Thursday, February 24, 2011

Out of Necessity (more or less)

we've started a new blog.

I've used up all of the space allowed for uploading photos on this site, so I thought it necessary that we start afresh.  Beginning a new chapter in our lives was another reason this seemed fitting.  

You can visit our new blog HERE, if you'd like.  

This blog will still remain; at least until we get those books made.  David did have a "blog to book" printed (from as one of my Christmas gifts.  It was such a fun present; I was definitely not expecting it!  However, it was only the first year (2008).  Hopefully I can get the other years in book form before too long.  "Scrapbooking" is definitely taking on a whole new look (though I must admit it's hard to beat the personal touch of a hand made album).  But this day and age, digital books are a great alternative to those who don't have the time for creatively documenting their memories. :)  

Well, I'll miss this little "home"; 
but it is now time to move on . . . 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Rest of the Pictures

So, I'm here in David's office again after our evening church service, and I made a few adjustments with the pictures that I tried to post last night.  There were only a few photos from our time with the Parker family showing up on the flickr slideshow.  I'm hopeful that you will be able to view the rest of them now, if you'd like.  You can click HERE - there should be 12 in all.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

God's Sovereign Grace & The Official Installment

David is with the kids right now to allow some uninterrupted time for me to post a few updates.  But I am at a loss of where to even begin.  So much is going on in our lives right now during this transition.  And without having internet access where we're temporarily living (this is not a bad thing, just inconvenient for the grandparents wanting to see their grand babies!), frequent updates aren't possible.  I've been trying to keep a list of things that I want to share, but there's just so much.  Therefore, I'll just post as I'm able. 

I thought I'd begin by documenting a bit about David's "Installation Service" last Sunday.  I guess you could say he's now officially the pastor at our new church. :) It was a very special time for our whole family - not only for what the service meant to all of us - but also because of the company we had for the weekend.  We were privileged to have David's long time dear friend, Shane Parker - who was also a key instrument the Lord used in our coming to Lake Gaston - preach during this special service for David.  In addition, we were so thrilled that he was able to bring his precious family along with him.  

The Lord used Shane mightily Sunday morning, delivering a very powerful message, along with much affirmation to my husband.  I was so thankful, and I know that everyone was blessed by him sharing Truth, as well as speaking against false expectations, with us as a church body.  Thank you, Shane, for being such a special part of this time for David.  May God bless you for blessing us.  Also, the member of the pastor search committee whom Shane first gave David's resume to, shared at the opening of the service.  He eloquently recounted the search committee's long process of looking for the one whom the Lord had ordained to be their new pastor.  It was so confirming reflecting on the Lord's providence through it all.

I wanted to share some pictures that we took from the weekend with the Parker family.  We had a blast with them, as we always do, and it was so fun seeing our children have fun together as well.  Their son, Wiley, is 4 (just short of a year older than John David), and their daughter, Evie, will be 2 before long (6 months older than Claire).  Because of their close ages, they had a lot in common, and - like I said - we parents really enjoyed watching their interaction.  

The last time that Wiley and John David were around each other was when JD was 16 months old, right before we received his autism diagnosis.  As many of you know, we found this out about our son during our missionary training in Virginia.  We stopped by the Parker's house - who were living in South Carolina at the time - to break up our road trip to VA.  Because of the circumstances where we'd been living, up until that point in his life, John David had not been around many children at all.  He was normally fine around adults and older children, but he didn't have much experience being around kids his age.  While in the Parker home, John David was fearful - without knowing how to better describe it - of little Wiley.  Though he'd watch Wiley closely, and though you could tell he was very interested in what Wiley was doing, he was nothing short of afraid.  John David would cling to us in fear and even cry (I'm talking intense tears) when he came close.  (I specifically remember the outburst when they were strapped in their seats side by side in the car.)

Once we arrived at our Virginia destination, John David was in a preschool (a first experience for all 3 of us) during the day while David and I attended preparatory classes.  Of course, after 5 weeks into our 8 week missionary training, John David's teacher - Miss Marlene (whom we give thanks to the Lord for CONSTANTLY!) shared her concern for John David's lack of desire to interact with the other children in his class.  Though John David interacted with his teachers - and they described him as being an "easy" and "delightful" - Miss Marlene said she had never seen a child his age just want to sit and watch instead of play with the other children.  Within a week, we were introduced to the terms "High-functioning autism" and "Aspergers" for the first time.  

While I didn't intend for this post to primarily be about John David, I did want to share some background so that you might understand how much we were anticipating the Parkers coming to stay with us.  We've seen how much John David has learned and grown in the past two years; one of the professionals we've recently worked with said that "he's not the same child as when we first saw him."  We agree.  But we were interested and excited about the difference between John David and Wiley's first encounter and their most recent one.

I also share a small portion of our story regarding John David to point to the Lord's beautiful sovereignty over the circumstances of our family, as well as those of our new church.  It was just about the time that the Lord held up the STOP sign for us to go overseas, that the church at Lake Gaston began their long search for a new pastor.  The Lord did not intend for us to serve in Africa at that time; He lead us to Virginia to give us insight about our precious son . . . insight that I'm confident we would not have had until much later.  Instead His plan was for us was to return home and begin receiving the services and support that our son (and the rest of our family) needed.  God's plan was also to prepare David, as well as the rest of us, for His calling on my husband for the task He had in store.  Meanwhile, the Lake Gaston church family patiently waited for almost two years for the Lord to show them the one that He had in store to be their pastor.  Though we feel completely inadequate for this position, we are so humbled and grateful for the Lord's perfect sovereignty over every detail, as well as His kindness and grace through it all. 

Well, back to John David and Wiley . . . needless to say, they hit it off very well and became big buddies in no time!  Meanwhile, David and I sat back and watched with so much joy and gratitude!!  Thank you, Father ~ You are very kind!  

And as our new journey begins, we want those of you actually reading this to know how much we covet your prayers for us.  Please pray for the Lord's wisdom and guidance as we continue to seek His direction for our own family and now our new church family.  Despite our inadequacies, we are promised in God's Word that His grace is sufficient and that His power is perfected in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12).  He is so faithful; He has been thus far, and - because He IS Faithfulness - we know He will continue to be!

In closing, if you're like me, you prefer to read a blog post that contains pictures.  (or you may not even read it at all but head straight to the pictures instead!) Because I'm having trouble uploading photos right now, you'll have to click HERE to see pictures from our time with the Parkers.  Sorry for the inconvenience.   

Monday, January 10, 2011

A North Carolina New Year

I've always loved new beginnings.  To me, a new year inevitably feels refreshing and is accompanied by excitement.  It seemed fitting that we arrived in North Carolina on New Year's Eve.  We welcomed the new year with a new beginning, in the fullest sense.

Though we didn't take any festive New Year's pictures, this one was taken on January 1st, as Claire and I ventured out on our first shopping trip to the local Food Lion. (The only local grocery store, mind you.  Don't worry though; I was born a "small town girl."  This is my kind of pace.)     

I can't believe that we are now 10 days into 2011.  I've had several conversations in which I've mentioned 2010 as being "the fastest year ever!"  I mean, it flew by! I can't imagine time passing any faster - as they say it does with age - but this year has already seemed to take off at lightening speed.

Speaking of age, my brother celebrated another birthday - as he does every year on New Year's Day.  It has always made me proud (I'm not sure why, except that most things about my brother make me proud) to inform others that he was born on January 1st.  That is pretty cool, don't you think? :)  His birthday always seems to kind of sneak up on us though, after all the Christmas festivities.  I was sad that we couldn't share in the celebration of K.J. on his actual birthday this year, but I was thankful that David got to participate in a surprise "Lord of the Rings Risk Party" (of sorts) that Lynn ~ my thoughtful sister-in-law ~ had planned for K.J. before we left.  
Happy Birthday, K.J.  I love you, and I am so proud of you.  I'm thankful for all that the Lord molded you to be, and I'm constantly amazed at the heart and mind and vision (spiritually speaking:) that He's given you; thank you for being faithful to use each of these for His glory.  I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for you and your family as you continue to pour out and serve and seek His face together.  I'm so thankful for the years that we lived under the same roof and/or resided in close proximity.  Blessings on another year of grace, my brother.

Well, as far as life for our family, things are going very well.  Though they are on the mend now, the kids have been sick since our arrival.  But, you know, I've really seen it as a blessing.  I think it's made for a calmer, more relaxed transition than it would have been otherwise, had they been 100% and ready to go.  It's caused us to stay inside and take it easy.  Despite their little bodies aching, I do think it was the best thing for them.  The Lord knows, of course.

Our church family here is already taking great care of us.  We've had fresh, homemade bread and muffins delivered - as well as homemade hot chocolate mix -  along with 2 dozen fresh eggs and a container of homemade chicken soup.  We've been so appreciative, and I've got a lot to learn from these domestic women!     

The ladies of the church hosted a Welcome Reception for me yesterday, and it was absolutely delightful.  I felt so honored and humbled.  They assuredly showered me with a warm, gracious welcome, and each lady brought a favorite recipe to share with me.  I've got lots of new things to try!  (I know David is thankful :)

Today was our first "official" Sunday at church as a family, so here's our "first Sunday" picture.
(pardon my "mid-sentence" smile)

We were planning on this noteworthy "first" occasion being last Sunday, but the sickness kept the kids and me away.  All throughout the day, David and I were continuously giving thanks to the Lord for how beautifully the children did today at church.  John David just walked right into his new classroom full of new faces, and he participated and had a great time!  And Claire has never had a better drop-off at the nursery.  She even was taking a nap when I went to pick her up.  I honestly was a bit in shock at the smoothness of it all.  The Lord is so kind, and His grace regarding the children this morning was so confirming that we are exactly where He wants us.
Here are a few "Daddy/Daughter First Sunday" pictures.  My little girl is very expressive . . . well, just like her daddy.  :)


Speaking of God's grace to the children, it's fun to watch them grow in their relationship with one another.  They were exceptionally agreeable today, and I wanted to make note of it.  John David likes to play games on the computer from time to time (well, as much as we'll let him; if up to him, he'd play all day!!), and Claire loves to press buttons, of course.  Today, John David was not bothered by Claire's presence as he intently tried to "defeat the bad guys," and I couldn't believe that Claire restrained her little fingers from touching the keys.  It was definitely a moment worth documenting.  

Well, THANK YOU again to those of you who've been praying for our family during this time of transition.  Please continue.  

We will be moving tomorrow to another home where we will be until our rental house is ready for us.  We won't have an internet connection at our next temporary lodging, though we will be able to use the internet at the church, as need be, just a little over a mile down the road.  Updates will probably be scarce over the next month, and - like I mentioned with my last "Scripture Memory Monday" - I've put aside weekly posts for the time being.  I'm going to try to update when I can and focus on getting settled in this new chapter. 

It's so late now, but I wanted to post while I could; I figured it may be the last for a while.  I'm still wanting to document about our Christmas (and loads of other things!), but I'll do that when time is allotted.  Until then, blessings to you and yours, as 2011 is well underway! 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Look Who Dropped In . . .

vigilantly of the night

If I was techno-savvy, I'd insert a nice, colorfully animated "POW" here. 

Offering a powerful right jab to the punching bag, 
Batman comes to Buzz Lightyear's aid in defeating "Evil Emperor Zerg."
(Defeating Zerg is the topic of lots of conversations these days ;) 


and then there's 
consumer of the sweet and creamy

If there's yogurt that needs devouring, she'll joyfully come to your aid!  

Not only will she singlehandedly annihilate a container of yogurt,
(with cottage cheese, or whatever other loiterers might be added to the concoction)

but her superpowers prove most effective in warding off those previously susceptible to nausea and/or a weak stomach. 

Well, I'm sure glad these super heros stopped by my house . . .
and hopefully they can stay for a while. :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Winter White Welcome

I've found it a bit difficult explaining to my 3-year-old - who's learning about seasons and their distinctions - that winter does not always bring snow.  

Before leaving Alabama, we had a few small flurries, but nothing that stuck on the ground (at least at our house).  We were thrilled - no matter how small - at the timely arrival of these flakes . . . just in time for Christmas.

You can't even tell from the pictures that it was snowing; however, if you look closely, you can see one small flake near Claire's cheek below.    

John David didn't mind the amount of snow.  
Though it was nothing to write home about, it was now officially "Winter" to him! 

He found some antlers 

and was trying to catch snow flakes on his tongue.

Well, it's been a week ago today that we left Alabama and began our venture to North Carolina.  My valiant husband conquered the voyage driving entirely through the night.  We left around 6:30 p.m. central time last Thursday evening, and we arrived around 5:30 a.m. eastern time on New Year's Eve morning.  Two cups of coffee and two "5-hour" energy drinks later, David still had plenty of energy upon our arrival.  After helping him unload the sleeping children and an essential bag or two, I joined the little ones for some more coveted slumber.  David proceeded to unload the rest of the car and somewhat organize our belongings in the place where we are staying for a while. (The house that we're renting won't be ready to move into for a little while longer, so we are currently house sitting for some church members for the time being.)  After the caffeine began to wear off and David was finally able to wind down, he had gotten about 30 minutes of sleep when both of the kids awoke.  David was very kind and gracious, and quickly suited up to show John David what was waiting for him outside. (And he even took pictures so that I could stay in the warm indoors with Claire, who wasn't feeling well.) 

There was snow, and lots of it!
 This is what still remained of the North Carolina snow from almost a week prior.
 John David was having a blast!


He was finally getting to build the snowman he'd been talking about making for weeks. 
(Well, it actually turned into more of a "Humpty Dumpty" character rather than "Frosty." The boys ended up pushing it off the side of a tall brick wall.  Poor thing!) 

snowball making

and the serious snow ball face
("like David threw at Goliath" :)

 a glimpse of a small inlet of beautiful Lake Gaston

 making snow angels

David's work of art

We've really been praying (along with some of you - thank you so much!) about this transition for all of us . . . but especially for John David.  And in all seriousness, I saw the remains of the snow as nothing short of a gift from God to help John David get excited about where he was going to be living.  The Lord is kind, no doubt, and watching my boys play in the winter wonderland outside brought me so much joy.  On a morning that could have been difficult - waking in a new, strange place, being far from family and life as he knew it, etc. - John David was overwhelmed with delight.

And would you believe the next morning outside looked like this?
I was then convinced that God let the snow remain until John David was able to enjoy it.
In a conversation with one of our church members, he even said that he couldn't believe how long the snow had hung around.  Thank you, gracious Lord, that You care about every little detail.  I will always be thankful for Your gift to my son of our North Carolina winter white welcome.