Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Party

We celebrated Miss Phoebe Kate's 4th birthday with A Very Hungry Caterpillar party! Aunt Christin came all the way from the United States just to help us celebrate her birthday and make it a special day for her :) We are so blessed with amazing friends and family in the US and in Haiti who joined us to celebrate! 

PhoebeKate- 4 years old 
Phoebe Kate and her Aunt Christin.
We love you so! 

Cupcakes of the Very Hungry Caterpillar
(props to Aunt Christin for doing such a wonderful job!!)
Yummy fruit, cupcakes, and party favors for our guests! 
A reading of "A Very Hungry Caterpillar"
The kids LOVED it! 

Craft time: Making their very own caterpillars 
Blowing out that 4th candle! 

Sweet girls and their lollipops.
Phoebe Kate had such a great birthday! Thank you so much to each of you who came... we enjoyed celebrating with each and every one of you. Each person plays such an important role in Phoebe Kate's life and we couldn't imagine life without you. 

I love you so much, sweet Phoebe! So excited to see what your fourth year of life holds for you and for us as a family! Keep growing, learning, and trying new things. You are so loved!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oh Happy Day!

Today makes one year for us as a little family! Oh happy day!!! I'm not sure why but it feels like such an accomplishment to have made it through our first year together :)

Here are some pictures from our "gotcha day" last year.

Phoebe Kate with her first dad before heading to PauP.
Our friend, Chrisnet, took Phoebe Kate to his sisters in PauP where they fed her, bathed her, and got her ready to meet me. Those sweet pink ribbons and that dress.... Oh my. She looked so precious! 
Flying into PauP last year was one of the most exciting but nerve wrecking moments of my life. I was so thrilled to be walking the path that the Lord had set before me but I was scared. I was nervous for us.  I was nervous about the transition that we would both experience... knowing that Phoebe Kate's transition would be full of loss, confusion, and fear. 

Adoption is beautiful. Redemptive. God's idea. But it is SO. VERY. HARD. Phoebe Kate had no idea what was going on. She was scared. I mean wouldn't you if someone had just taken you away from your home(orphanage), friends, nannies... and everything that was familiar to you? 

She walked up to me at the airport and held her arms up almost as if she were relieved to see me. She held on so tight. When we got into the car she began to cry and whispered "can you take me back to the orphanage?". My heart sank. I tried to console her the only way I knew how... sing to her. So much was going through my mind as I sang and watched her little eyes close as she drifted off to sleep. Phoebe Kate had indeed been rescued, but she didn't see it as a rescue. To her it was loss of everything she had known. And while I knew that this was ultimately what was best for her that still did not change the element of loss and grief that she was walking through. -- During that long 2 hour commute to our final destination I began to understand our Father's heart for me as his daughter in a way I had never before. How many times in my life have I been so overwhelmed with the loss and grief that I couldn't see that God was leading me into His best for me? I don't think He discredits our loss and grief... but very much like the mother of a scared little girl... wants to comfort us and reassure us that we are loved and in His hands. 

"I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out-
plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for."
Jeremiah 29:11 (The Message)

This picture was taken February 26, 2012.
 My how we have come so far in just one year my sweet girl!
 I cannot wait to see what 2013 will hold for us :) 

Happy One Year, my Phoebe Kate! You are with your forever family and we love you so! I am hopeful for what the Lord will continue to do in our lives in 2013 and as we embark on our 2nd year as a family. Even though we are not seen as a family legally at this time, I love you more than I ever thought I could love another person and I am committed to be your mommy in Haiti, in the US, or wherever else the Lord takes us :)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Break Every Chain

I can hardly believe that it has been a year. It seems like yesterday that we were waiting to hear..waiting to rejoice...waiting to explode with praise...waiting to see the power that breaks every chain in the name of Jesus.

You see... until this day one year ago... Phoebe Kate was a prisoner. She was not allowed beyond the walls of the orphanage and the orphanage was no longer processing adoptions. This meant that if a biological relative did not intervene then she would grow up in an institution. Exilien (Phoebe's first father) had previously attempted to remove her but the pastor refused to relinquish her back into her father's care.  We knew that Exilien would go to the orphanage and fight yet again to remove his daughter from the prison she was in and this time we would be joining him in this fight. We believed that we were not battling flesh and blood but rulers and powers of this dark world... so we fought with him in prayer. For it would be His will and by His hands that she be released but by our faith and praise to Him that He would be glorified! We pleaded with the Lord to break the chains that bound sweet Phoebe up so tightly. My family, friends, co workers, and many others prayed for her release and stood in battle with Exilien on February 24, 2012.

Chains were indeed broken! He is so faithful, friends! Phoebe's release was a direct result of the grace and faithfulness of our Father.

Phoebe Kate & Chiwelle after their release. 
I received a phone call that afternoon from my dear friend, Chrisnet Fertilus. The first words out of his mouth, "We have the victory! God is faithful, my friend!"

God's faithfulness in Phoebe Kate's life is absolutely beautiful. From the very beginning of her days His faithfulness has been made known to everyone around her and this time was no exception. The King of the Universe whispered the vastness of His love for her through a valiant rescue!

She was no longer bound by the confines of an institution but in the care of people who the Lord would use to put her into her forever family. Every child deserves a chance at a family. After a lot of continued dialogue about what was possible for Exilien to take on and what would be best for Phoebe, a decision was made to place her into my care. I booked my ticket for the next morning and waited eagerly for my zone to board the airplane.

Phoebe was indeed free from the institution... but I knew she would be a very broken, scared, confused, and mad little girl. As much as I knew that this was what was best... for her to be in a family and to know the unconditional love of a mother... the orphanage was all she ever knew and it wasn't all that bad of a place to her. The other children were her friends, the nannies her motherly figures, the four walls her home, and the pack and play her bed. She had indeed been rescued by the King of the Universe but she did not understand that it was done out of His great love and provision for her. Instead all she experienced was intense grief and loss.

The chains broken on this day started the cascade that lead to many other chain breaking moments in our first year together as a family. Phoebe Kate's grief and loss has been turned into laughing and dancing! And although we still have many more chains to break, today... I stop... and remember... and I don't doubt for even a second that Jesus will indeed continue to prove Himself faithful in Phoebe Kate's life. I pray that today will always be a reminder to us that there is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain.... break every chain... break every chain. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Looking Back

As this last week has been so full of unfortunate news, unknowns, and only seems to be getting darker I am finding peace in looking back.

One year ago today, a sequence of events started that brought Phoebe Kate into my life forever. I remember the intense emotions from this day (unknowns and many fears). February 20, 2012's emotions do not differ much from the emotions of February 20, 2013. Though our situation is different the call to trust the Lord in the difficult times, in the unknowns, and in the dark days is still the same.

On February 20, 2012 my good friend Chrisnet Fertilus went with his father to Petit Careanage to speak with Phoebe Kate's birth father (Exilien) regarding her current situation. Many options were discussed but sadly enough he felt like it was not possible to bring her back into his care. This was the first time Exilien and his family learned of my heart for her and resolved to take her out of the orphanage and into my care. Another factor that was very much out of my control was that Exilien's family would be present and participate in this decision. How thankful I am that this was a decision the entire family made and is supportive of me caring for this precious girl!  I had no idea how this little meeting was going to turn out at this time last year... and still had no idea what the days to come would hold.

Chrisnet captured this beautiful sunrise on his way to meet Exilien. 

Exilien Loranvil (Phoebe's first father) & Chrisnet Fertilus

Idolecs (Exilien's brother) & Exilien. 

Had I known what was coming around the corner in just 4 short days this time last year I would have run the other way! Had I known what this day one year ago today would have produced... what the rest of 2012 would hold... I would have rejoiced but I would have wanted to run! I could not have handled what was coming...but looking back... I see the Lord's hand in each and every detail. I see how He has used circumstances and situations to mold me and make me more like His son. This is His promise from His Word: "For all things work together for the good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son so that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." Romans 8:28. 

Looking back today gives me peace. It reminds me to trust Him with the details and to place Phoebe Kate and our family in His hands. He is good and He is faithful. I choose to trust Him... no matter what the outcome. Not my will but His. This is the way to really live... 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sometimes Pictures Tell Our Story Better :)

Wow. I cannot believe that a month has come and gone as quickly as it has! We have had a very busy 4 weeks here in Thomassin, Haiti and have truly loved every minute of it! We have had friends visit, enjoyed our first Christmas together, celebrated a New Year, and started school.

The pictures tell the story way better than I could with words....

We picked Wilfete up in PauP and took him to Pizza Amour for his first EVER pizza! He also jumped on the trampoline for the first time :) Jett, Callie, & Phoebe had so much fun with our sweet friend! 
We were so blessed to celebrate our Christmas worship service at Port au Prince Fellowship with Mary Kate & Wilfete.  We have truly been blessed with such great friends! 

On one of our drives :) The beautiful mountains of Haiti! 

Phoebe Kate and I enjoyed doing little Christmas things together :) Coloring, decorating gingerbread men, decorating our house and sharing the real reason for this beautiful season. Jesus came to earth to live among us and this is the only way we could ever know Him intimately. For Him to come. We celebrate the day He gave up equality with God so that we could be saved. His birth was and is the ultimate gift to this world. What a Savior! 

Christmas Eve all tucked into her little bed :) We LOVE the blanket that our good friend, Chelita, made for Phoebe Kate! Such a sweet gift and she LOVES it! 

Christmas Eve we were invited to our neighbor's house for their Chrismas Eve celebration. They were so kind to feed us and share this special day with us. We are so blessed with kind, loving, and protective friends in Thomassin.

Christmas morning enjoying the gifts from family,  friends and "Santa". She had a blast and even one month later is still LOVING her gifts. We have been so blessed are thankful for the love that has been poured out on us! 

We were absolutely thrilled to spend Christmas with our dear friend, Wilfete. It was fun to celebrate
Christmas with him and watch his eyes light up as he opened presents that were just for him :) 

Aunt Kate and Phoebe Christmas morning 2012 

Mommy and Phoebe Kate opening her stocking Christmas morning 2012 

We went to Boutillier to see Port au Prince at night. It was a beautiful sight.
It was such a treat to enjoy the view with Kate, Phoebe, Wilfete, Rhyan & Annabel. 

Aunt Kate keeping Phoebe warm on a cool night in the mountains :) 

Phoebe is really developing an interest in books and reading. I absolutely LOVE to find her on her own enjoying a book! Makes me so happy as a mommy to see her grow in her love for reading  :) 

Some of my favorite moments with this sweet girl are at night after bathtime. She loves to get her leap pad out and her toy doll house and free play for a while before bed. 
Everyone meet Jocie :) Jocie was a gift from Phoebe's Honey that was sent to her at Christmas. Jocie is now a member of the family, too :) Memaw Ann and Ann Marie sent Jocie an LSU outfit and Phoebe couldn't wait to put it on her! Supporting our LSU Tigers from Haiti... GEAUX TIGERS!!! 

My sweet southern girl :) I love that she can rock a pair of overalls!
 She is going to fit in great on the farm with Aunt LeLe and Uncle Jesse :) 

Phoebe Kate had her first sleepover in January of 2013. Her best friend Callie came over to enjoy some time with Phoebe in her home. They play so well together and enjoyed their time together very much.
 Looking forward to having Callie over again soon! 

Callie and Phoebe Kate coloring while waiting for lunch at the Baptist Mission in Fermanthe.
This is one our favorite eating spots :) 

I can't say enough how happy we were to have Mary Kate here with us for a whole month!
 How did we get so lucky?!?!? It is amazing how much enjoyable things are when you have a friend by your side. Thank you so much for helping me with potty duty, cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, and just your support! We love you so much, Aunt Kate :) 

Our first "serious" flat tire in Haiti.
Thankful for my precious neighbors  who were so willing to step in and help! 

Sleeping soundly in the X position.  What a bed hog :) 

This was Phoebe's last day at home with Mommy before she became "a big girl" and went to school for her first day :) This day was so special to me. I spent a lot of time praying over her, her teachers, her classmates. I just had a peace that they would be a blessing to one another. Phoebe Kate's loud, likable, loving, sensitive, and caring personality will no doubt be a blessing to everyone she encounters. 

1st day of School: January 8, 2013.
Doesn't she look absolutely adorable in that uniform?!?! 

Mommy & Phoebe Kate on her first day of school. 

Phoebe Kate & her teacher Madame Paul.
She is such a sweet, caring, and kind woman. So thankful that Phoebe has her for a teacher!!
Madame Paul is not only Phoebe's teacher but our neighbor & landlord. 

Showing Mommy how she plays at school like a Big Girl :) So proud of herself.
This is day 3 of school. No more tears when leaving Mommy. She is comfortable and confident in her new environment. So thankful for the Lord continuing to break chains in her little life. We are praising Him for each new day, each new chain broken. He is so faithful! 

Phoebe's celebration of finishing her first week of school! Brownie Sundae from the Baptist Mission :) 

Also in celebration of a successful first week of school we took Phoebe for a fun day at Club Indigo with her friends Lucy & Kendall. Phoebe loves to swim and play in the sand. We also wanted to treat Aunt Kate before she had to go back to the frigid January temps in the U.S. It was a fun day for everyone :) 

Aunt Kate & Phoebe enjoying the ocean. 

La Mer 

This is another one of our fun times together after bath time. Phoebe loves to get her Leap Frog guitar and put on a show for us! I feel like her head wrap adds a whole new element to her look :) She absolutely loves music and singing! 
On Monday, January 14 we went to Phoebe's school to pick her up. Phoebe was so proud to show Mommy & Aunt Kate how she slides on the slide at her school! School has been a positive influence for Phoebe already. I am so thankful that I decided to send her. She is much more social with the people in our community already and her Kreyol/French is coming along nicely :) So thankful for this opportunity to create positive and enjoyable memories with Phoebe in her home country. 

Mommy & Phoebe (January 14, 2013)
I love to walk into her class to pick her up and see her face light up :) 

Aunt Kate & Phoebe (January 14, 2013)
I love how Phoebe's eyes are glowing in this picture. She LOVES and ADORES Aunt Kate.
We were both so blessed by her visit. Please come back soon, Kate :)

The only event that I didn't take pictures of and I regret so much, is our time with our neighbor/landlords family! We did not take any pictures Christmas Eve nor when we had them over to our house for a treat! -- They asked us a few weeks prior if we would make them some American food. We were excited at the opportunity to serve our neighbors and to share life with them so Kate and I were up for it :) We made some pretty awesome hamburgers and french fries for about 15 people!  It was so fun to have them in our home and watch many of them experience that kind of food for the first time! They were kind, thankful and respectful (even when they were not totally impressed with our hamburgers :) ). 

On the adoption front, our dossier is heading to Haiti (Lord willing) on January 25. Yay!!! But please continue to pray, IBESR is still closed and we are praying for them to reopen so they can start working on our case! 

2013 is off to a great start! I am praying that this year will be filled with the blessings and opportunities to serve the Lord here in Haiti as we continue to trust Him on this journey. He is good. And He is so faithful. So whatever 2013 may bring, we choose to believe that He is on our side and that He is working all things together for our good. 

My prayer for 2013 is that I will know His heart. May His passions become my passions and may they flow through this broken vessel. Thankful that He is making me whole.