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The Potter's Shed!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pacifier Giggly Girl

Here she is playing her favorite game. We were still in Ghana and it was so much fun hearing her laugh!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Family is Whole Again

Yes, we are finally home! Baby L and I arrived home late last Friday night (March 20th) to adoring siblings and relieved hubby. You can check out our homecoming story and photos, as well as some notes and photos from our first week home.

It is good to be home!

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

My blogger friend, Jessica, has this great blog: Homemaking Through the Church Year and she is hosting a fantastic Lenten Carnival. She's done this before, but missed a year while having twins last spring. Oddly enough, that year I hosted a carnival called An Anglican Family Lent. Well, this year, I'm out of the country and she is back to hosting her Lenten Carnival again!

Hey, maybe next year we'll team up and have a HUGE carnival! :) Until then, go check out her carnival there are lots of submissions and they look GREAT!

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Getting ready for Good Friday

Last year on Good Friday my family hosted a "Way of the Cross" (or Stations of the Cross) for children and families in our home. It was really well-recieved with some 20 families (church and homeschool friends) coming to participate. I'd hoped to do it again, but with the extended African stay and a newly adopted infant in the house, I'm hesitant. I've thought about doing at our church office's chapel, however, there is something very comfortable for the participants about having it in one's home. So, I'm thinking it over.

Perhaps you'd like to consider doing this with your family, church and community? I started by planning this about a month out, so you've got time to do it! Next I determined how many stations and which ones. (Different traditions have different numbers of stations - some based solely on direct scriptural references and others on traditional church teachings. Enjoy the freedom here to select the ones that will meet your audience's needs.) I also decided what type of artwork I wanted to display and what object lessons I'd include. Finally, I found resources for devotional readings for each station.

Everyone who came was really blessed by the experience and so was my family!

Here are quick links to those posts:
The initial planning
Choosing the artwork and the stations
Devotions for a Way of the Cross for Children
Good Friday's Way of the Cross for Children
Sitting Shiva for Jesus

Are you planning a Way of the Cross, or other special event, for you family or church?

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The Unexpected Lent

This year's liturgical seasons have managed to catch me offguard. I tried to skip Advent, Christmas was a blur, and Epiphany was spent preparing for and traveling to Africa. The cycle has rolled on to Lent and again I'm caught unprepared. I mean - even this post is a few weeks late!

So, here I am in Africa.

About a week ago, I realized that this has been a Lenten journey, and in fact will most likely be a journey of just over 40 days: a time of prayer, fasting, and deprivation, but also of the joys of doing without and reliance on God's grace. A time of seeing how the majority of the world lives (seeing it, not truly experiencing it). A time of feeling far, far from "home" - spiritually and physically. A time of realizing that I really don't have as much control over my life as I'd like to think.

Early on we learned about the general African meal plan options: "010" (only a mid-day meal), "001" (only an evening meal), and "101" (breakfast and dinner). The heat saps your energy mid-day and seems to drain your appetite with it. So, we found ourselves suddenly on the "101" meal plan for quite a few weeks. Eventually, we managed to switch it up a bit, but eating more than two good meals still feels a little extravagant. If anything a very light lunch (of plantain chips or nuts and dried fruit) seems to do us just fine. I realized, "Hey, I'm fasting."

Everyday is a question as to what services we will have - will there be adequate water to bathe or do laundry? Will the internet (our vital and only connection with home) be operating? How about electricity - will it go out intermittently today? This last one is the least of our worries as travelers - most good hotels have back-up generators, so really, we haven't gone without electricity for more than a fifteen minutes or so. But it is disconcerting to wait and hope the generator does kick in...especially when sitting at a dining table in the pitch black! We are learning to do without something each day. And truly, these are minor situations. Well, maybe not the water when it is the 3rd day in a row with no real bath (remember we spend most of our days hot and sweaty unless we spend the entire day in our rooms which is miserable).

I've been challenged by wondering how much I really trust God to work out this situation. I know that he can...but waiting on his timing is difficult, especially when I see my kids getting more and more desperate to have their family reunited...and now that hubby is finally home, seeing my sweetheart having to deal with all the "catch up" of us being gone a month.

I've also learned a lot about how quickly I disintegrate into pessimism when the roadblocks begin to mount - of course that might be exacerbated by homesickness, cabin fever, and cultural adjustments.

We've done without so many things that make us feel comfortable and "at home": internet, freedom to come and go as we please, clean and crisp clothes (let's talk about how lovely a dryer is and how it nicely re-tightens fabric stretched out by humidity and sweat), and reliably getting what you want to eat or drink (I don't mean filet mignon here, I mean things like: coffee or a nice over-easy egg).

I don't mean to kvetch here - there have been many bright spots, just as there are in Lent. I've gotten to spend a month here with hubby getting to know our new daughter. We've also developed a friendship (tested by fire, trust me) with the other adoptive parents. This will be wonderful for both girls as they grow up. And now with Erik back home, I get a little more one-on-one time with L. It is hard at times (like when I MUST hold her while I'm trying to wash my hair in the laundry in the sink...get dressed, etc), but I think (and have been reassured) that I will look back on these days as a "blip". Or maybe a "bleeeeeeeeeep" - just a tad longer than a blip.

I've also discovered that having hours to sit and ponder doesn't necessarily help me gather my please forgive me if this is disjointed. It is what it is. I feel out of sorts and it is evident in this post, is it not?

Blessed Lent to you all - include our family in your prayers, if you are inclined! Specifically, that we would be uneventfully reunited on March 20th!

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Friday, March 6, 2009

7 Quick Takes: Stuck in Africa!

Our 2 week adoption trip has turned into what will most likely be a 6 week adventure...if I'm lucky - and thus, the theme of my 7 quick takes today.

It is truly amazingly hot here. Really - like Africa hot. Even though the temperatures are not exceedingly higher than what we experience at home in North Carolina, the sun is much stronger and the heat is unrelenting. While here, I've realized that while it gets hot at home, we don't really have to deal with it as much at home - all our stores are air conditioned, our cars are air conditioned, and we have whole house air conditioning (not just a room or two).

The past 4 weeks we have had to live day in and day out with a great deal of uncertainty: when would we get our approval, when would we get our visa (still a question), will there be electricity tonight, will there be water to take a bath or do laundry tomorrow, will our food arrive in the next hour, and so on. It teaches you to make do and live without holding too tightly to your own schedule.

There are many sides to life in Ghana today. We've seen the extreme poverty that one often imagines in Africa, stayed in an area of lower to middle class apartments (our first guest house), currently staying in an upper middle class area (our second guest house), and we will soon enjoy another visit to Coconut Grove and its "upperclass" treatment. While there are areas that have no basic services (water, electricity, etc) within the city and outlying areas, there is also a very nice, modern, western-style mall. It is a culture of contrasts as it grows and strives to become a successful African democracy.

The local cuisine is really delicious - at least to me! I'm a fairly adventurous eater, so others may not feel the same way...but I've enjoyed it all: Banku and Okra Stew, Jollof Rice, Red Red, Piri Piri, and LOTS of good fresh fish.

"Obruni" - wow, who knew we'd get so much attention as "white people" (that is what "Obruni" means). The white mamas and black babies cause a big stir wherever we go. It is good natured curiousity usually, but the staring and pointing and shouting of "Obruni" is tiresome after a while. It is hard to be "on display" and watched so much. It is part of international adoption (and transracial adoption) to suddenly be "conspicuous", but that is all the more so here!

The longer I stay here, the more I want to come back...but only so long as I can leave when I want to! We've had some major hurdles getting L's visa (and the other family traveling with us and adopting a similarly aged baby have, too). While I respect and appreciate the US's desire to make sure all adoptions are "clean", there is some disrespect being shown by the US Embassy for Ghanaian government's ability to do this in ways that make sense within their culture and legal system. I may post more about this when I return home as it is a long and involved story. We do believe that once our birth mothers' passports are completed (should be in 5 business days), we will be able to complete the US Embassy's requirements for evidence and we will recieve our visas! AND WE CAN GO HOME!

Thankfully, hubby has gone ahead and headed home to be with our other three kids. A month is just too long to be least unexpectedly. I feel so much better knowing he'll be there soon. We expect that I'll have L's visa in about 10-12 days and should be able to leave on March 18th or 20th - depending on when we get the visa in hand. I'm not really looking forward to the 10 hour flight with my wiggly (she's amazingly strong and squirmy!) baby on my lap. But we'll manage!

Today is Ghana's Independence Day. I'm hanging out with L (who is having her morning nap - the only way I can manage any typing!) with the Independence Day ceremonies on the television. The uniforms make me wilt just looking at them.

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