Oct 29, 2013

i carry your heart with me...

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)
                                                                                                                i fear
                                                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

aaannnddd.... We're back!

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

The Journey of Surrender

It is a pretty spectacular thing: watching a family be born right in front of your eyes. To see years of prayers answered in a moment. ...