Dec 4, 2013
The past few weeks have been full, full, FULL of lots of good, hard, complicated, mundane and typical things... everyday things that add up to full hearts, busy schedules and some fun pictures to share! Here are some highlights and pics to go with them:
We had our fifth and final adoption of the year! Our chubby cheeked 7 month old was placed happily into the excited arms of her mommy last week. Our little "drama queen" must have been responding to the prayers coming at her from all around the world. Even though we had to wait for almost an hour to meet her family she was calm and quietly sucking her dummy when she met her mommy. She was a little bit sleepy which led to precious cuddles (rather than grumpy yelling) much to the delight (and relief) of all who were present! We are so thankful that 5 of our littles will be spending this Christmas with their forever families!
Once upon a time there was this little baby girl who was born premature and had been abandoned in the hospital. I fetched her at 3 weeks old and then around 3 months old she struggled with a viral pneumonia that ended up almost taking her life (see the pic above). She spent over a week in the NICU fighting for her life. Her lung collapsed and the doctors basically told me that there was nothing more they could do for her. Since she was in the NICU I could only visit her for a few hours each day and she was so ill that I began to pray that if the Lord was going to take her home that I would at least be there so she wouldn't have to die alone. One day while I was visiting she started to have trouble, so much so that they had to bring in the crash cart and call for the doctors but she pulled through! Then the next day she took a miraculous turn for the good and started to get better. Eventually she was released with a clean bill of health! When I visited I spent my time singing, reading scripture and praying over her little body. I feel like God had given me Psalm 27 for this little one and I had always wanted to write a letter to be added to her file so that she would know of the miracle that God preformed in her and how her life had bolstered my faith in God's ability to do more than we could ask or imagine in the lives of His kids. Sadly, life got busy, I left Door of Hope and even though I thought of baby K often I never took the time to write a letter. Fast forward to 3 weeks ago. When I was picking up our newest baby I ran into two folks from Door of Hope who were picking up two littles for themselves who casually mentioned that baby K had been adopted the day before! I was super excited to hear that she had found a forever family to call her own and that night I decide to write the letter I'd meant to write so long ago. I sent it though to the adoption agency and they passed it on to the family! A few days later I received a call that if I had time the family wanted to meet me so they "could show me how good" baby K had grown to be! Last week I had the privilege of meeting up with them in Pretoria and share our story in person. It was such a blessing and a divine moment set up by the Father. I truly believe that God wanted this baby girl and her family to know of the miracles He has already performed in and through her life! I believe He wanted her to return to her home in Europe with Psalm 27 tucked in past so that she can draw strength from its promise in her future. I was able to bring her a "Bible Book" and spend time with this new family unit, reveling in her toddler self and the bond that already exists between mommy, daddy and sweet baby girl!
We've been enjoying the rainy season of summer here in Lanseria. We've been getting this amazing thunder and lightening storms complete with torrential rain, howling wind and pelting hail! Just the other night I came home in the midst of one of these crazy storms only to find a cat family had sought refuge in my bed! I spooked the mom, who ran off leaving her littles behind! I was tempted for maybe 2 minutes to keep them inside but then the logical part of my brain took over my compassionate heart and I eventually was able to tuck them safely into Thabisa's uninhabited kennel in a dry area of the porch. In the morning mommy had already rescued them from the kennel and they've been spotted safe and sound on the property near the preschool since. If I don't remember shut my sliding glass door between the rain and Thabisa I get a whole myriad of visitors once the rain starts... rain spiders, park-town prawns, thousands of flying insects, 1 bat, 1 baby bird and now a family of cats. I'll take a herd of cats over 1 park-town prawn any day! if you don't know what they look like and want don't want to sleep for a week you can check them out here: http://www.rentokil.co.za/blog/parktown-prawn/ They are my least favorite bug to date! Ick!
I've been having a good time getting to know our littlest and newest baby girl. As you can see from the pictures above she does manage to find herself in my office helping me out with day-to-day tasks! She is doing really well... gaining weight, smiling and find her voice! We are so happy to have this little mite in our family and are praising God for her growth and continued health.
We've already entered our festive Christmas celebration season here but some of us Americans were able to fit in a modified Thanksgiving last Friday night. I was introduced to a mid-west delicacy called "pickle rolls"... I had to grab a picture of this one with a face when I was making them. For some reason it made me laugh super hard! Sleep deprivation, anyone?! I've already been to two Christmas Carol services... one at City Life Church (which was awesome) and one with our preschoolers onsite. It was bittersweet to see my big girl's classmates dancing and singing without her by their side. I trust she'll put her carol memorizing talents to good use with her forever family! I've included a quick (poorly shot) video of her classmates above singing the last verse of "the reindeer pokey".
Speaking of Christmas, yesterday I officially booked my ticket to CA so I can spend this Christmas with my family! I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to afford a ticket home but God provided through the kindness and generosity of a sweet friend. If you are living in CA (or want to fly me to whatever exotic place you call home) I would love see you and share with you about what God has been doing in this itty-bitty part of this side of the world! Just email me at email@example.com and we can try and set up a time to see each other. I will also be sending out an update letter of sort, if you are not currently on my mail list (i.e. you haven't received anything in the mail from me in the last 3 years) and would like me to, email me as well.
As you enter this Christmas season, I pray that your heart will be attentive to the special and unique aspects of this season that Christ wants to share with you this year. I pray that you will have moments to bask in the holy beauty of the Incarnate Christ and all the glorious assurances His birth poured out upon humanity. Thank you for your continued prayers, support and interest in what God is doing in and through my life here in South Africa.
Much love from Nicole and the babies at El Roi
Nov 22, 2013
Today our big sister of the house went to be with her forever family. It's been over a year since she was brought up to our house and climbed into my heart forever. It was her little life that has helped me see more clearly what motherhood looks and feels like. Our big girl was like my little mirror... pointing out all my good, bad, ugly and funny parts on a daily basis. It was her growing up that helped me grow in patience, joy, love and trust.
One of the most productive parts of this hopeful adventure has been the way God has used these little people to develop within my heart a deeper sense of and trust in the sovereignty of our good and great God. His ways are always better. His love can always be trusted. He will never fail or forget. It is His heart that will always know and love these little babies best. I am thankful for opportunities to trust Him deeper. I am more than ever so exited for the day when I will get to be in relationship with these precious souls again; worshiping our Creator, enjoying Him and each other for all of eternity.
I will miss our girl's sweet little voice calling out "Nicolie" about a 100 times a day. I will miss her adorable idiosyncrasies like her daily complements on my hair and shoes, her daily delight of carrying my morning coffee mug to the kitchen sink, the way she spent her days in constant pretend play, her play-by-play reports of what the all of the Aunties were doing and her general desire to be right by my side for as much of the day as she could manage.
I was able to experience so many "new mommy-isms" alongside her: potty training, middle of the pharmacy temper tantrums, first day of preschool joy and timeouts galore. It has been so fun to watch you settle into our home and bloom into the happy, content, mindful and clever girl you've become.
Our big sister danced her way into the hearts of our Refliwe family... a favorite at her preschool and a loving big sister to all the smaller babies in our home. I know her forever family already love her and I have no doubt that she will cherished and adored in their hearts and home just like she was in ours! I am thankful to the Father and His ability to help me feel held in His love during this difficult goodbye.
I am grateful for the time I got to borrow you, my girl. I am so thankful that God saw fit to bring you into my life. You've taught me so much and I will love you always.
Praying for you today, sweetheart...
Oct 29, 2013
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
I got a new tattoo last month and it's a piece of art that has been brewing my mind's eye for over a year now. The idea actually came to when I was creating my special boy, J's scrapbook in preparation for his adoption at the beginning of 2012. At the end of his book I included one of my favorite poems by e.e. cummings:
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
I've loved this poem for years but it was when I decided to include it in J's book that I came to realize how much it represents this season of my life. In His unbelievable kindness, God has given me many specific truths that I cling to as I got about His business on this side of the world. One of those truths is expressed so clearly in the simple statement: i carry your heart (i carry it in your heart). I know that these precious babies I love will not remember me specifically but I do know that they will remember the love of Christ that came through me. I believe that a piece of my Christ-imprinted love lives in their hearts and will live there forever. Just waiting for the day when they will encounter His love in a tangible way... be it through their forever family when they are young or a chance encounter with a Christ-follower on a subway when they are grown. But on that day when they hear and understand Christ's love in a tangible way something inside will cry out, "I KNOW this Love! I've felt it before. This Love kissed my cheeks and soothed my cries, held my hand and spoke words of life before I could even speak words myself!"
My babies carry a piece of me within their hearts and Lord knows they've embedded themselves into mine. Remembered and longed for love comes back to embrace you in odd and sometimes surprising ways. I miss my babies who've left my arms. I miss J's hearty laughs and fierce hugs. I miss my Queen Bee's morning snuggles. I recount with laughter S's battles with using his sippy cup for the first time. I encourage my soul when I remember how God saved K in the NICU and gave me life-saving wisdom for M when she couldn't get warm. I miss all of the precious babies I've loved but I carry their hearts in mine. And more importantly because of our time together I trust that they carry the love of Christ in theirs.
For each of these precious children I echo Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Oct 19, 2013
Hi! How are you? I know it's been forever since we've talked but guess what? We're back!!! And we've got so much to share with you... I think the best way is to go show you bunches of pictures and tell you about them! Okay?
In August I was able to head back the USA for 3 whole weeks. It was such an amazing, busy, wonderful, full and encouraging time. There were so many highlights! I got to meet my very first niece, Hazel Drew, for the very first time! I was able to have "dates" with all 4 of my nephews... I can't believe how big each of them have gotten. I was able to share about my adventures with many of my friends over lunches and with my VBC church family on my first Sunday morning back, at the Gathering and at a Open House that my friends, the Pleau family, hosted for me. I was able to get away for a night with Allison to Napa and helped my parents pack up our childhood home in preparation for their move to Modesto. On my way back to RSA I was able to swing by for a few nights in Denver, CO. I was able to attend Carissa's bridal shower, get treated to a spa day with Lauri and the West's hosted a fantastic Open House that was really gigantic reunion in disguise! I am so blessed to be loved and supported by such a dynamic, God-honoring, faithful and beautiful family of faith. I really thank God each time I remember each of you precious people. Thank you for taking the time to connect with me and encourage my heart in God's call for my life! I will prayerfully be returning for a few weeks around Christmas so if we didn't see each other a few months ago, let's try and catch up then.
As much as I adored my time in the States I was excited, anxious and ready get back to my babies! It is crazy how even a few weeks can make such a difference in who they are. Growing ridiculously fast and making all of their Aunties so very proud of them. I hit the ground running catching up with kiddos, going on an impromptu game drive, giving lots of hugs and kisses and even fitting in time to get a new tattoo (I will share the story behind it with you soon).
I have been having a blast reconnecting with my community this side. We welcomed our newest international volunteer, Auntie Rachel, said; "welcome home" to Uncle Ryan back from the US and had to say; "goodbye for now" to Uncle Andy who is now back at school in the UK. I am continually thankful the group of people God has called to service here at Refilwe. God is at work in the world and I love getting to be in community with the beautiful assortment of folks God calls to service here in RSA and specifically here at Refilwe.
In the past few months our Father has been SO FAITHFUL to provide for our needs here at El Roi. We've had partners all of the world joining in helping care of the needs of me and our babies here at El Roi. We have friends in Holland who have officially organized a NGO to help raise funds for El Roi. City Life Church in Lonehill has selected El Roi as one of their Causes to support as a congregation. We were gifted a Pulse Oximeter by a family in US to help us keep a really good eye on any sick baby. We've had short-term missions teams visiting us from the US with suitcases full of baby gifts in tow. And last (but certainly not least) I was gifted with a financial donation from friends in CA that allowed me to purchase Eddie, my 2006, new-to-me, Honda CRV!!!
This month we celebrated our one year anniversary of being open! We also celebrated our very first baby's 1st birthday. I am truly humbled and overwhelmingly grateful to the Father for this last year of ministry in His name. Since we've opened our home we have celebrated two adoptions, first steps, our toddler's first day of preschool, physical and emotional growth and healing and supernatural gifts of favor, provision, wisdom and grace. Our hearts echo Paul's words in Romans 11:36 when his words shout: "For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen."
This past week I celebrated my (gulp) 35th birthday! It was a fun day that started off with breakfast with some girls who work in our main office, finished off with a deliciously prepared dinner and dessert with our on-site volunteers and was jam-packed with sweet birthday messages heading my way from all over the world. I am such a loved lady and I am excited for this next birthday year and all the years that our Father chooses to gift me with. Echoing Paul again I say:
I hope that we will be speaking again soon! I created a Facebook page for El Roi www.facebook.com/elroibabyhome and I typically am able to upload a few comments and pictures a couple times a week. If you are on Facebook you can visit our page, hit our "Like" button and you will receive a notification anytime I post something new. For those of you who are not on Facebook can still drop by the page and check out our happenings whenever you like!
If you've stuck though this long post... CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU!!! From all of us at El Roi, thank you for your love, prayers, and faithful support of what God is doing in our lives! We love you so, so much!
~ nicole and the baabies at El Roi
Jul 5, 2013
Happy 4th of July! What?! Where in the world did June go? I swear, I blinked and June was finished. Gone. Done. Strange. Anyways....
Happy 4th of July! Last night the Americans on site hosted a fun BBQ (that's right, bbq NOT a braai) to help celebrate the 4th. The night was complete with chili dogs, potato salad, s'mores and sparklers! We had a fun time together and got to introduce people from South Africa, the UK and the DRC (and I'm sure a few others) to a really fun American tradition. Even if it was the coldest BBQ I've ever attended it was a really wonderful night. Thanks, Megan, for the wonderful idea!!!
June was wonderfully busy and fun and amazing!
We celebrated our 2nd adoption here at El Roi at the beginning of June and it was an extremely JOYFUL placement. Both mommy and baby were literally wide-mouthed with joy. When I placed bubbly baby "L" into his excited mommy's arms their joy bounced off one another, escalating into audible squeals of joy coming from both of them! It was so fun to see and the placement went perfectly from there, with baby "L" loving being in his mommy's arms while I told her all about him.
Our newest baby girl is now 10 weeks old and doing so well. Her cheeks pretty much dominate her whole face and expressions. She is growing nicely and our pediatrician only had good things to say about her for her first well-baby check up yesterday. She is fitting in well with our family and we are excitedly awaiting our next prince or princess to arrive... any day now, I'm sure!
Everyone is growing so big! Our first little rockstar is now crawling and just this week we found him standing happily in crib when he woke up from a nap. It's been such a joy watching each little one's personalities continue to emerge and develop as they grow and learn from each other.
Our big girl continues to impress, challenge and encourage me daily. She is such a sweet big sister in the house -- comforting and helping with the small ones, recognizing their cries and giving them constant loves. She finished her 2nd quarter at our Refilwe preschool and had improved in all of her weak areas from last quarter. She can easily count to 20 on her own, can be found singing "Jesus Loves Me" and the cute days of the week song almost everyday. She is a crack up and is getting more and more verbal which is astonishing to witness. One of my recent favorites include what she says when she wants you to repeat something she says, "What say you?" So funny! Makes me feel like I'm a character in some recently uncovered unpublished Shakespearean comedy that revolves around spit up, dirty nappies, midnight feedings and vervit monkeys.
We also welcomed our very first El Roi international volunteer! Whitney has already transitioned beautifully into our home and came at the absolute perfect time. She is already handling shifts on her own and the babies adore her already. Especially our little rockstar (the one in the blue hoodie) who loves to crawl all over her! Please join me in praying for her time her... that the Lord would meet all of her needs and bless her for her willingness to come and love on our littles!
God continues to give me joy in each day. Pictured laughs above include baby yoga sessions with our rockstar and spontaneous dress up session when my girl decided that Megan needed to wear her Dutch mittens and hat. We've had some cold winter nights but in general we have been enjoying sunny afternoons and the wall heaters in our bedrooms and playroom. This past weekend was especially exciting for us at El Roi because the church I am apart of here (City Life Church) featured us in their services this past weekend! City Life has chosen El Roi to be one of the church's giving projects and have arranged some exciting support opportunities for the congregation this month. You can hear Pastor Gini sharing about us if you download the message "Jesus to the City" from 30 June at www.citylifechurch.co.za. I was able to be in both services and it was so wonderful to chat with so many people about what God is doing with His babies in our home.
In other news of God's GREAT, AMAZING, GENEROUS, HUMBLING, AWE-INSPIRING, provision many of you know that I've been dealing with a sick car named Stanley (pictured above running a fever). He's been overheating and running poorly and finally had to be hauled away for repairs that are more expensive than he's actually worth. I had been gearing up to start fundraising for a new vehicle when I am in the US next month HOWEVER God had already provided the funds I need to get a reliable, secondhand vehicle who I've already named Eddie in honor of the family who is helping me purchase him!!! I am getting teary-eyed even now as I type these words. I am cared for by and serve such a loving, all-knowing, tender, precious God. I am sure we all have areas of our lives that makes us feel particularly weak and for some reason, for me, I feel more single and incapable when dealing with car issues. Mainly because that is an area of life that I would make my (hypothetical) husband handle so usually handling car issues makes me a bit of a mess. It has been such a blessing to walk through this situation feeling protected, peaceful and provided for. Thank you to everyone who has sent me words of encouragement, fetched me on the side of the road, contributed to Eddie's eventual purchase and continue to pray that God would have His way in all areas of my ministry... including transportation for the babies and me!
I will be visiting the US in just a few short weeks! I am so excited to see my family and friends in California and Colorado. I am ready to join my fellow Californians melting in the summer sun! Would you please join me in (already) praying for my trip home and all the beautiful chaos that is going to shoved into the few short weeks I am home?! For favor during my travels, protection for my babies and aunties while I am away and that He be glorified in all things!
Love you, appreciate you and thank our gracious God for your willingness to continue to participate in my hopeful adventure!
nicole & the babies and El Roi
May 23, 2013
Hi friends! We are officially on our way to winter... brrrrr... our house be cold! We've had an eventful few weeks including our VERY FIRST ADOPTION!
Our precious baby girl, "L" went to be with her forever family the last week in April. The placement went smoothly and our sweet girl left the Abba Office fast asleep in her mommy's arms. I was thankful to have the support of our new COO, Lelane, join me for moral support on this very special of days. It has been a bittersweet journey walking our household through our first placement but our Father has been close to each of us... including our toddler who had a few days struggling with the goodbye.
On the very day that we said our goodbyes to our baby girl "L" our newest blessing was being born! Two weeks later I was able to go and fetch baby girl "T" and bring her home. She is a tiny little button of a girl who is surely going to be a singer one day. She has some serious lung power and is adorably cute with thick curls and wide eyes. We are all enjoying having a new little in our home and thanking God for rescuing our sweet princess!
Our "big" babies continue to grow! Baby P cut his first two bottom teeth this week and is about ready to begin crawling properly and can already manage to roll and scoot himself wherever he so desires! And our all our babies have now started to eat rice cereal and everyone is loving it. All in all everyone is getting so big and mobile!
Our sweet big girl got to have braids put in her hair this month and she LOVES having hair that she can play with, swing around and but clips in. I swear she is 2 going on 20... she thinks she is so grown up! It is a crack up experiencing her growing understanding and vocabulary. She told me recently that it wasn't bedtime, it was rather "16 o'clock"... so funny! She continues to be a very good big sister and can even identify each of our babies by their cries. Please join me in praying that she will be able to spend Christmas in her forever family!
Sorry the words were few but my internet situation continues to be tricky.
Love you all and am thanking Jesus for your love and support today!
Hugs and Kisses
~ nicole and the babies at El Roi
at May 23, 2013
Jokingly I told J when we finally got home after two long weeks that we had just gotten home from our very first short term mission tri...
Hello from South Africa! I wanted to say hello and update you on one of the best and all consuming parts of my 2017 thus far. It is a long ...
Jokingly I told J when we finally got home after two long weeks that we had just gotten home from our very first short term mission tri...
On his 10th day with us J and I headed to a nearby mall to have coffee with a friend and do some shopping. It was a Saturday and before...