Monday, May 30, 2011

Tired & Less Organized...

Perhaps the stress and emotions from these past several months have finally caught up with me. I've been in a relatively constant state of "tired"... I've also rediscovered that when the world around me is in disorder (like my house or daily schedule), that I don't function well... So, I am slowly but surely "getting my act together", ha. ;-) Meanwhile, here are a few pictures of what we've been up to...
This little park is around the corner from our house here in Wake Forest. I am loving being able to walk to so many places: the park, downtown, the historic district, etc...
Another thing we are enjoying is deer watching. Our little kitchen has a breakfast area with a big window. Despite the need to trim down a giant bush, it provides a scenic view of the back yard. The other night at dinner a family of deer were in our back yard. It was so fun to watch them nibble and frolic, especially the baby deer running laps around its parents...
The deer population has likely contributed to the tick population. You will be glad to know that I am getting a better handle on controlling it, ha ha... For some reason they completely gross me out?!. Our poor Titus has been the biggest victim, though the K9 Advantix seems to help slightly. We shall overcome, ha.

Once again, walking around Wake Forest is beautiful. We love to stroll down N. Main Street and pick out which house we'd like to live in. This is a game the kids and I play. Pictured below is the Wake Forest College Birthplace Museum.

One morning last week, I awoke to this little guy...
"Mama, can I wear this?!."
"Of course!" Then we loaded up and drove less than 2 miles to another park in Wake Forest, E. Carroll Joyner Park. There are barns for the kids to run around in and lots of trails to walk or ride on...




One day, when our bikes are all in working order, we may spend a LOT of time there. The kids loved running around, as well as walking the trails through the woods. They thoroughly enjoy looking at squirrels, bird watching and imagining what other creatures may be hiding in the trees...

On Saturday, the whole family went for a stroll around the 'neighborhood'. Tony took a picture of the sign in case you'd like to read the history...
Tony had his Detroit Tigers' t-shirt on and was stopped twice during our walk. It was hilarious. First, a man driving stopped his truck in the middle of the traffic circle and asked if Tony would sell him his shirt, with all seriousness. Later, a family sitting on a porch got excited and started asking him questions about what hospital he was born in, etc...
About three quarters into our journey, the skies opened up...
So, we had a comical jog home through the middle of the seminary campus...
Later Saturday, after we'd all cleaned ourselves up, we hit the road for Charlotte. Our sweet and generous friends, the Keathley's, came to get their "grand-dog" Titus. What a blessing to have a place for our "other child" to rest while we traveled! We had to strategize the timing of our departure in order to avoid the NASCAR traffic around Concord/Charlotte area. We thankfully succeeded AND even got to enjoy homestyle cooking at Cracker Barrel compliments of a gift card provided by generous friends back in Hattiesburg...
When we arrived at the hotel, we seemed to provide additional entertainment some others who were also staying there. Ha. Both when we arrived and when we departed on Sunday, the crew sitting outside the front lobby area had no shame in counting our "little ducklings" and wondering aloud what we were thinking. They were gracious about it though and we exchanged a few laughs. I've been asked a couple times as I've run errands here, if I "kept kids as my job"... ha. I suppose I do. It's a job alright. It is a means by which the Lord is sanctifying me, and I desperately need all the sanctifying work He will give me. :-) It is truly a gift of grace to have five precious children call me mom. There are days, I confess, when all I want is a vacation. Then, inevitably, one of my children will come around the corner with a picture they've drawn and I melt. My heart swells as I remember that,

"Children are a gift from the Lord... a heritage... Blessed is the man... Joyful is the man who fills his quiver with them..." Psalm 127

Blessed indeed.
Sunday, we enjoyed worshipping with brothers and sisters at Hickory Grove Church North Campus in Charlotte. Tony preached on God's adopting of us through His Son, Jesus in Galatians 4:4-7. We met new friends, including a sweet family from Ethiopia. We also saw old friends, which was a fun merging of worlds!

After making the 2 hours 45 minutes drive home, we all nearly passed out from exhaustion (hadn't slept well in the hotel plus 2 services Sunday). Dinner at CiCi's Pizza and we were done for the night - ha.

Today, Tony starts teaching. He is co-teaching a Doctoral Ministry class all week. The kids and I have already started on summer reading activities. I'm not completely organized on this yet, but we are working on it. Something is better than nothing, ha ha.

Friday, we look forward to hosting our first Imago Dei Church core team fellowship. We appreciate your continued prayers for our team in some of the following ways:

* Safety (travel), provision and guidance on where exactly to live for those still in the process of making the move here (a few have or are moving here from out of state)

* Location, as well as the provision for a place to start meeting in at the end of the summer

In a recent survey, we were told that less than 17% of Raleigh was considered evangelical. As I was out on an errand the other day, I was asked what brought us to Raleigh. When I responded, this man made no attempt to veil his cynicism towards us...
* Please pray that God would mobilize the Body here for His Name sake and draw souls to Himself.
* Pray that we would have boldness to proclaim His love and mercy toward us.
* Pray for hearts to be receptive.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Past Two Weeks...

What a whirlwind...
There is just too much to recap from the past couple of weeks... Here are some pictures and short commentaries to give you an idea... ;--)
Saturday: Thanks, Neva, for the giant marshmallow smores! The kids had a blast (mama too) devouring the sticky chocolate delicatessen, ha...


Sunday: Mothers Day in our Hattiesburg home... my 5 (and a half) kids...
We had house church family worship together... it was all I could do to keep from crying when our kids belted out, "You are stronger, Your are stronger, Sin is broken, You have saved us, It is written, Christ is risen, Jesus you are Lord of all!"...
Tuesday: A day before the moving company arrived was parent/teacher conference day and lunch with mom for Victoria's class...
Eyasu (a.k.a. Joshua;-) had lunch at the same time, so I enjoyed a 2 for 1...


Victoria loves Ms. Yonge...
Eyasu loves Mrs. Waites...
Eyasu, "Take picture with my friends..."

Eyasu wanted to bring Mrs. Knight with us to NC... he loves Mrs. Knight :)
Wednesday: Angela got to spend one last afternoon with her sweet friend, Olivia, while the movers were busily packing us up... What a busy, busy day... stirring up all sorts of dust, allergies and sinus trouble ;0)
Thursday: Moving Day. The day started with (aside from dropping the kids off for their last day at school) our dog, Titus, snagging his dew claw (?) in all his anxiety with the move. His whining prompted a 8 AM trip to the vet. It worked out well to have him sedated and cared for there (removing the claw) while other errands needed to be run. Here are some random pictures of picking the kids up at the primary school. Unfortunately, I forgot to pull out my camera to snap some at the lower and upper elementary schools... ;-(



We stopped back at the house one last time for the kids to say goodbye to their rooms...


I wasn't prepared for the shower of tears when we pulled out of the driveway...
How deep the Father's love for us, how vast beyond all measure that He should give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure...
We made it Thursday night to Birmingham and we able to connect with some special friends: Jana Lombardo and Donna Houston of Lifeline Children's Services. I'll never forget the Friday morning phone call from Jana saying, "Are you sitting down? You need to be in country by Tuesday!" In other words, "The time has finally arrived for you to travel to Ukraine to adopt your children!" Ha ha... Normally you get a little more warning than just 3 days! In HIS time... So grateful for Lifeline and their ministry!
Friday: We enjoyed breakfast at our hotel with friend Jonathan Howe before hitting the road for Kentucky... Titus, all bandaged up, is a good little traveler...
Of course, we had to stop at a Dairy Queen along the way... ;0)
We made it to Tony's parents' house late afternoon so grateful...
Saturday: We drove up to Georgetown, Kentucky to watch Tony's nephews play baseball and soccer. Titus stayed on my lap most of the time nursing his wound.
It was a rainy day. The little kids retreated to the van. Eyasu and James joined cousin Beniam, following his game, for some tag in the rain. The girls stayed in our van and took turns braiding each others hair...
Fighting a sinus infection and damp chills from the rain...
...but, it was so worth it to see family, let the cousins play and watch the ball games! (Below: our view of Manny and Adam's soccer game from the van:)
Sunday: An incredible day of worship and celebration of new life. Nephews Noah and Adam shared two songs in the service... loved it.
Tony preached on Mark 8:27-38...
Cousins huddled together...

Tony had the honor of baptizing his dad. What a sweet day of celebration, worship and fellowship. There aren't really words to share the joy felt.
(Below: Pastor Jake, Tony's dad Gary, and Tony)
After celebrating with Mexican food for lunch (of course), we hit the road for Wake Forest, North Carolina. The Lord graciously granted a smooth trip, both from MS to KY via AL and KY to NC via VA. Two neat driving experiences: the very minute we crossed into Virginia my phone rang with my Dad on the other line. I laughed when I answered telling him where we were, to which he responded, "Well, I just wanted to call and welcome you to Virginia." Ha ha. (VA is where my parents live :). Secondly, when we crossed the North Carolina state line through the mountains on I 77, there was a huge rainbow. It felt as though the Lord was giving us another mark of affirmation in His call to NC. We made it around 11 PM EDT.

Monday: Move in Day... 8 AM EDT came early, but we were excited. :) Shane & Alicia Shaddix came to watch our kids for several hours. What a blessing...
James stayed with us to help. He had a blast running the dolly with boxes up and down the hill. He slept well that night (ha ha)... The truck was done by 3:30 PM and we all took a nap!
Some of the SEBTS staff welcoming us to the house. I just had to take a picture, ha. Tony is in good company :)
The kids were helpful. At times. Ha. Oh what fun empty boxes can be!
The days blur together from this past week...
A trip to Red Robbin Restaurant for dinner and Goodberrys for dessert with the Akins. What a treat!
Titus is especially enjoying our window bench seating area at the kitchen table. He, the rotten dog that he is, can jump up and join us for our meals?!.
Here's a glimpse of the house making its way to order... (Many thanks to Penny Keathley for helping get the kitchen unpacked!!! Thanks to Anna Harvey helping with all sorts of projects in the rest of the house!)


The kids are settling well and really enjoying the little nooks and crannies in this house... particularly the high closet space in the girls' room...
The boys are awaiting bunk beds, but this room has good wall space to set up the dresser/desk/shelves that Mack & Vickie Grubbs gave us a little while back in Hattiesburg. It is perfect!
Sitting down for our first homemade meal together. Tony is showing off his special Kentucky soda called Ale 8, ha.
Saturday morning we walked downtown for the Farmers Market. I love being able to walk downtown from our house! Historic Wake Forest is beautiful!
[Our only downside at present, is getting the tick population around our house under control. So far I have pulled off 6 ticks (they've come two by two on Jana, James and Tony)... plus the dog's colony. Who knew I'd get a crash course on tick management? Yikes. Spray and bush trimming are on the to do list...]
Sunday, we enjoyed visiting Vintage 21 church in downtown Raleigh. We are grateful for their friendship and partnership in the Gospel. After church, we joined friends, Tom & Cindy Asta, for lunch at their house. While we were there they received a Skype call from their two girls in Uganda they plan to adopt and bring home this summer. It was special to be able to share the joy of that moment with them. Please pray for them as they wait and prepare...
Sunday evening, we made a quick run to Smithfield's BBQ to take food to our friends who drove in from Hattiesburg, MS Saturday night. We are excited to have Donnie & Meghan Hollis and Michael & Alex Britt be a part of Imago Dei Church! The kids had fun invading their new apartments :)
Here's a video of Tony baptizing his father...
video
It's almost midnight here as I close out my post. Thank you so much for your continued prayers as we settle in to this new season. We are so grateful for you...