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.