Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Celebrating 65 years!

To the coolest dad ever...
Happy Birthday!
"Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life." - Proverbs 16:31
video
I'm thankful you:
- made family time a priority when we were growing up, including family vacations when we were able
- showered us, your children, with unconditional love and patience
- are a faithful husband to mom and helped care for us after coming home from work, thereby giving mom a reprieve (because, let's face it, four kids and girls for that matter is a handful:)
- established the discipline of eating dinner together as a family (this is still one of my most cherished memories: sharing stories, laughter and serious conversation together)
- modeled Christ for us in many ways including your steadfast love for us all, provision, peaceful home, taking us to church, hospitality towards others and incredible generosity
- shared the Gospel with us in word and in deed

This list could go on and on...

God is so gracious to us.

I love you!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Weekend with IJM

TUESDAY
I call these two "double trouble"... of course, they're not really :-)
This guy has been particularly clingy and child #6, ha...

A little pre-dinner family ball game...
WEDNESDAY
Shauna, Titus and I hit the road after lunch to stay with my parents before a busy weekend with International Justice Mission. I took Titus in order to leave one less child (or "thinks and acts like he's a child") for Tony to have to care for in my absence...
Exploring the beautiful backyard...
Meanwhile, back in North Carolina for dinner... strategic leftovers...
Mom and Dad took us out to dinner in downtown Fredericksburg to:
It was delicious AND we got to see friends from years ago... added blessing. Had to pose in front of this humorously named tattoo parlor...
Of course, you can't go to downtown Fred'burg and not get Carl's Ice Cream?!. So good!
THURSDAY
Off to Base Camp...
After an informative time of hearing failures and successes from some great partner churches, we went out for dinner and debrief...
FRIDAY
Woke up to this view from our hotel...
And this reminder...
Finished up with the Church Partner Summit and headed upstairs to the Advocacy Leadership sessions... Great to hear updates and see friends...
Meanwhile, back on the home front... Tony picked the kids up from school a little early and hit the road for grandparents in Virginia... After some back roads from traffic, he dropped some exciting kiddos off at mom and dads, jumped in the car with Matt and headed up for IJM's Global Prayer Gathering. Here is our fabulous group of folks who participated from Imago Dei:




After an incredible time of hearing updates from the field, spending time in musical worship with Sara Groves, meditating on God's Word and interceding on behalf of the oppressed worldwide... we were spent... filled up... overwhelmed... poured out...

"Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." Romans 8:26

SUNDAY
Everyone headed back down to North Carolina late Saturday night except Ellen and this little one... Whenever possible, we try to have some special one-on-one experiences with each of our kids. Her turn...
We attended the Advocacy workshop on Sunday afternoon together. She was so good and a treat to have with me...
Sunday evening, back in NC, Tony had to speak to the Board of Visitors. Sweet Jillian watched my other four kiddos while he was out. This picture's instructions were "Brush your teeth while acting like a monkey!" Ha ha...
Meanwhile, here's a glance of my Sunday night at my parents' kitchen table... reviewing my notes...
MONDAY
Bright and early morning for Ellen and I... catching the 6:18 AM train up to DC. Was fun to see family friend, Frank Connors, on board making his commute. It was especially fun to see his expression of "what are you doing here?!." His dear daughter and friend of mine, Noelle, and I used to commute to DC together back in 1998 when I worked there. Memories... Aging myself a little... Oh my...
Beautiful day in the District. Union Station:
Our nation's capital:
The group of IJM advocates (If you look closely, you'll see my eyes as I'm on my tip toes far left:)...
Final preparations at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation (our home base) together...
And off we went!
We had some fabulous meetings with staff on the Hill regarding the need to pass S. 1301 (TVPRA-Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act), particularly in this office:
Afterwards, I received text from dad from breakfast back at their house: (maybe just a little spoiled)...
After two productive meetings on the Senate side, we headed over for one last meeting on the House side. Another great meeting coupled with the opportunity to meet the congressman from Ellen's district who had recently spoke on the Floor on the issue...
We hit the pavement back over to catch the 12:55 train back to VA... but not without snapping a few pictures beforehand... Library of Congress:
Supreme Court building:

Union Station from another angle, ha...
Mission accomplished...
A little iced latte to add caffeine and something cool in the 90 degree heat... it was time to shed the blazers...
Enjoyed a little snack at mom and dads before driving home to NC... BBQ and chocolate face...
Ellen snapped this on our drive back...
Again, "meanwhile" back at home, Joshua was gearing up for his first baseball practice...
He was ready...
Excited and quite adorable...
TUESDAY
Back at home and attempting to settle back into routine. My morning jog was a challenge (ha), but a good time to begin processing everything from my eventful week(end). So much to take in and think through. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to have participated in all of the above. I hope to share ideas and challenges in the weeks ahead for those of you who are interested in learning ways to do something. In the meantime, here are two resources:

1-Tony's sermon last Sunday (as IDC works through the book of Exodus)

2-International Justice Mission's website
"If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in." Isaiah 58:10-12

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Egg Hunt 2012

James' Baptism (audience view)

James Baptism (View from Behind)

Easter Weekend

We decided to drive back from the beach Thursday evening so we could wake up in our own beds and prepare for the weekend. Here's the happy crew of travelers...
Tony took our girls Friday at noon to the IDC G3 sleepover (Imago Dei Church Girls' Growth Group). Meanwhile, I took the boys out for some chips and salsa, as well as errand running...
Friday evening, we dropped the boys off with friends and a babysitter (thanks again, Tiffany!) while we enjoyed an incredible night of worship and food: a Seder dinner at the Haugh's. It was a rich night. One of the most memorable Good Friday's I've ever experienced...

Later, we traded boys with the Sigmons: James stayed with Caleb
And Abraham stayed with Joshua
Saturday morning, Shauna and I hosted some IDC ladies at the Olde English Tea Room in downtown Wake Forest.

Judah was our token gentleman and behaved as one!
Grateful for these ladies...
We ALL took Saturday afternoon naps and then had project time: decorating eggs
James and papa building a bird house...

Before dinner, my Girls on the Run girls came with me on my jog (I'm halfway through my couch-to-5K training!)...
After the kids were in bed, I pulled out our dollar store baskets from 3 years ago and put a few items in them for their Easter morning surprise...
Stuffed a few eggs to hide (which Titus had to inspect)...
Then my parents arrived with Joy dog in tow!

Resurrection Sunday

Three years ago on a Friday (April 3, 2009), we received our phone call to be in the country of Ukraine for our appointment with the SDA the following Wednesday (April 8, 2009). On that day, as you know, the blessed reality that "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD" in Isaiah 55:8 washed over us anew. We had made our plans but our gracious God had established our steps to adopt four precious children from Ukraine. On that day, our eyes beheld our oldest son (and his siblings) for the very first time. This is the exact picture we saw:
Pre-worship breakfast at Panera Bread with papa...
Our IDC family celebrated two baptisms: Kensley
And James.

I tried to get all my tears out before but there were a few left... tears of joy. One day I hope to be able to post his video testimony that was presented beforehand... I have two home made videos I'll post below: one from my vantage point (at the keyboard on stage, i.e. behind them) and one from a friend seated.
After an amazing worship service, we enjoyed fellowship and food! Our growth group gathered for a few minutes to pray together. Judah is telling us to "shhh". Ha.
James loves his PopPop/Dedushka...
Family pictures was quite an ordeal afterwards. Here's a glimpse... interestingly, it was the girls who had to wait on the boys this time! Usually, it's the other way around.



Joshua was still tying his shoes...


Sun and shadows make things challenging...






PopPop started taking more artistic shots, so I followed behind him...




Tony had to get one snapped too... ha ha...
Time to change and search for Easter eggs!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Currently Reading
Just for fun I thought I'd include what I am currently reading. My mom met the author at Langley AFB and purchased her book. It is a captivating, gut-wrenching read and one I would recommend. Here's the synopsis...

"Swept from their industrious life of learning and enterprise in Phnom Penh, the Ky family was driven, along with millions of others, into the Cambodian countryside to fulfill Pol Pot's vision of a communist, agrarian society. Angkar, not a person or a political party but rather a goal, a zeal for the Communist ideal, a name for the collective effort, replaced the warm family life the Ky's had thrived in.

With an army consisting largely of illiterate, impoverished youth, easily incited to gratuitous, hateful violence against the relatively wealthy city dwellers, in the pattern of Stalin and Mao, Angkar began reshaping Khmer agriculture with forced labor. No measure of terror or bloodletting was spared for the sake of the goal. All the accomplished, influential people were sifted out so as not to spoil Angkar with their experience or education.

Employing barbarism so alien to the gentle Khmers, who hardly knew what was happening, Angkar stumbled along fruitlessly until the military intervention by neighboring Viet Nam ended the insanity and brought it all to light. This is the incredible, true stoy of the faith, endurance and courage it took to survive and escape THE SIEVE OF ANGKAR."