04 December 2016

Job Description

First of all, y'all, my dining table is so messy right now. I would have put a picture up, but some of my friends are really tidy and would probably be grossed out actually seeing that I sometimes don't even put lunch dishes away until snack time. Just imagine there are two half-gnawed carrots like three inches away from this computer I'm typing on. [bc there definitely are.]

BUT I needed to at least start this post. Making space for me to be able to sit and think about things that aren't practical (in the making-our-house-run sense) is really difficult right now. I realized this morning I have a real problem with my job description.

Or, really, I have a problem with my understanding of my job. Or even what a job is. I think I'm among a large percentage of Americans whose lives have been shaped from a very young age to think about what career we will have. Which, if you look within the scope of all of human history, is fairly unique.

As I've been a full-time stay-at-home mom (albeit part-time paid staff for our church), I've had to process what it means to do the work that I do, and to begin to reorient myself away from overvaluing work that makes money. I've had to let go of feeling useless when I don't bring in money for our family, or ashamed of how little money I've made in the past year (or five. or like all my years, really). I've never had a career; I've only had a full-time, salaried job for one year of my whole life, no joke.

If I'm being honest, I feel like that sounds like I'm pretty useless. Dare I use the word I'm tempted, and really say I feel worthless? Because yeah.

But today I feel the winds of the Spirit saying I need this to be fully uprooted and thrown into the fire. Glorifying God is my job. Full stop. Following Jesus IS my job. And it's also the very best thing I can do for my marriage and my family.

Oh for sure, we could use a bit more income. It would reduce some stress (hi homebuying I DON'T LIKE YOU). But I won't feel more peace by eliminating all the situational stress in my life (also bc that's not a thing that's possible). I need to drink from the well of living water, and be satisfied in the only person who has what my heart needs. THAT is my life's job.

I'm going to start my training period at work now.

22 September 2016


You know, we've now reach the 6 month mark for our daughters being Stateside, so I'm feeling some (mostly internal) pressure to be kid of up-to-speed at this point. But the kids have been sick for almost four weeks (when you pass the same virus back and forth it NEVER LEAVES), and so at least two of them have been difficult (though they do take turns in this are) every blessed day for basically ever.

So you know, I'm not really feeling up to speed or adjusted to life as it is. Life as it is is still really draining. Even when they're not sick, I get tired of making four lunches and snacks and none of them being for me, while having to listen to at least one of them complain about it while simultaneously another is asking for a fork [which is hilariously profane in person] and another is saying "waddeee" [water] over and over.

 But I want to be content in this season, if though I don't think I'm going to look back and say it was my favorite, and I know it's possible to look back on the day and think it was a good one. But I'm struggling to care for them really well and care of myself well too. I mean, I have down time, but really taking care of my heart, soul, and body is still work, and uuuuughhhhh I work all dayyyyyy and I just want to turn my brain off.

So. I'm going to do something easy. I'm going to think of something that went well every day. Today Ezra and Stella organized the bookshelf (as in, all the books are vertical, instead of precariously piled on top/beside each other). And, when they were done, I heard them say, "let's go tell Mommy we did it together."

And it was REAL PRECIOUS YOU GUYS. Like this precious:
Enjoying an actual fire at the mountain house in August
And it's so, so special to see how bonded Ezra and Stella are. They are best friends. All the while Ezra is working out the difference between biological and adopted siblings, Ezra and Stella are knitting together our family in play.

This is a really special time for all four of the kids to be home before the "bigs" go to school next year (Ezra to first and Stella to kinder). And I'm really glad we all have it.

25 August 2016

Pretty Things

You guys, I like pretty things. And now that I don't have my free time taken up with adoption stuff, I've had time to make some pretty things. It's how I stay sane on a day when, say, one kid spits out semi-chewed peanuts onto the carpet, another complains about fun things like playing in the bath, and I get kneed in the nose helping take another kid potty. But it was the same day where all four kids were delighted by my singing the theme song to the Octonauts, so #tradeoffs

It kind of started with decorating for Stephen's ordination. I bought a pompom maker and made some lil cuties just like these:
Wuv these.
 Then I started using leftover yarn from leftover projects (including, but not limited to, Stella's hair designs and blankets that I actually finished).
Like these more refined ones.
I've made some simple wreaths, like the one currently on my door:
Yep, love it, 100 emoji.

And this less-simple one I made for post-Halloween-pre-Christmas (so November, I guess):
It's hard to tell from the photo, but this is a pretty big wreath.
 Also a couple precious cutie woodland ones because *squee!* hedgehog!

I have more up my sleeves, but the real reason I'm posting these is to hopefully be admitted to a show or two to sell some things. I'll leave you with a closeup of Mr CutieFace.

I will sincerely try to update on our lives tomorrow. My chromebook at home can't handle our fancy camera's prowess, so I have to come up to the church office to use pictures. So that's why there haven't been many updates.

24 August 2016

Taco Seasoning

I love making tacos for my family, mainly because all my kids eat taco meat pretty well. And finding something all my kids eat without complaining is a legit miracle. [the other thing they all eat happily is pizza. of course.]

Here's my secret weapon. I'm so sorry you don't have easy access to this lil gem.

I got this black pepper in Uganda, and I use a little bit at a time, to save it. I know spices don't keep all that long, but whatever. I don't like the flavor of our black pepper, but this stuff is delicious. I have searched quite a bit and cannot find a way to buy more, which makes me really sad. I'm sure there's other good stuff, but I want thiiiiiis stuff.

See my fancy photos like the professional bloggers? Those black dots on the carpet aren't bugs; they're Legos. #imsofancy

Anyway, I like this mixture because it's not too spicy for the kids, but not too bland for me. I use almost 2 pounds of ground beef for our tacos because there are 6 people in my family, and my kids pound back tacos, so yeah. I use:

2T chili powder (slightly heaping tablespoons)
1T cumin (also slightly heaping)
1t salt
1/2t onion powder
1/2t garlic powder
1/3t ground black pepper (magic)

and I mix it all in a separate bowl. I am NOT saying this will change your life, unless maybe you're sick and tired of paying for tacos mix, bc this is much cheaper than buying premade seasoning. It's also a lot less salty, and I like to taste more flavors besides salt when I eat food. I also like to make use of HEB's bulk spices, to only keep what I need, and therefore keep my spices fresh. Also they're WAAAY cheaper than buying bottles. WAY.

Anyway, I've been typing this during dinner, so I should probably go. I'm going to post some pictures of things I'm hoping to sell at various craft fairs this fall tomorrow, and maybe (someday) I can actually update you on how life is going.

07 July 2016

Praying is Not Enough

Yes, we MUST be praying. Must. God is more powerful than hate or fear. As I struggle to find a way to sleep tonight, I having been praying the whole time. I'm sure you have been too. We must be praying.

But God doesn't ask us to stay in our houses and pray, the end. We are the body. We must act as Jesus would act. We must speak the words the Spirit gives. We cannot remain in our cloisters. The world NEEDS Jesus, right this moment.

My foremothers (and fathers, but I'm a mother) accomplished amazing things through Christ. And of course they were empowered, grounded, envisioned through prayer. The way was made for them by the Almighty. He went before and guarded from behind. But they did not just pray. They prayed and spoke. They prayed and wrote. They prayed and marched. They prayed and served. And went. And fed. And clothed. And healed. And mothered. And died, in Jesus' name.

Corrie ten Boom prayed. And she organized, hid, fed, clothed, and rescued. And when she was caught, she prayed, and preached, and comforted, and encouraged, and evangelized.

Please don't close yourself off to what God might want to do through you. People are dying. We MUST pray, and we MUST act.

Praying is Not Enough

Yes, we MUST be praying. Must. God is more powerful than hate or fear. As I struggle to find a way to sleep tonight, I having been praying the whole time. I'm sure you have been too. We must be praying.

But God doesn't ask us to stay in our houses and pray, the end. We are the body. We must act as Jesus would act. We must speak the words the Spirit gives. We cannot remain in our cloisters. The world NEEDS Jesus, right this moment.

My foremothers (and fathers, but I'm a mother) accomplished amazing things through Christ. And of course they were empowered, grounded, envisioned through prayer. The way was made for them by the Almighty. He went before and guarded from behind. But they did not just pray. They prayed and spoke. They prayed and wrote. They prayed and marched. They prayed and served. And went. And fed. And clothed. And healed. And mothered. And died, in Jesus' name.

Corrie ten Boom prayed. And she organized, hid, fed, clothed, and rescued. And when she was caught, she prayed, and preached, and comforted, and encouraged, and evangelized.

Please don't close yourself off to what God might want to do through you. People are dying. We MUST pray, and we MUST act.

05 July 2016

Naptime Thoughts

Hopefully this Friday I'll get a chance to sit down and give you guys a bigger update. For now, it's naptime, and I had to share this thought with you (as any mom of several kids might think):

I was made for so much more than folding piles and piles and piles of laundry. But I was also made for folding laundry (because my current calling requires it).

Now I'll get back to using some (incredibly rare) quiet time to fold yet another load and a half of laundry.

25 May 2016

My Stephen

We were laying in bed tonight (keeping each other awake with rambletalk), and I was just so struck by how wonderful it is to have a husband who's willing to brainstorm with me about what we feed our kids. It matters to him, not just because he cares that our kids get nourishment, but also because he's the one who feeds them breakfast every morning. He's also the one who gets up with them every morning, and takes them potty every morning, and brushes their teeth every morning (and most nights). And lest that sound like nbd, please remember we have four kids. So two potty trips, two diaper changes, four mouths to brush, and four children in varying states of willingness to eat what he prepares all by himself.

Wee babes on honeymoon
Feeding these kids is almost always a thankless struggle. I'm very thankful our daughters don't have some of the eating problems that can come from food scarcity; they definitely have the normal little kid problems of "I'd rather survive on the minimum amount of calories to keep me alive so I can spend the maximum amount of time playing. Also what you're serving me isn't pizza so it's just not any good. Sorry not sorry. Also I'm so incredibly thirsty or I need a fork immediately oh wait no I need a spoon or where, where is the ketchup I obviously need for my lettuce."

Stephen and Ezra matching, generally being precious. Spring 2014.
[my mantra lately has been there are four of you and one of me. I can only do one thing at a time. I will put your request on the to-do list. You're welcome.] If I'm making life sound hard right now, well, it is. It's a LOT of output every day, with many tasks that don't intrinsically bring me joy. There are so many beautiful and special moments I have with my kids, but there are currently more times I have to dig deep into my place of abiding with God to have any hope of handling whatever is going down well. When they play together, or play well with me, it is sweeter than any other thing in life, but there's also plenty of grabbing and yelling and tantrums and selfishness and little people being just unabashedly sinful. It is draining to train four little people in empathy and love and, you know, how to live in a family. But, praise God! I don't have to do it alone, or even just with God.

My precious boys vs my sad camera phone, late August 2014
Stephen isn't a showy person. He doesn't plan exciting dates or write me love notes very often (though he did write me several songs about ten years ago). He doesn't habitually praise me in front of people (at least while I'm there). He doesn't buy me big gifts or do any extravagant things. Sometimes I wish he did, when I want to do irresponsibly-fun things I'd regret later, but I know that what I really prefer is his continual devotion to me and our family.

If our hands are full, you should see our hearts! And my head; I'm craaazy absent-minded these days.
I know he's really tired. But he doesn't sleep in. Ever. And he gets home straight from work, helps feed the kids (and often tackles the post-dinner kitchen), is the main put-to-bedder (I also have a role in the bedtime routine, but it's much smaller), and then goes back in to work making calls to raise support. To provide for us. He really does lay his life down for me. And I'd much rather have his help than for him to be telling people how amazing I am for doing everything myself, know what I mean? I am so utterly blessed to have this man as my life partner. I love my Stephen.

03 May 2016


You know, I've lived in College Station for the vast majority of my life, and we're moving to a new city in (possibly less than) a year. And you know what I'm going to miss most?

...not knowing every route to everywhere (though it is convenient)...

...not the proximity of everything (bc there's not much to do here)...

...not even Fellowship Church, my home for over a decade.

It will be this woman right here.

I know it's not a quality pic. But wouldn't you miss someone who would look at you like this?

I mentioned Macie in my last post, because her husband, Mark, was ordained with Stephen. And Macie is such a great candidate for the role of Pastor's Wife, not because fits some mold, but because she is a minister. And she loves with breadth and depth. She is so committed to God and to her relationship with him. Springs of living water flow from her, because she puts action to her desire to abide in Jesus.

Mace and her gorge fam

And she loves me. She loves me even though I'm, frankly, not a great friend. She texts me encouragement and I often don't even text back you guys. Not even a "thanks!" #yesreallyabadfriend

I love her too, so much; I'm just not good at loving people well. I can say that, the Holy Spirit spoke almost those exact words to me (full of grace and favor as well as truth) about my husband. But Mace is a delight to my heart, and I'm going to miss seeing her face more than the home I grew up in.

Okay, also because she's like really pretty.

Would you take a moment and pray for her? Her loss is worse than mine, because she's losing two other great friends to our church plant move. We're going on an adventure (but the real kind, with hardships and struggle; not the sightseeing kind), and she has to go about her normal life without people she's shared it with for many years. Not that we can't still be close, but it isn't the same as living on the same block and seeing each other almost daily. So I'm asking for you to pray for her now. She loves prayer, and this is a great way for you to help me bless her. Thanks.

28 April 2016

My Husband, the Pastor!

Stephen was ordained on Sunday. Which feels both like an obvious expectation and just so crazy at the same time. He was celebrated by our church and a few of our supporters on Sunday.

He was ordained with our good friend, Mark Gonzalez. He and his wife went on staff a year before Stephen, and Ezra & their oldest kiddo are only six weeks apart, so we've been going through the gamut of being campus staff and then parents together for a long time.

current pastors praying over the new pastorlings

After giving them a litany of charges (protect the flock, be devoted to serving, other things I missed because I had to take Stella to the bathroom), the current pastors laid hands on them and prayed over them. Then they brought us up to pray over us as families.

Seen here totally NOT about to make out with Pastor Steve.

Our kids endured made it through the whole service surprisingly well, especially considering we were at the front of the entire crowd and it was well past their lunchtime before it was over.

This man of mine is really incredible. I don't talk about him a lot on here, but he is. He parented our boys himself while I was gone in Uganda, all while working as much as he could to not use up all his paid time off. I cannot tell you how tired he was. And then when we got back from Uganda, he decided he would take the kids over to his parents' house once a week to give me a night off -- even though he never gets a night off ever. And he decided to wake up early every morning so he can get to work earlier so he can come home earlier and spend time with us. He also also lets me sleep in on his days off. Not to mention how he encourages me and keeps us focused on our financial goals, since we're moving to San Antonio in a year and we just had this crazy expense called adopting two children internationally (or whatever).

Also he's super handsome and loves babies.

And we make gorgeous babies together, but that's just a bonus.

26 April 2016

Mirah Mine

This girl has been through a LOT in the past two months (okay, two years). She had a weird thing happen to her where her gums started bleeding, when they hadn't been before, and it got so extreme that they would bleed just from her gritting her teeth, but she didn't have any cavities. It was alarming to see her gums bleeding without anything touching them, just from her biting down.

After a battery of tests, all of her levels looked great, and the doctors basically shrugged their shoulders and guessed it was virus-related. Turns out it must have been, since it got better slowly (just like it came) and was followed by a rash (with no other symptoms), which just started to clear up on Sunday.

We also had an abdominal ultrasound (to check on her spleen and liver), as well as a bone age x-ray done. The results came back today: she's about two years and six months old, just like we thought! With her current birthdate of 9/14/14, we'll definitely need to change the year.

Luckily this little girl is pretty fun-oriented, and with the exception of a few days when her mouth was really having trouble, she's been as sunny as she usually is.

She's also definitely gone through a growth spurt (or two?!?) since I got her in February, and her tummy isn't quite as big. And her big girl hair is coming in! Such big changes for our little sweetie.

16 April 2016

The Bigs

I love these kiddos so much. And they really like each other (most of the time). As Stella's starting to really speak English -- whole sentences! -- they're better able to engage in imaginative play together. Daniel Tiger has really come in handy; they sing jingles at each other, which is kind of helpful, albeit often a little self-righteous. It has been hard to parent littles who can't "use your words to say how you feel," but we're getting there! So exciting to be able to talk through things together, especially with that sweet girl up there.

We took these pictures during our last cold snap of the year -- of course it was really cold for like 12 hours, so I had to change all the outfits I had chosen for six people on the same day. Our family photos were taken by a coworker and friend, Jenni Olowo, for free! She has such a heart for adoption. Now that we finally have good-quality pictures of us together, I can send out our thank-yous that have been so long in coming!

08 April 2016

Being a Martha

I was reading in John this morning, thinking about what a bad rap Martha gets from people. Like she messes up once, but then when her brother dies, she goes out to meet Jesus and has this wonderful, powerful interaction with him. She makes this gorgeous declaration that Jesus is the Messiah, and when she goes back to tell Mary, she calls him the Teacher. Which was courageous, because it was definitely deemed inappropriate in that day for a rabbi to teach women (though Jesus didn't care much about that, obviously).

So it's not fair that she gets branded the stick-in-the-mud who's only concerned with keeping up appearances or in the things that don't matter. She made a mistake. It is super easy for women who manage households to fall into that very same rut of thinking. Because the house does need to run! Someone does have to make sure people are fed and laundry is washed and floors are cleaned. She just let the banal distract her focus and she lost her real purpose. If I was young, that sounds like a horrible offense against everything I stand for, but it's a frequent struggle now that so many of my daily tasks are menial. I forget that wiping bottoms and feeding children and making sure some are learning how to count correctly and which color is orange, and some are learning to read, and some are learning to for heaven's sake stop climbing on the bunk bed ladder; you will fall and it will hurt. And for heaven's sake, nobody touch each other because it always turns into yelling or crying at each other.

The point is, it is easy to forget that this is not why I'm here. I'm here to love and serve God, and to follow Him where He leads. That is my act of worship. It currently involves more poop and pee and screaming than I prefer. But I can bring my children with me to the feet of Jesus, and I can like throw myself at his feet and say "I'm sorry!" when I forget. And get really upset that not one of the kids ate lunch well today. And also maybe threw the Teach Your Child to Read book across my room I was so frustrated. Which totally did not happen today.

Anyway, I like Martha. She was a real person who had real flaws and real virtues. I just really appreciate having a (female!) person in the Bible who is as nuanced as Martha in as few verses. I want to face my failures without heaping shame on myself, and I want to proclaim courageously who Jesus is and who he is to me. And when I meet Martha in heaven, I want to thank her, another woman who loves Jesus.

06 April 2016


I believe the kids are starting to figure out how to play together in ways they enjoy. Praise God! A little over a month past being home, patterns are emerging, but things are also changing. One of our daughters is now expressing a lot stronger emotions than she ever has -- today was fairly extreme, on the number and length of tantrums -- Stephen even said, "Wow, what is it even like when she does that?" because she's previously only withdrawn when she was upset. I am glad that she is feeling the safety to even let go, but it's really hard to navigate when she doesn't yet know many feeling words, and when I don't know what's normal little kid emotions, normal little kid sinfulness, and the not-normal big hurts she's faced in her little life.

For me, at least, I love the puzzle that parenting is; you get one piece at a time. I don't super love that you often get the bad side of the coin more than the good, since they don't have the skills and heart to utilize their strengths well. Ezra, for example, is an advocate. I know this because when Stephen and I are upset with each other in front of the kids, he always tries to mediate. Also, when one of his friends hurts another kid, he always goes to the offender and either yells at them or hits them. My little justice-oriented kiddo, hates the bad guys in shows and is always fighting them at playtime.

But you get those things in little clues that eventually make a building block in their little personality. Getting our girls at two and four, it's one of the only ways I really feel the loss of time (the other way is in attaching, but that's for another day). Here comes my Stella, and I don't have the thousands of hours watching her and interacting with her that give me those clues. And so I don't know if she's sulking because she's tired, or she's having a rough day emotionally, or maybe because her personality might be a little moody. I don't know if choosing her clothes is a Really Big Deal because of her background or because she's particular about things (my guess is currently the latter). Time will tell, but I would certainly know by now if I'd birthed her.

Mirah, too, there are things she does, and I'm really not sure if they're personality traits or adaptive mechanisms for the environment she grew up in. I do lean fairly strongly on the nature-side as far as personality goes, seeing as how I could tell Ezra and Judah would be very different before Judah was a week old. And they are! Right now just so incredibly different. Judah is more emotional than Ezra was at this age, but also more relational, and sweeter. Not that he isn't starting to dip is feet in willful disobedience (and by dip his feet, I mean he's taking swimming lessons in sin sea). As toddlers do; he just does it with the cutest little smile, the stinker!

All my kids are really different from each other; I feel like I'm eating at the buffet of parenting. :)

On Friday, the girls will have their first major doctor's visits (we had some struggles with insurance). I'm really excited to get them all looked over by a pediatrician who spent many years working with children in Nigeria. I'm also super excited to have their ages more correctly ascertained.

31 March 2016

Hand to the plow

I was convicted yesterday morning of putting my hand to the plow and looking back. Really, my hand is lashed to the plow -- it's not like I'm going to leave my family -- but every day is a struggle to embrace this season of life and not wish it was different.

Nothing crazy is going on behaviorally, I just have four little kids when I previously had two. Two of those kids don't speak English very well, and one of those kids is just starting to feel "safe" enough to say how she really feels about things... which I know I should be glad of, but, you see, I don't like whining. Also wading into the world of crying, and I feel almost bewildered. Ezra has never once sat down and cried when he was upset. I am not kidding. He may cry while he hits something, or throws something, or yells angrily what he wants. But loudly crying when something doesn't go her way? What do I do with that? #recoveringboymom

Don't worry; I'm figuring it out (slowly). It doesn't help that my attachment to my girls isn't as rock-solid as the boys. I simply haven't had enough time. I mean, come on, I've had five years with Ezra and eighteen months with Judah. So, you know, I have to actively think about doing some caregiving things that I unconsciously do with the boys. That's not wrong, and I know that in my head, but even that there's an internal difference for the kids I've parented for years and the kids I've parented for almost two months is really draining for me. It's hard for me to ever feel like a successful parent right now. And that makes waking up today to do the job I feel like I failed at yesterday pretty tough.

But my dear friend reminded me of a little truth this morning that helped reorient me when I was really starting to steer off-course. She reminded me (okay the Holy Spirit reminded me through her point) that, for some seasons, we are servants most of the time. And what we do is serve. Do we get the thanks for it we would if we weren't servants? No. But we're called to servitude. And we aren't celebrated or encouraged or noticed like we want crave. Still, my service is a glorious offering to God, and he notices.

I realized that I've been parenting my kids out of my love for them, and it's just not enough. There isn't enough of my love for any of my kids that doesn't run out by 9am these days! Gifts is my primary love language, and I've been laying down my life as a gift to my children. Of course I'm going to struggle! My preschoolers and toddlers (omg I have so many kids) aren't capable of handling such a gift well.

But God is able to receive the gift of my servitude and self-denial in his utterly capable hands, and the hiddenness of my life is not hidden from his sight. I know that every load of laundry I wash, meal I make, bottom I wipe, and every time I book it from one end of our tiny apartment to the other to mother my kids is received as an act of worship and of love. Seriously though, how do you people who live in more than 900 square feet keep up with your kids?!? I am calling "I'm coming!" to break up fights or comfort a kid or tell someone "no, you cannot play with that right there right now" all day long!

Okay, I got sidetracked from my totally poignant and spiritual point. Anyway, my kids don't deserve my life. Look, I love them so freaking much, but I can't let them be my purpose. For me, it's not enough. I don't even care how that makes me sound, they can't be the "because" of every thing I dislike doing in my current job description [raise your hand if you love washing urine off your hands, or parenting two kids who are fighting over a used paper plate]. The reason I take hold this plow every morning can only be found in God.

28 March 2016

In case you're wondering...

We're doing okay.

Nobody pulls faces like Ezra pulls faces.

 Sure, it's an adjustment for each of us...

and it's been a bit crazy...

but we're often pretty happy.

Ezra wanted to wear his soccer jersey, so they all wore them. Two of them say "FIFA" and two say "FUFA"! Love it.

16 March 2016


Ugh I am SO SORRY it has been so long since I've updated! I will try to start updating now. We got home March 2nd! Our kids started getting sick within a couple days of being home (all four of them are currently sick, tho the two bigs are definitely on the mend). It has felt a bit like going from rowing on a rowboat (my parenting skillz) in a calm lake (of two children) to trying to rebuild that rowboat into an ocean liner in the middle of... some kind of weather disturbance in the middle of the ocean. Four kids, ages 5 and under, is no joke you guys. The amount of time I spend preparing and cleaning up food, for example. Or making trips to the bathroom. Or getting kids to stop hurting each other (or to stop crying when the other is actually trying to be nice). I'm exhausted every day.

It doesn't help that I've been so isolated. I haven't been able to go to church since I've been home (and we can't play with friends) since the kids have been sick. Quiet times have been necessary, not just for me to be a good mom, but even for basic sanity. We're talking not crying by 9 in the morning sanity. On that note, I'm so tired. I'm going to bed.

22 February 2016

Process Update

Okay, here's where we are on the adoption side of things:

We had our appointment last Wednesday, and it went wonderfully. Thank you for praying! I was so vulnerable during all that time. But I was able to meet a member of the birth family who'd taken care of the girls as well as she could, and I was so thankful to meet her! They moved our appointment time that day (fro 1:30 to 3:15), so we were there until 4:30 (poor Stephen was alone with all four kids the day after they got here from noon to 5:15).

The woman who was interviewing the family said everything seems great, and she felt comfortable scheduling the visa exit interview (yay!), BUT she said they didn't have any availability until Monday, Feb 29th. Which means we wouldn't get their visas until March 2nd. Which means we wouldn't be home until the evening of Ezra's 5th birthday, March 3rd. Which is miserable for this mommy. It also means we have nothing to do until a week from now. Nothing. UUUUUGGGGGH.

I've been reading An Unhurried Life and it's been so good for this time (for reasons I believe are obvious). I'm really trying to harness my thoughts as they keep spinning out from under me about wanting to be home, with my "house" and my people and my life. Here everything's just a bit more difficult, and I really didn't think I'd be here for a month, but it would be a month to the day if we left on the 2nd. I'm pretty worn down.

So, please pray with me that they would give us an exit interview on Wednesday. Stephen's leading worship on Sunday, and I'd love for us to be there. I more than anything just don't want to miss Ezra's birthday.

A Good, Hard Week

Sorry for the silence. The Ugandan government restricted access to social media sites (even email at some points) during the elections. I'm sure you can imagine my thoughts about that.

Having Stephen and the boys has been so, so good. Look, I was even able to have Stephen take a picture of me! Not the most important reason for them coming, but still, a perk.

See, I am here!
Oh, it's also been really hard. Going from two kids, 4 and under, to four kids, 4 and under, is a really crazy transition. Add in that the boys hardly slept on the trip here and have been really out of their element, and this house is not equipped for children or regular cooking for six people and, whew. It's been a lot.

First time watching tv together. #amazingparents
But still so good. Our sons met our daughters. We rode with the driver to the airport to pick them up -- neither girl could sleep, they were so excited. They've started learning how to play together.

several baths were taken
They tried their hardest to charm the guard here (everyone has a guard here), as well as anyone whose attention they could catch through the ...peephole? hole-for-unlatching-the-door-from-the-outside-and-also-to-look-through...

many turns were taken
the thrilling view
They have started to bond, and also to jostle each other a bit as they figure out their places in our new family. I think it's been hardest on these two:

I know your heart just melted. I know.
For Ezra, any change is difficult. Traveling halfway across the world and adding two sisters into the family and then preparing to leave them again... what a doozy of a week! And his behavior has shown it.

this kid pulls faces like nobody's business
For Mirah, it's just been adjusting to not being the youngest; she was not a fan of Judah for a few days! But they've managed to start playing some together in toddler ways (poking each other's faces; sticking their fingers in each other's mouths; you know, gross toddler stuff).

I'm in love with these kids, even though I've cried almost every day from being exhausted by their needs (of discipline, mostly the boys).


Tomorrow, the boys go, and I don't know when we'll follow. Please pray it's soon. Half my heart is leaving me again, and the kids are just as sad to be parting.

14 February 2016

An Invitation

I probably won't post again until after the birth family interviews on Wednseday, mostly because I'll be busy preparing for Stephen and the boys to arrive Tuesday night. My feelings about which can be summed up in the video below.

So freakin' excited. But that isn't why I wanted to post today. I want to extend an invitation.

You see, the birth family interviews are incredibly important. Their answers to the embassy questions will determine if we can leave next week, or if our case will be sent to Rome for further review (which, if you remember, adds on at least a month to the process). Now, it's important for the embassy to be thorough, to make sure the family doesn't think this is like a long-term fostering situation. In previous years, birth families have lost their children because of misunderstanding (and outright fraud), and we want every child leaving Uganda permanently to be leaving with their birth family's blessing. But that makes the embassy now very careful, even a little leading in their questions, to ensure it doesn't happen. Even the birth family saying things about the kids visiting can make the case be sent to Rome.

Now, we know we have the remaining members of the girls' family's blessing to adopt them. We believe it will go well. But I am inviting you to fast with me that the women will not be confused by any questions, will answer clearly what they understand to be true, and that we will be able to leave with the boys on February 23rd.

Our appointment is at 1:30p Uganda time, so 4:30a Central time. If you would prefer not to fast (or cannot), I invite you to wake up at that time to pray for the two relatives who are coming from 5 hours away to testify.

Prayer points:
-that they would not be intimidated or overawed by the embassy (which is pretty intimidating, I think)
-that the embassy workers would be fair to and considerate of them
-that they would remember the documents they signed (8 months ago!)
-that they would have peace when they see me
-that our case would be approved quickly, despite the election being the day after our appointment (!)
-that we will be able to fly home on the same flights as the boys

Thanks! We have started to settle in as a trio, and it's feeling very normal. Nothing is perfect (they're children, after all), but it has felt like days at home, which reassures me and fills me with hope. In this four-year-mountain climb, I think we're just about to summit.

12 February 2016

Process Update Pt 2 (actual process update)

That's a please-tickle-me face if I've ever seen one
See? Towels. And balloons that ended up being WAY bigger than I thought they'd be.
Of course this popped moments later.
This week, we've had our I-600 filing date (which I wrote about here) on Monday, our first and second visits to the IOM on Tuesday and Thursday respectively, and received the email that gives us the date for their birth family interview. If you're not adopting internationally, the I-600 if the document that the US government uses to determine if a child meets the definition of a legal orphan. The IOM is the medical office embassies use to determine if people who want to migrate are healthy enough.

The embassy changed the way they do the I-600 and the visa. Previously, the birth family came for the visa exit interview, after the I-600 was approved. I think the way they're doing it now makes more sense, since the interview is important to deciding if they can approve the case here, or if the case needs to be sent to Rome for further review. A family we met the first time we were here is adopting a sibling set of three, and they were a week ahead of us in the process. They just had their case sent to Rome because the birth father wasn't briefed well enough and answered some of his questions confusingly.

I don't blame him; it's pretty intimidating! The mom sent me some advice so we can learn from their experience. It's not that their kids don't meet the definition of legal orphan -- they definitely do -- it's that everything needs to be clearly approvable, or the case gets sent to Rome. This family's case will be approved, it will just take a month+ longer than they were hoping, which requires making some really hard decisions concerning that extra time. So please be praying the birth mother and grandmother will be briefed well on how to answer their questions clearly so that there is no confusion.

The IOM visits, other than taking a long time, were fine. Mirah's birth certificate date makes her too young to test for tuberculosis, but Stella got hers done. Yay no tuberculosis! They also had their physicals done. Oddly enough the part when they cried the most was having to stand on the scale and have their height taken.  ..? We had been waiting for over two hours by this time, so I don't really blame them for being fed up.

Now we don't have anything to "do" until the birth family interview on Wednesday. If it goes perfectly, we should be home fairly quickly after that (within a week, we hope!). PLEASE be praying this is the case.

Process Update Pt 1

I know my posts have been mostly serious and fairly somber, but there's a lot of fun and a lot of normal going on. Cooking eggs, mopping the floor (not because I'm a tidy person, but because of the ants invading), reading books. Washing clothes I'm not willing to let a man I don't know wash for me. [okay, maybe that last one is less normal in America.]

Our house and my little confident girl. #adorbs
As I type, the girls are playing with towels they stole from found in my room. I'm really glad we get days like this, because it's much more true to real life. We won't be zipping in cars and waiting in offices for hours at a time at home.

Okay, this ended up not being a process update bc they're asking me to take pictures of them. #soadorbs

11 February 2016

Matoke and Posho

We found (okay, Linda found for us) a little restaurant we eat at pretty frequently. They make all the food the girls are most familiar with, and I want them to be able to have matoke, posho, and the like while we're still here.

That I get to have chapati may also be a factor.
This restaurant is around the corner from where we're staying. Unfortunately, the street we're living on is both narrow and busy, and people are really scary - one bodaboda driver who was carrying some boards knocked Mirah's arm while he passed by. The cars aren't better. They get so close to you, sometimes even when there isn't a car passing the other way.

What's Lusoga for smorgasbord?
It's nice to go in order to get out of the house as well. Because we're staying in a house, there are no other families nearby (who speak English). Just across the street is the market. Americans, I don't mean a grocery store; think a flea market but with food vendors. So much gorgeous food!

Oh my heart! What a little stinker! Love her spunkiness.
Tonight was a little difficult because I'd actually made dinner, but I used a pepper I didn't know, and it was incredibly spicy. I think they were habañeros... #oops
I didn't have time to make something else, so to the restaurant we went, at the busiest time on the road.

On the way home, I was hurrying because both of the girls needed to potty, and a car came really close to Stella (who was walking, holding my hand). A man walking the opposite way on my side gave me a dirty look and said, "take care of that girl!"

I know it shouldn't have, but it made me cry. Really hard. I have gotten angry and hostile looks, but no one has said anything to me until today. And I know a lot of Ugandans don't like foreigners adopting because they don't know the adoption process; many believe we can just walk into Uganda, shower people with money, and walk out with a kid. So it makes sense that they would be suspicious.

And that man doesn't know how hard I'm trying to "take care of that girl," or how close the one I was holding came to dying because others weren't taking care of her. That man didn't see how his face and tone affected "that girl" after he said those words. I wonder if he would care. I know to some, I'm a thief; I'm stealing children. To some, I'm a trafficker. Really.

And I in no way want to make light of all my daughters will lose by leaving their home country, and have lost already by my involvement in their lives. But to those people, I wonder what they would say if I were to ask them: would it have been better for Mirah to have died at the age of two of a treatable disease in her home country, or grow up to deal with that loss as she matures?

Maybe I'll ask her. In thirty years.

08 February 2016

Be Essalto

First, watch this video:

After looking for some music for them to listen to while I wash dishes, I found this lil gem of Watoto children's choir. The girls have started singing it, but they're just starting to learn English words, so it ends up being something like "be essalto o Lohd ah God, ohres u reign" and it's reeeeeally cute. It's nice that there are few words in the song, since that's about what they can do right now. But they've really started to mimic; I'm hopeful they'll be using more English words soon.

I was so glad we've watched that video a few times, because we were at the embassy for two HOURS today. I'm just saying, make a two year old and a four year old be calm and quiet for two hours! Almost an entire hour of that was just sitting, waiting for the embassy worker to get the documents I had to fill out. So when they would start to get crazy, I would hum a little bit of it and start them singing. And dancing a little too. Man, they're cuuuute.

I felt so frazzled this morning. I think the embassy appointment went well, but I really cannot tell either way. I had all the documents she asked for except for Mirah's passport, which is being fixed right now because it has her birthdate as one day after what her birth certificate says. The worker didn't say when she would be in touch, so I don't really know what to expect. They will want some family members to come down for the interview soon; I believe that is our next big hurdle.

We video chatted with the boys right before bed tonight, and Stella kept saying "bye, Ezrat" all through brushing teeth. I'm really excited for them to meet in person and start being brothers and sisters. And by that, I think I'm really excited for them to be able to play, and quietly preparing myself for learning a whole new level of appropriate refereeing.

Please be praying the process with go smoothly. The expected timeline seems like the very earliest we could be going home would be the 21st. But that's based on one other person's experience, so it could be different for us. Which is a little daunting to think about for me, being here in Uganda alone, caring for two kids without any breaks, and in a house where there is no one else to talk to (that speaks English).

07 February 2016

An Unhurried Attachment

Today has been a really good day so far (it's noon here as I type). Yesterday was really tough because Mirah wasn't feeling well, and she was also really tired. And you know, tired toddlers are just hard. They don't know what they want, but they kind of want to sleep, but they don't want you to put them to bed.

But I don't know Mirah very well yet. Something would happen (sometimes I wouldn't even know what it was), and she would start crying, and then she'd scream if I tried to pick her up, hold her, put her in my lap, even touch her. I thought at first she was having some difficult emotions about leaving the foster home and being with me, which would be understandable, and it was really hard to not personalize the feeling of her rejecting me. I did pretty well by just focusing on her and not on me, but it was a difficult three hours.

Turns out, I think she just didn't want to go to sleep. She's been falling asleep on me a lot, so when I was trying to hold her, she was thinking I was going to put her to bed. And she was just really tired but wanting none of that. I felt so much better when she woke up, ate a good meal (pictured below), and started happy yelling again! In the afternoon, she took another nap, but she didn't fight it. And last night she hardly fussed about bedtime!

This first meal I cooked for them. No vegetables were eaten. But happy faces!
It was hard to not feel very excited about parenting her yesterday. I had to keep reminding myself that I would feel the same way if my sons were acting like that, because I don't enjoy the sound of crying or whining, and I don't really like it when someone asks me for something and then gets upset when I give it to them (the way of the tired toddler, amiright). Still, I was feeling really tender and a little scared, despite my rational thoughts.

While the girls play together, I've been (very slowly) reading An Unhurried Life by Alan Fadling, and God definitely used it to remind me that I don't need to rush our attachment. We have the time to let it grow and bloom. I have the Spirit to help me nurture and parent the girls, just as I do with the boys. Just because I don't currently feel as attached to my daughters as I do to my sons, doesn't mean it will be this way forever. But, when I'm not reminded, I think that's where my mind strays.

As I was holding Mirah just now for naptime, I was studying her face. She has been sometimes studying mine the past few days. And it's something I've loved to do with the boys, especially since bedtime is often a difficult couple of minutes with them as well. I think watching kids sleep is a great way to fall in love. She has such delicate little features. I cannot believe I have four beautiful children.

I mean, how could you not adore her?

05 February 2016

Day 2

Today was a lot of good and a fair amount of please-don't-make-me-do-this. I woke up at 3am and couldn't go back to sleep, so my own fatigue was definitely a problem. I also forgot to plug the fridge back in last night, so the meat I bought (for 3 meals with leftovers) was spoiled. The girls did a great job playing, and they ate breakfast really well (6 eggs for two children, and toastnjam, and half an apple, and half an avocado). But we were waiting to be picked up to go back to the grocery store all day (there was a mixup with the drivers). Which sounds like not a big deal, but I was never sure I could make them a meal without it being interrupted, or put Mirah down for a nap, it was just an extra stressor.

I had to start really telling them no to things, even giving Mirah a time-in for hitting (it's like she was destined to be a Muenich. both boys are hitters). UGH I DON'T WANT TO DISCIPLINE. It's the lamest part of parenting.

And Mirah cries at bedtime and the wise part of me is all like "it's really not a big deal" but the whiney part is like "I don't waaaannaaaaa." But this morning, I went into their room right as Mirah was waking up, and she just laid her head on my lap and started dozing again. And when we finally went to the store she had just woken up, so she climbed in my arms and wouldn't be put down. Which, you know, she's pretty heavy to carry all around a grocery store, but it was sweet that she sought comfort from me.

I purposefully didn't take pictures today because I didn't want to make the fun things we did into something else. We blew up these ridiculously big balloons shaped like a swizzle stick, and the girls had a blast with stickers, and taking the caps off the markers (there was some drawing but not that much). They played with the balls we got at the store and started peeking through the hole in the gate at the front. They devoured their dinner and they sing and talk to each other all the time, including many different variations on "how are you?" and each other's names. During Mirah's nap, Stella and I started practicing letters.

So I think good things were done today. The girls seemed to generally be comfortable here and with me. Obviously I have no regrets about being here. I think really I just miss my boys and Stephen's coparenting. On the business side of things, Mirah's birth certificate was issued today, praise the Lord! We're going to finish filling out the forms tomorrow for our I-600 filing appointment on Monday. So excited to get the documents for the girls. There are so many blank spaces in their stories that I don't know; I'll be so glad to have even a little more to share with them when they're older.

04 February 2016

Day 1 of Forever

That title sums up my mindset right now: day _ of forever. Today was so crazy, but it was just the very first day.

I was so excited to fly in last night. The four things I have been anticipating with the most excitement:

1) getting through Entebbe airport and into the Ugandan air again (it feels like Texas in late May, heart eyes emoji)
2) getting my hands on our girls again
3) getting their big, whole-life-history file
4) getting their visa approval

So pictures don't always turn out great from the window of a plane (whodathunk), but the blue snakey thing waaaaay off in the distance is a part of the Nile (in probably Sudan or South Sudan)

I know you're already submitting it to NatGeo.
I got in at 10:45 last night, and I took some time to really unpack, so I wouldn't be disorganized while parenting two children who don't know me or speak English, ending up hitting the hay around 11:45. My body betrayed me and woke up at 6:15. What a jerk.

I went on a big shopping trip with our guide bc this guest house has a kitchen! And then we went to pick up the girls. I wanted to get flowers for Auntie Grace, the woman who has been caring for the girls, but my guide said (in more polite words) that she would think that was a silly mzungu thing and I should get them useful things like cooking oil and sugar instead. So I did (but the flowers were prettier than oil). 

I don't have any pictures of our meeting because I was kind of busy. Stella is very shy, but I could tell she was really happy to see me. Mirah, on the other hand, was NOT HAVING ANY OF IT. She refused quite dramatically to sit on my lap. I think a lot of it was that she was hungry and tired. She settled down when we got in the car, ate a banana, and fell asleep.

We had to go get a SIM card for a phone and an internet hotspot maker (I don't know what they're actually called) because the guest house has no internet. And I need internet to see my other kids. I, Stella, and Mirah sat in the car while my guide went into the stores. We sat in the car for no joke AN HOUR AND A HALF. It was so ridiculously hot. Poor Stella had not just beads, but drops and drops of sweat rolling down her face, down her neck, in her ears. Mirah would periodically shift in her sleep enough to wipe her face on my shirt. Luckily I "asked" if we could swing by KFC before we ran this errand. Stella and I ate some chicken (she likes ketchup!), then Mirah woke up, ate some chicken, and started yelling. Very loud, happy yelling.

You guys, my house is going to be so. loud. :D

We finally got to the guest house, and Mirah was so freaked out. She cried when she saw her room, she cried when I went to the bathroom (even though she was in there too), she cried if I tried to get her off my lap, even to sit beside me. That sounds bad, but it is hot, you guys. I helped her calm down with the use of Color Wonder markers [Stella makes excellent circlish shapes].

After dinner (which was random but nutritious things because I couldn't quite figure out the stove), we went and played outside.
Real girls wear two headbands, sometimes with one like Geordi LaForge.
This girl has my heart, forrrrrrrreal.
Not pictured: her trying to sing the first song Stephen sung to them in December.  1,000 heart eyes emojis.
Yes, she IS this beautiful IRL. Just you wait.
I think Stella and I have already bonded because I get her, even though her temperament is very different from mine. She's shy and reserved with people, even still hardly talking with the foster home workers after two months there. But she is so curious, and she's funny and courageous. She's already started repeating words after me when I ask her to.

Mirah is totally different. She's a little spitfire. Oh my goodness, you will fall in love with her within 5 minutes of meeting her, whether you want to or not. She has such a winning personality. She's extremely charming, and she knows it.
Who run the world? Girls who wear two headbands and a necklace.
Also gorgeous, FYI.
That dress Mirah's wearing? I bought it before Stephen and I ever got pregnant, like 6 months after we were married. Yes, I've held onto it for over 6 years. I just assumed we'd have a girl. And now we have two! #noregrets
Attn: not limes.
Apparently there's an avocado tree in the courtyard, because there were all these little avocados that had dropped from the tree. We (Mirah) decided trying to throw them back into the tree was the best use of our time and minicados. It was real cute. She's so feisty.

Mirah also took some time to practice jumping(ish). Stella took time to practice twirling (sort of).

Bedtime was hard. Mirah did the same thing she did in December: freaked out when it was clear I was putting her to bed, wailing until she couldn't fight the sleepiness. It wasn't more than 10 minutes of wailing, but you guys, it's super loud. Then she'll start up again if you try to lay her down. It's okay, it's day 1 of forever. She won't be wailing every night for bed in five years.

Now I'm off to take a rag bath and GO TO SLEEP. [yes, at 9pm.]

29 January 2016

So Encouraged!

Okay, a preface: a lot can happen within a Michelle in a day.

Yesterday, we received news that the birth certificate should be done by the end of next week. Good news! I also asked for a new appointment with the embassy to file our I-600, and we got one for February 8th. Doubly good news, because it is as soon as we can be sure we have the documents, and also because it give some indication that we may not be waiting for weeks for our visa exit interview (not a guarantee, but it's the first positive sign I've seen in months that we may not have to be there, twiddling our thumbs, for weeks).

I was able to book a flight this morning for nothing more than the change fee. I'll be leaving on Tuesday, February 2nd. I'll get to see our girls on February 4th, exactly two months after we left.

I'm not sure if we'll be able to do our IOM (medical) appointment before filing the I-600, but it's okay. Since I'm filing on Monday, I'm not feeling a ton of pressure to have it done beforehand.

Seriously, no matter what, I'm getting on that plane.

28 January 2016

Still Here

I thought I would have the emotional energy today to explain what happened yesterday. I don't, so this will be about as barebones as it gets. Sorry for the lack of energy to make it appealing to read.

Stephen took me to the airport yesterday. I checked my bags, went through security, and walked to my gate (the same gate Stephen and I sat at when we left in November).

My phone plan hadn't been renewed because my autorefill was on a card that expired this month. But I didn't want to pay for a phone I couldn't use in Uganda, so I let it lapse yesterday. So, at the gate, I opened up my computer to text Stephen from GoogleVoice letting him know I was safely at the gate.

I got an email from our lawyer in Uganda, saying there is a misspelling on Mirah's official birth certificate, and that the corrected one won't be ready in time for my I-600 filing appointment. He advised that, if I wasn't already traveling, I shouldn't come yet.

This was 9:40a. The email was sent at 9:33a (our time). The plane would start boarding at 11:10a.

Here's where I stop knowing how I feel about what happened. I let those who are invested in this adoption tell me what to do, and I didn't consult my own impression, thoughts, or desires. But I rescheduled my flight (with no extra fees, thank you, United!) for February 9th (which I had to do by calling from GoogleVoice and holding our Chromebook up to my face, like a cool guy). That's really just a placeholder date. I don't know when I'm going.

But when did I start to just lie down and comply? Who even is that? My whole life, I've fought for my thoughts to be heard, understood, and valued. It's not about submitting; it's about making sure the decision I submit to is fully informed and not just someone's preference. I'm just so puzzled at my own behavior. Not that the decision wasn't the right one either; I think only time will tell that.

I was dreading going with no end date, so for that, I'm glad. I don't want to be separated from my boys (and my man) longer than I need to be. But my girls, they matter too. It's been almost two months since I've seen them. And I know changes to the adoption laws are coming soon. We can only delay so long before our adoption (and thus, our family) may be in danger.

I'm trying not to mope, but I don't want to unpack my necessary clothes, and repack them again. I don't want to do this leave-taking all over again. I am really tired. But I'm also getting ready to fight.

24 January 2016

T- 60 Hours

Honestly, the feelings I'm feeling this trip are really different from what they were when we were planning to leave January 12th. Because the boys aren't flying out with me; because I don't know how long I'll be separated; because I have to do these big, involved things "alone." I'm dreading leaving. When I've been making preparations, I've been struggling not to cry.

I don't want to leave my boys on a one-way ticket. I don't want to leave not knowing how many weeks it will be before I see them again. I know it sounds dramatic, but it's true. Even two and a half weeks is a really long time for our four year old, not to mention our seventeen-month-old. He will not understand where I am.

The only thing that has kept me from calling the airline and canceling everything are my girls. I am so ready to feel the relief of my eyes clapped on their little bodies. I'm ready to renew the bond we began to build. I'm ready to restart the process of becoming a safe person. I'm ready to cling to God during what will probably be a pretty high-output season.

I just really, really wish we could all be together. But to change the boys' flights was $3,000-$4,000 per ticket (we're talking $7,000 for them to get there & come back). If I end up staying for weeks and weeks, I'm sure they'll come for a visit after the prices go down in mid-February. But having to leave my children to go be with my children... it should not be. I'm so ready for us to be one family.

I've been praying for the process to be short, but I've felt a little check in my heart tonight. I do often want to rush things, and Jesus isn't a hurried person. So I want this to take the amount of time he wants it to take. Not one day more or less. I want the girls to have the right amount of time with me before I take them from their home country and shuffle them onto plane after plane for hours and hours into a country that looks and smells and sounds utterly different from anything they've ever known.

I don't want our days to be constantly filled with things we must do, because life won't be like that here. I want time, unstructured time with them. Time to begin to know them and begin rhythms of living together. That won't happen if I'm busy stressing out over how long it's taking to be done with. What's another week, compared to the rest of our lives together?

And I want to actually trust God with my boys; I want to trust that his grace can stretch the gap left by my absence. It highlights how much I lean on my own understanding, on my own abilities, now that the rug is being pulled out from under me.

I'm just really glad God is gracious and patient with me, that I have to leave the country indefinitely to realize that I've been relying on myself too much. You're such a good Dad, God.