later, he was scooting all over our apartment. Andrew has been teaching me about his new "DS System". You would think that he was born with a knowledge of all things electronic! They learned a new Christmas song this year called Joy complements of Seeds Family Worship. They led Micah and me in worshiping as they sang throughout the day.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year- to all those walking with us.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We Say Goodbye For Now

Our little ones are no longer with us, but are safe in the arms of the Father. I can only imagine their little faces- eyes opening for the first time to see the face of Jesus- being surrounded by everlasting, perfect love. We grieve, but not as those who have no hope. We look forward to knowing them throughout eternity. We sure are going to miss them until then. It has been such a privilege carrying them, even for such a short time.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Frozen No More

The good thing about being on bed rest for three days as a page of life turns, is that one can truly experience said turning. Usually as something remarkable or momentous happens, life is so busy at the time, I struggle to remind myself afterward of what that time was like. It was indeed the pinnacle of an adoption journey that started long ago. It felt very maternal though, being still, protecting my little ones. Micah and I were more devoted in those days to constantly entrust these little souls to God as we cared for the vessel that now carries them. The boys had a blast at friends houses for a couple of days so they were sufficiently loved on. Strange time though. Still kind of science-experimentalish. But no less miraculous and incredible- the journey of our little embryos from a lab to five days old, to a freezer for one year, back to a lab, and finally into a happy home. Since then, I have been walking around with them all the time! There have been moments I have been out running errands and wanted to just tell the gal at the checkout or our waitress or the vendor at the mall that I have two of my adopted children with me... just to see what they'd say~ Of course the question of whether they are with us or are we carrying them straight to the Father has been on my mind. We find out next week the answer to that question. Pray for us- that we are ready for the answer. It is easier to take one day at a time and one truth at a time.

In the meantime, it is already Christmas at our house. After Thanksgiving, the boys found one of their Christmas gifts. They had been playing in the back of our apartment. After a quiet pause (which always means they are up to something:)), Andrew came racing down the hallway screaming, "Papa and Mimi left something at our house! I think it is a Nerf gun!". "It's a CX-35!!!" Elijah added. I, always vowing to be honest with my children, explained, "That must be for Matt and Chelsea for Christmas!". I even tried to employ my mom (evil loves company!) in convincing them that this was true, but needless to say after a couple of days, the lie had to be put to rest. They are pretty smart boys.
What a nice time of year to be thinking about babies. We love Christmas; when we remember the One Baby who came to rescue us. We were like our little embryos, and now we are a part of His family. There is no greater love than this or hope for frozen hearts~

Friday, December 10, 2010

Transfer Complete!

First of all, we have had so many people praying for us... and it was so clear. This morning was peaceful and went as well as it could have. Both embryos survived the thawing process and were in great shape. The Embryologist showed us where the cells have organized to one side to form the fetus and the area for the placenta on the other. We were thrilled! The whole transfer process took 10 minutes. Again, the staff at our clinic exceeded our expectations of showing dignity and respect for life. Even the nurse said she'd be praying for us and the babies when we left. God has been so abundantly gracious. It was so humbling and miraculously amazing to walk out of the clinic knowing there are now two little ones in my belly.

The proud parents

Our precious, little ones.

These are some of the words I have held on to today and know I will continue to throughout the next two weeks while we wait to go back to the doctor. They are again from The Valley of Vision; "God the All".

I am well pleased with Thy will, whatever it is,
or should be in all respects,
And if Thou bidst me decide for myself in any affair
I would choose to refer all to Thee,
for Thou art infinitely wise and cannot do amiss
as I am in danger of doing.
I rejoice to think that all things are at Thy disposal,
and it delights me to leave them there.
Then prayer turns to wholly praise,
and all I can do is to adore and bless Thee.

I can of myself do nothing to glorify Thy blessed name,
but I can through grace cheerfully surrender soul and body to Thee.

Monday, December 06, 2010

We Have a Date!

Today, Micah and I learned that all those hormones and medications I have been pumping into my body have made a happy home for our embryos. It was glorious news that all can proceed as planned. We are scheduled for their transfer on the morning of Friday, Dec. 10th!

The past couple of weeks, I have felt carried along. The best way I can describe it is like I have been in a vessel of grace on a turbulent sea. Dealing with all my emotions and fears has tried my perseverance and tested my faith. I am not under the delusion that I do anything apart from God, "for in Him we live and move and have our being" ~Acts 17:28. But there are some sacred experiences that clearly leave me on my knees at the throne, pleading nothing but the mercy of my Father. Thinking about what my family has been called to in this embryo adoption has been one of those things. Knowing that Christ has had perfect faith when I have been afraid and continues to do so now on my behalf has given me rest in my restlessness and in turn, all I have needed to continue on. Prayer is a gift and has been my only offense for preparedness. God listens to my pleas for His breath of life for our embryos, Christ intercedes on my behalf, and once again, my soul hears, Trust me; I have brought you here; I love you.

One other gift has been listening to an album I had downloaded from Christine Dente called Voyage. From that, I was directed toward this reading from The Valley of Vision; A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions called "God All-Sufficient":

O Lord of Grace,
The world is before me this day,
and I am weak and fearful,
but I look to Thee for strength;
If I venture forth alone I stumble and fall,
but on the Beloved's arms I am firm as the eternal hills.

It goes on toward the end to list how our deficits are met with all the lovely attributes found in Jesus. I have needed prayers like this one as well as the others found in the book. They have served as summary statements: theologically thick, yet simple phrases that I can easily hold on to as I move through the day that remind me of the scriptures they describe.

So, we are moving through the week, waiting for the big day~ When we meet (in a petri-dish) our tiny ones and introduce them to their home. As if we don't have enough going on, Micah and I are also starting a marriage enrichment program called "Micah has to start giving me intramuscular injections every day"! I know Nurse Micah would appreciate your prayers (and Me too!) for steady hands.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

These are some things that made Thanksgiving Great-

~Handling a great big bird, putting him (or her... not sure) in the oven, and waiting on that highly-technologically-advanced pop-out timer to "pop"!~

~Sweet Potato Casserole and Pie Baking~

~People we love sleeping in every corner of the house~

~Watching Elijah sneak dog treats (and probably other things) to Toby every chance he'd get~

~The first viewing of Christmas movies of the year~

~The Andrew and Elijah Thanksgiving Show- where the boys dress up as Star Wars characters and reenact scenes from the movies (complete with commercial breaks)~

~A new Chick-fil-a team pulling together to serve the masses under the management of a great boss (way to go, Micah!)~

~Taking pictures in the non-functioning mall photo booth with my camera~

~Sending the boys on a scavenger hunt to find Elijah's new piggy bank... followed by watching the boys do subsequent scavenger hunts for various objects with clues like this one written by Andrew: "I saw something with my eyes. It was mysterious with my eyes; I looked at something in my room, so if you just look under something then you will find this treasure. It may be gold, but probably not. You'll find out!"~

~People climbing over each other at 4 a.m. at Target to get the best deal on flat screen TV's and Puffer Vests?!?!?!~

My family came to share Thanksgiving with us this year. There were many memorable moments, but the one I may remember the most is the Target experience. I usually stay away from shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving, however this year, there were some really good deals all at the same store that I just couldn't pass up. So my Dad and I got up before 3 a.m. and went to Target. I loved trying to find out who else was crazy enough to stand in line for an hour in the freezing temperatures. I also wanted to make clear to everyone within earshot that if they wanted something bad enough to run over me trying to race into the store, I would gladly let them pass. There was a lady and her daughter behind me that had been shopping all night. She let me know about all the good deals in the surrounding stores but would never tell me what she was after at Target! I guess I looked threatening enough that she wasn't going to take any chances that I may go for anything on her list! Another of our line neighbors was a guy who was shopping for his niece and nephew. He looked through the newspaper ad about six times in the course of 45 minutes, making his plan. He told me about them and what they liked and disliked. He also shared that he had left all his friends at home asleep to come out by himself for them.

Finally, right on time, the doors opened and the mass exodus from the sidewalk began. By the time my Dad and I got a cart and started on our list, there were already people racing to the checkout with their items! We had used the online store map to prioritize and headed toward the things we wanted. Thankfully, most of our list included items not in high demand and we had a fairly easy experience getting those things. There was one item I hoped to pick up that was a popular. My strategy: make friends with others asking about it and try and help them if I could. I am happy to report, that it worked! I finally got a Target employee to give me the correct location of the item (after three incorrect locations) and I relayed the information to someone I had met in line. My new savvy shopping friend crawled down to the bottom shelf of the display and handed two back to me (one for me and one for another gal behind me) of the last three left. Our camera has been on its last leg for a while and I was able to get a new one for a really good deal! It was quite an adventure.

On our way to the back of the checkout line that stretched the length of the store, I saw the guy shopping for his niece and nephew. He smiled at Dad and me and held up his finds: four board games, $3.99 marked down from $9.99. What an uncle! We were so glad to get out of there, head home, and get a bit more sleep.

Micah is always good about reminding the boys that it isn't enough just to be thankful- and we have so much to be thankful for. We have to direct our thankfulness to the One who gives us all good gifts. Our best gift is Jesus, and He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him gracious give us all things? -Romans 8:32. We are blessed beyond measure~

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Moms Night Out

Sunday night, my friend Jaime and I drove to Nashville, TN to see Brooke Fraser in concert. The concert was great, but having time to talk to our hearts content was the best! We spent time at a used bookstore, had dinner at a lovely cafe in south Nashville called Fido (named after a dog because it was originally a pet shop), and then stood for two hours in line to get into the venue. You would infer that we are both truly devoted fans to camp out at the front of the line, but in reality, forgot Nashville is in the central time zone:) Jaime wasn't even really a fan! I had asked her to go with me a while back and was so glad that she was a "stay up 'till 3am to see a singer I am not really familiar with" kind of friend. I have to say, though, it was lovely seeing the lovely and talented Brooke from the third row. My favorite live song of the night had to be the title track of her album Flags. I would encourage you all to go to her website and take a listen.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

the Now and the Not Yet

And so the medication begins. After a great doctor's appointment, a crash course in giving myself injections, and training for Micah to administer some as well, I am officially under the influence of the preparatory drugs. Thankfully I have that heading to categorize the physical and emotional struggles that come along with forcing my body into being ready for our little ones. Because of the clear goal, each headache, mood swing, food aversion, or whatever else comes along is clearly in the context of a larger goal. It's "for the babies!" we all say. It is a pretty humbling and precious goal. This is not so much different than other parts of life. Each one lesson, trial, success, pain, relate to far more than those things in and of themselves. Even beyond that, each momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory (1 Cor. 4:17). How tender our Lord to guide us, not ignoring the present or the difficulty, but giving, preparing, and securing future hope.

We are all learning that keeping our eyes focused ahead strengthens our hearts and gives us the ability to do whatever today asks of us. I realize that in this blog, I am changing my pronouns at will from singular to plural which is grammatically incorrect, but this indeed is a family effort. God has grown love for our babies in different ways, but we all experience that love together. The boys sing to me every day when injection time comes "for the babies and for Mommy who has to be brave!" Today, it was a hip hop song they had heard on the Disney Channel and I will say it is easier to do anything- including give myself a shot- to a beat! Elijah gives me practice shots with his doctor kit (Sometimes, he says I need up to 15!!! So glad he is not in charge!!!). Micah serves us all with sacrificial love and devotion. He has the privilege of giving me the much larger injections in a couple of weeks. Talk about a marriage builder!!! Andrew has grown more responsible with helping mommy out in the house and catering to my needs. He also knows that if I might want a snack from the kitchen, there is probably one in it for him, too. I just have no idea where he gets his love for all things sugar from;)

Looking ahead also has kept us aware of potential outcomes. I don't particularly like to- nor think it is helpful to- focus on what might be, but a dose of reality is necessary in readying our hearts and preparing Andrew and Elijah for what might be. Micah and I continue to remind them that all the embryos might die in this process. But we pray that they all live and are committed to do everything physically possible to help them but know that ultimately, we do not decide. It is with much fear and trembling that we give these children our hearts and many parts of our lives. For me particularly, I will be giving them my body. With every new medication and doctor's appointment and side effect, I am more and more physically invested. The cost is different for our precious sons and I do not claim to know what all it entails. God is preparing them for His purposes and knows what role this experience will play in His story in each of their lives. What we do know for the babies is that these sacrifices will result in either them being born into our home, or being born into God's. Really, either outcome is good for them. Isn't that what adoption is all about in the first place? Bringing orphans into the care of a family? God knows best whether that family it ours or if He will usher them directly into His. In the meantime, we all take one day at a time; one step at a time; one truth at a time.

This post has turned into something totally different than what I first intended! Thank you for taking this journey with us. We know there is an investment for each person that knows and loves us in this as well. God uses each of you to give us encouragement and for that, we are so thankful. Hopefully, as you read where we are, you will know how to pray for us- all of us.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Moving Forward Despite Moving Backward

Last Wednesday, with one more step forward in our adopting journey, we took a couple of steps back. Amazingly, though, those two new steps were accomplished extraordinarily quickly. My caregivers found a couple of issues that needed to be dealt with surgically in order to give our little ones the best chance at life. Within five minutes, the staff, Micah, and I had a plan to proceed in the surgery the next day, Thursday. God's hand was so tenderly on us all. Micah's parents had already planned a trip to KY and all the details were taken care of within a few hours. Micah's job has been especially trying and I was wondering how he was going to be able to get away... But God sent Micah a helper who managed staffing for the whole day for him. It was incredible! So today, recovering is the goal and is happening slowly and surely.

The boys got in some fun grandparent time. I didn't take any pictures during the visit because, quite frankly, I was taking some much needed pain medicine:) While incapacitated, I had to get used to being served, which is a humbling thing for me. Andrew especially is determined to serve mommy in all the ways he can. He will ask, "Is the laundry ready for the dryer?" and every few minutes sometimes "Do you need anything now, Mom?" in his sweet, responsible, six-year-old voice. It has been an education watching he and Elijah deal with all that comes with this adoption. It is sobering and telling to hear our four-year-old announce to strangers that we have four embryos that we hope come to live with our family soon. The look on their faces is priceless! Our explanation of the adoption to the boys has been in very simple terms. They don't need much convincing that this is a good thing and a family calling. They are aware of the risks- but Micah and I pray the example we are setting is trust and obedience regardless of the outcome. I think he and I may be getting a great deal of encouragement from them as they move forward with a "whatever it takes for the babies" attitude!

So our plan remarkably has not changed. We have a schedule for the remainder of the year for our first two embryos. It is again terrifying and exciting- but we press on trusting the goodness of God who created us all for this time together.
It has been a while since I have posted pictures of the boys, so enjoy!
Handsome Boys!

Card games in the evening...

We love good deals on their favorite characters' costumes after Oct. 31!!!

When Andrew saw that I was putting new pictures on the blog, he and Elijah set this one up to add:)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Adopting Four Embryos

Same room as before… Same peace… It was like I was watching Micah and myself in some Christian/Science-Fiction Movie. We talked with the staff, who treated us in a tender way. We caught up from our last visit. With all the traveling we have done and change in direction that led us here again, that took a few minutes:) We discussed the process of embryo adoption. They were clear about how much they love having couples for chryo-preserved embryos whose families had either met their family goals or were abandoned due to a divorce. We were glad those families had chosen a chance at life for them as well. We had entered into a scientifically/medically altered universe.

First, we will have some hormone treatments followed by medical exam followed by more hormone treatments all bringing us to the point where the embryos can be implanted, two at a time. I heard all the details. They seemed bizarre and simple all at the same time. It was only a week and a half before that I sat in my bedroom floor doing online research about embryo adoption and prayed, "Lord, if this is the direction You want us to go in, You have to make it more simple than this!" That same afternoon I was informed that all we needed was an appointment to start the process.

Then, I was handed a manila folder. It was open and I started flipping through the pages… this couple, that couple, this age, that race, this occupation, that blood type. I felt overwhelmed. How do I choose? Thankfully, Micah was right next to me. I handed him the folder. He picked a paper from the stack. “This is what I think”, he said, "Four is a good number." It took me a minute to wrap my head around the choice, but I was so glad the choice was made. "They want diversity!" the Nurse Practitioner reported to the doctor. A "Transfer of Property" in the eyes of the law. Medication- check. Visit to the financial office- check. Next appointment made- check. The whole appointment took less than an hour.

In this quick time, we grew to hold these babies, like we hold our own boys, in our hearts. They won't have our DNA, but will hopefully grow in my belly and be born into our family in the same way as Andrew and Elijah. What an amazing thought. Our days are spent praying for them. Andrew asks, "Do you think they are cold, Mommy?" Right now they don't feel the cold, but we can't wait until they feel the warmth of being given a chance to live. When people ask how many children we have now, Micah is the first to answer "6- in this world".

Monday, October 25, 2010

We Grow (by God's Grace) and Our Family Grows

As many of you know, we have felt called to adopt since the beginning of our marriage. Adoption is one of the most beautiful pictures given to us by God to illustrate our relationship with Him in Christ our Redeemer, once separated from God but now called sons of the Father (Galatians 4:1-6). Little did we know that God had a very specific, personal road to walk down in pursuit obeying this calling and desire.

We have struggled with how much of this road we will share with you, but we feel peacefully led to a place of more full disclosure. It is clear to us that God has put us on this path and we want to testify to His work in our lives, so bear with us as we share a little of our journey. We have been given two precious miracles in our boys, Andrew and Elijah. The road for us to have biological children was paved with much waiting, miscarriage, and some medical intervention. While we know that God can do anything and believe that we don’t always know what is around the corner, the door has seemed to close for us to have more biological children despite the same treatments since the birth of Elijah. Honestly, we have wrestled with this, but knew God was writing… He has the pen. He knows our hearts and has heard every prayer. He has provided more for us than we deserve, and does all things for His glory and for our good out of love for us. We always were clear in our personal convictions regarding fertility treatments. They are very expensive and we always agreed that if we felt that God might expand our family more, instead of putting money toward more treatments we would use the money for adoption.

In the past few months, adoption has moved up on our priority list. We have had peace in waiting patiently this past year as we moved all over the country with Chick-fil-a but are now in a position where we can focus our attention on praying for what our part would be in caring for orphans. There are many different ways to adopt and so many orphans, it can be overwhelming discerning which direction to go. We first felt led to adopt from Ebenezer’s Children’s Home in Wilkesboro, NC. This seemed to be feasible until we found out we would be back in Louisville, 8 hours away. When that option seemed to be out of the question, we prayed about where to turn next.

Several years ago, we had been introduced to embryo adoption by a pamphlet in a doctor’s office and then later through an adoption informational luncheon at our church. When we first heard about it, it seemed interesting but probably not for us. Honestly, my first thought was, “Why would couples adopt embryos when there are so many children that need families all over the world?” When I would bring up the question with friends, about half of the time, that was the same response. Why do this?

Slowly and gently, the Lord starting giving us clarity in how to think of these “snowflake” babies. As a result of the number of couples seeking to have biological children through In Vitro Fertilization, there are currently more than 400,000 (possibly more than 500,000) chryo-preserved embryos in the US. Many of the couples who had these babies “created” in a lab have met their “family goals” and have no further use for the embryos. If we believe what we say we believe, that all humans are bearers of the image of God from conception, then these little chryo-preserved babies are little frozen orphans. They have no breath yet; no voice for themselves. Many (and we daresay most) of these embryos will never get a chance at life. After varying amounts of storage time, couples are given choices as to how they are to be used- or disposed of. There are some couples who donate their embryos for stem cell extraction and research and others that allow their embryos -their babies- to be destroyed. However, there are couples who donate their embryos for other couples to “adopt”. Of course our government doesn’t see this as true adoption, because that would be calling an embryo a human life.

Because of all our struggles with infertility, we are perfect candidates for embryo adoption. Couples who are not diagnosed as infertile (or in our case, with secondary infertility) are many times not even considered as candidates from embryo adoption. That makes the opportunity for those able to adopt embryos more scarce. There are Christian adoption agencies that handle matching embryo donors with adopting families, but in our case with Tiffany’s medical history, we are adopting directly through the clinic and physician here in Louisville that helped her years ago. The doctor and office staff love facilitating embryo adoptions and the care we have been given so far has been tender and precious.

Please pray that those of us who value life will respond in a God-honoring way toward this group of precious babies, frozen in time, but known by their True Creator. He loves each and every one! Secondly, we really need your prayers. We want to be very clear about our expectations about this process. We are trusting that God has led us to this place, has gone before us, and is abounding in all the things we will need over the coming months. We will be experiencing some of the challenges that couples who choose IVF will face so there are definitely some physical and emotional needs. Also, pray for our four little embryos! Pray that God would prepare them as He is preparing us for this adoption.

If you would like more information about embryo adoption, you can check out these websites and article:

Friday, October 01, 2010

Returning to Louisville

Like recalling my parents' signature fragrances; my mom's sweet and warm like nectar and dad's spicy and fresh... Like the taste of the strawberry-cheesecake lollipops I used to get at Don's Seafood when I was a little girl... Like the sound of walking across my great-grandmother's living room, rattling the items in her china cabinet... It is odd to "think" sounds, smells, and tastes, but gratifying and comforting to feel the deep-rooted emotions each evokes. These are the closest analogies I can use to describe the feeling of driving into Louisville again last week. Even though I didn't grow up here, I really grew up here. The sound of the interstate, the signs and buildings along the way that encourage us to "remember when...", the kinds of trees changing along the rolls of the hills, the food in the local restaurants we had grown to love... It was a long road that led us here, but that made the ride in all the more sweet. Our favorite part of the return was all the familiar faces that welcomed us back: some perplexed at the sight of the Childs family after a year's absence and others intentional about sharing a smile and kind word and in some cases, a meal and good company. How gracious of God to love us in such a tangible, audible way. We really needed this move. Thanks for all the prayers and encouraging words over the past week.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Big Circle

We are excited to announce our next destination. You may have thought, Louisville, that the Childs had left for good, but God had different plans. We will end up right back where we started. Micah begins another (and we are praying it is his last) Interim position at the first of October.

Just as "Squaring the Circle" is a human impossibility, knowing all the intricacies of our circular path and all the reasons for each twist and turn is impossible for us. Asking ourselves what we have learned, however, is not futile. I can imagine there will be productive hours of reflection in our future. I have already begun subsequent blogs highlighting the education we have received (both willingly and situationally) along the way and our "favorites". For now, there is comfort in knowing all of this has been just a small part of a bigger story. We are increasingly thankful for this new opportunity. Our immediate conclusions are encouraging and true; the things we hold dear remain and the promises of the Author of our journey prove once again reliable. Since God is glorified in the journey and the destination, in the case of our family in this season of our lives, He must be more glorified in our big circle rather than just a winding line.

While our families are sad that our circle couldn't have been a bit wider, physically placing us back where we started 13 years ago as opposed to 9, they are supportive and rejoicing with us that this leg of the journey is complete. We had hopes to be closer to them, but know the road from KY to NC will seem much shorter after living in central Arkansas and along the gulf. We are excited about reconnecting with our church and friends. For me particularly, having familiar surroundings will be a precious gift.

Just a couple of fun facts: Micah's big circle spans over 7800 miles (not including side trips) and Tiffany, Andrew, and Elijah's over 2900. Our actual geographical circle looks more like an arrowhead on the map- Micah's like a kite on a string:)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

A New Pet?

Prompted by reading Charlotte's Web at the beginning of this school year, the boys just couldn't resist adopting this Orb Spider outside our apartment here in Little Rock. They call her Charlotte, although she doesn't resemble the original Charlotte for which the book is named. They check on her anytime we come and go as well from their bedroom window. They can still see her clearly from inside the house, but for my sake, she is safe on the other side of the glass. I have to admit, she has lovely markings, but the thing I like about her most is that she enjoys her outdoor dwelling and doesn't try and come inside~

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Pinnacle Mountain State Park

Heading out on the Arkansas Trail (the scenic, easy path), hoping to catch butterflies.

Found a butterfly...

...and caught it! Andrew released it afterward, of course.

Pinnacle Mountain from the road.

Enough of the easy stuff! The boys aren't sure about this...

But Andrew quickly realizes just how fun climbing a mountain can be.

Elijah "taking a rest".

Stage 8 of 10 that lead to the top.

The Childs guys celebrating their accomplishment.

Up with the hawks.

The spot we took our first Pinnacle Mountain picture as seen from the summitt.

Rested and ready to descend.

Looking back at the climb and glad we are headed down.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bumps in the Road

There is one word that keeps coming to my mind as I attempt to update our blog. That word is- tired. It is true that new and exciting evokes energy and stamina in many cases. For me and I daresay my family, new and exciting have become normal and predictable and always means we work until we are weary. I know that this position for Micah has offered challenges that have required a great deal of his energy. Regardless of how I feel, though, there is still a task at hand. This is not quite the end of this road. Thankfulness always combats tiredness. Sometimes it takes a good nap, though, for thankfulness to go from being a concept to a driving, exhilarating force~

The above paragraph is one I composed YESTERDAY... not knowing what today would bring. We have now sunk into a new level of TIRED! I have to be careful how I describe our current situation. One thing I can do as a writer for my readers is position a circumstance so that we are right and someone else is wrong. I in no way want to personify myself as infallible- my goodness, I am far from it. This present situation, however, in order for me to write about it clearly is going to paint another human being in a not-so-good light. It is what it is... and we need your prayers!

One thing we have learned about living in apartments is that being respectful to your neighbors is key to living peacefully. We have come to expect some noise in such close quarters and try to give grace to others as they live their lives with different schedules than ours. There is a lot written about children and apartments, so I have discovered. There are parents on two sides of the fence: 1)Those who value their children's growth and development and freedoms above those of their neighbors and 2)Those who have so many rules that children have no freedom to be children at all. We have tried with every move to intentionally make choices that would bless our neighbors and also give our children appropriate freedoms during daytime hours. Love our children AND our neighbors. Love conquers all, right? That is where I was completely wrong. What I have learned is that there truly are people living in apartments that do no like children living alongside them. They do not wish to get along. They do not like moms at home with children during the day (I am not just a stay-at-home mom/home school mom in title, I truly try to keep the raising of our boys centered around our home). Our approach to these people (and we have only met two in the last seven apartments we have lived in) is to do good to them (Luke 6:27) and not return evil for evil (Romans 12:17) among other things- not perfectly but desiring to show them love as we have first been loved. The boys and I, since we are the ones at home most of the time, have spent time praying for those around us as well.

However, what we have encountered at our last apartment has taken this to a different level. Suffice it to say that our downstairs neighbor has been dishonest with us, has demonstrated his quick-temper on several occasions, offered verbal/physical harassment, and not respected any warnings or directives given to him by the management office to take all his complaints to them and to stop the inappropriate behaviors. We have been in multiple conversations with our apartment managers to try and help the situation, but they assure us that we are doing nothing wrong and we should go on living our lives as normal. Unfortunately, there is nothing normal about being afraid of provoking another already hostile human being. It has created quite a bit of stress for me and in turn, Andrew and Elijah. We have decided to move... again... tomorrow. I know this person has no idea the kind of year we have had... moving so often. I don't know that it would make any difference. It really doesn't matter. He doesn't know us- But God ~two of the most beautiful words in scripture~ does.

I ask you to pray for us, specifically for peace, for strength, for rest, for perseverance, for love for others, for a safe environment for our children... But I also ask you to pray for this other individual. He has a much bigger problem than his neighbors. He needs the peace that can rule in his heart and change him from the inside out that comes from knowing and loving Jesus Christ.

There is more going on here than this. Since we settled, we have been trying to enjoy our surroundings the best we can. We found this lovely place not far from Micah's job. The photographs look like postcards due to the picturesque location and clear weather. This is believed to be the only remaining structure featured in the film Gone With The Wind. You can read more about it here.
We have also braved the heat and attended a couple of Arkansas Travelers Ballgames. The evening-sky backdrop for the stadium and the city across the river was spectacular. Our seats were right behind the visiting team's dugout. Thankfully, no one was hit in the head by a foul ball, though Elijah was really hoping to catch one. Andrew, on the other hand, made it his job to follow the cotton-candy guy through the stands so the moment Micah and I declared, "Snack Time!", he would know just where to go to get his ballpark food choice.

Even as we feel exhaustion, God is still God and His strength is perfect. We feel His protection in hotel walls tonight. Our desire is to echo the Psalmist:

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with song I give thanks to Him. ~Psalm 28:7

Saturday, August 07, 2010

School Begins

One thing I am most thankful for is good, organized home school curriculum. This will be our third year homeschooling Andrew. He will begin first grade next week and Elijah will begin Preschool. It is hard for me to believe they are both such big boys! One of my priorities in unpacking was to get everything together so we could begin next week. Starting Monday, this house will transform into Synesis Academy. Yes, it took a long time to find a suitable name for our school; one that gave some glimpse into our desire for what will happen here every day. There are some good choices, but we liked this one using the Greek word for understanding. The boys are excited... and I am strongly aware of the amount of self-discipline required to be an effective teacher. Once again, I find myself growing through raising children.

To kick-off the school year and to have a time to recognize Andrew's accomplishments last year, we took the boys to Chuck E Cheese's at Andrew's request. He called it the "School Celebration!"

Our book list this year includes (just to name a few):

Henry Higgins
, Beverly Cleary
Mr. Popper's Penguins, Richard & Florence Atwater
Charlotte's Web, E.B. White
George Muller, Janet & Geoff Benge
Detectives in Togas, Henry Winterfeld
Homer Price, Robert McCloskey
The Year of Miss Agnes, Kirkpatrick Hill

These are read aloud books in Sonlight's Grade 1 curriculum. We are also using Sonlight's science, language arts, and reading as well as Math U See, The Story of the World for history, and The Church History ABC's.

We are so thankful to be settling in for our short stint here in AR. God provided so much strength in the midst of sheer physical exhaustion the day we unpacked our trailer. At the end of the day, it was probably our easiest move-in, with the help of two dollies that were provided at just the right time. Even with over 100 degree temperatures, we made it through unscathed. Andrew particularly has grown to be quite the helper. He has the energy and drive to get things accomplished and is always motivated. We love the place we live and are excited to see what new things we can see in this part of the country. Micah is working diligently. And so the adventure continues...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Goodbye Tupelo

Before we move, I thought 'd share some pictures of the end of our time here in MS.
If you walk down the Main Street of Tupelo, you would never know that Elvis is no longer with us! He is perpetually getting a haircut at The Hair Co., playing his guitar, and bustin' a move.
And if you ever wanted to know where Elvis was born, well... here it is! Actually, the local gossip implies that this is not REALLY the actual house, but a replica. We'll let you all lose sleep over that one:)

Upon the eve's eve of our 5th move in the last year, we resonate with the profound wisdom of J.R.R. Tolkien; "Not all those who wander are lost." Thanks for continuing this journey with us.