Jun 23, 2016

God is in the business of creating families!

Last week we celebrated our 17th adoption at El Roi! Our sweet girl L is now happily in the arms of her Forever Family... a mommy, daddy and big brother who was also adopted from South Africa. One of the perks of this calling is having the opportunity to watch a family birthed right before your eyes. My wounded heart, smarting from an always painful goodbye is soothed by the promise of Psalm 68:6a coming to life in a long awaited and hoped for instant. A family of three finally becomes a family of four. Prayers are answered. Hopes are fulfilled. A new adventure begins. It is amazing to behold... and it never, ever, gets old! 

This little princess had such a unique and beautiful personality... independent, silly, introspective, stubborn and loving. A smile that is wide and accompanied by two of the deepest dimples I've ever had the privilege of admiring up close. I will remember the resoluteness living her eyes when she had decided to be stubborn about something. I will remember the funny season when she decided to call me "dada". I will remember her infectious laugh and the sweet satisfaction of a hard earned smile. I will remember her spontaneous, dive bomb hugs that would surprise and delight me. I will remember how we waited and prayed for her match to be approved for over six months and the joy when we finally heard word of her Forever Family making their way to fetch their baby girl. 

I believe that God's works are perfect and ALL His ways are just but there are times when my heart needs to be reminded. There are times when I need to pray that God would help my unbelieving heart. I am thankful for stories like L's that I will be able to look to when my heart needs encouragement. From the moment of her inception her good, good Father was working out a way to get her to the family he had created for her. I love adoption. I am so grateful that God adopted me. 

God is in the business of creating families!

May 18, 2016

I Wanna Be Like Jimmy...

I love Jimmy Fallon. I always say that if I could be BFFs with anyone "famous" it would be him. I adore his late night show (although I only watch it sporadically thorough clips posted on Youtube) and he can always, ALWAYS make me laugh. I seriously have a file on my computer of funny videos that I specifically keep to watch on my hardest days... 80% feature him. One thing I appreciate about his show is his ability to help his guests, co-workers and audience members feel at home and safe in Studio 6-B... at least that it what it feels like to the person watching it on her laptop 8,000 miles and 7 Time Zones away. 

Recently, Megan Trainor was on the show performing her song "Me Too" in a beautiful, sequined dress, singing well and moving pretty deftly around stage in super tall platform-y heels. At the very end of the song she reaches for her mic and tumbles to the floor when one of her ankles betray her in previously mentioned (now notorious) heels. At this point in time Jimmy is already addressing the audience and is on his way to her side. Instead of rushing her to her feet, cutting to commercial or editing the mistake out of the show altogether he chooses to lie on the floor beside her, look into her eyes and just be with her in the midst of the mistake. After a moment he helps her rise to her feet, makes a comment about the moment and the mistake, thanks her and encourages people to check out her music. And I have watched the clip at least 10 times already and it makes me love him all the more. 

I want to be like Jimmy at 3:45 in the Youtube clip below. I want to lay down beside people who are suffering, even the ones who are suffering at their own hand. To acknowledge unashamedly that we all make mistakes, that bad things happen and that even then we can do life together. I don't want to ignore or brush by or edit out suffering, failure, sin or pain in myself or others. I want to be willing to lay myself uncomfortably down (notice the sparkly mic digging into his shoulder blade) for the sake of meeting others where they are at. To pull them to their feet and point out the good and well-done in the midst of the training and failing and starting over that life provides. I want to live humbly and honestly and allow others to do the same for me in my fall to the floor moments... public and private ones.

I am grateful for the people in my life who have laid beside me in my weak moments, spoke truth into my life and pulled me to my feet so I could move forward. To learn from my mistakes, to make wiser decisions and to be even more grateful for the beautiful and mysterious grace of Christ in which I live. I want to be like Jimmy but even more I want to be like Christ... who even on my darkest days is right there beside me. Holding me close and calling me to better. Speaking truth into the good and hope into the grimmest parts of my heart. Standing beside me as a friend and encourager. Covering me in His perfection and hiding me in His love.

I am thankful that God let Jimmy and I be alive on this planet at the same time. We will probably never meet (although I'd love to make it to Studio 6-B one day -- #bucketlist) but I am blessed to witness who God has made him to be and for the opportunity to pray for Jimmy to fully come to know the One who loves and knows him best!

P.S. Thanks for all of you who have been praying for the babies and I this past week. We are managing to make it though the virus and are feeling healthier and happier as each day passes. We are so glad to have you on our team :) 

May 12, 2016

You Know it's Been Awhile When...

You know it has been awhile when the last time you updated your blog it was a year ago. How embarrassing. Now that I've addressed that elephant in the room let me tell you about some of my latest adventures:


In April the Volunteer Committee planned a getaway to Kruger National Park with all our International Volunteers, 13 in all! We had the best time discovering beautiful wildlife, the joys of Afrikaans Karaoke and the intense competition that games like Hand and Foot and Settlers of Catan can bring out in a group of friends :) 


We've just finished a season with an influx of wonderful, hysterical, talented and fun volunteers. It has been such a joy getting to know new people and strengthening bonds with friends from other trips. I had the unique privilege of getting to have my "worlds" collide when one of my "ex" students from my time in Littleton, Colorado came to serve with us for almost 2 whole months! I've know Kaylin since she was a itty-bitty teenager and it was such a joy to do life along side her again for a tiny slice of time! The Lord continues to show me the beauty in every season (even the ones that change too quickly for my taste) and helping me anticipate with joy the hope of heaven with every goodbye I embrace on earth. 

Speaking of which, in March we were able to celebrate El Roi's 16th adoption when Baby girl A was placed in her mommy's arms with her new brother right by her side! A few days after the adoption we received a special confirmation of this beautiful placement when her new mom shared with us this story. When our babies come to us, I make them a name tag with a picture and Bible verse that we've selected just for them. When Baby A's mom was praying about confirming the match He gave her James 3:17 and that is the exact verse that God had given me to put on her name tag! Her mom also decided to keep the name we had given her as her first name, which doesn't typically happen for someone being adopted so little. 


It's funny that even though I've had a few years to practice this love and release muscle in my heart and mind there are still some placements that knock me off my feet and drive me to the heart of our good, good Father. This was one of them. I am grateful to give of myself until it hurts... but, oh, can it hurt! Thankfully I have 11 precious littles to keep my heart full and my mind busy on the business of doing the good I have to do everyday. Even on the grief tainted ones. 


We currently have a house full of toddlers and we have been spending lots of time adjusting our schedules and patterns to adjust to a bunch of busy, growing, strong-willed little people. We have a few mantras that you can hear spoken dozens of time a day including the popular: 'listen and obey', 'chew your food', 'please, share' and 'do I need to go get Auntie Nicole?' It is so fun watching little personalities emerge in strong and clear ways. We've started an educational component to our days and it is amazing how quickly they are retaining shapes, colors, letters, numbers but most importantly: Biblical concepts, stories, songs and verses! 


We've entered our fall and it has been the perfect excuse to bundle up with blankets while working and looking for excuses to stop for coffee dates. We had Starbucks open up that is kinda/sorta near our pediatrician's office so it has been fun to pop in once or twice just because we could! It is funny how things from home just seem 1,000 times more exciting when they end up on African shores! 


Other highlights had included getting invited to sing at some dear friend's wedding, a trip to Moyo (one of my favorite restaurants in Joburg), a donated haircut and color from a talented local volunteer and a change to represent El Roi at City Life CHurch's annual Epic Easter Egg hunt!

It has been a joy to feel more and more "at home" in my church community and I am grateful to have a wonderful base of people who I can message for a quick coffee date or heart to heart over a delicious place of ribs (ladylike, I know). I am loving getting to watch others grow up close... it encourages me to press in to do the hard inner work that will always, ALWAYS, drive us closer to the heart of our precious Jesus. Even more so, I am grateful for women who will pull me to the side and encourage me to run this race with endurance, throwing off everything that hinders or slows us down on this race to heaven. 


We are continuing to celebrate birthday and first teeth, we are working through regular doctor and OT visits and experiencing grand adventures like potty training. I continue to thank Jesus for a wonderful staff of paid and volunteer Aunties who help create a home environment where our kiddos can thrive!


The South African economic situation has been tough and we continue to trust God to help take care of our babies and the running costs of their home. We have also been fighting many country wide battles for acceptance and facilitation of adoption in South African and abroad. Child abandonment and illegal abortions are on the rise. Many of our babies are awaiting families while there are only a handful of families available in South Africa and the government is reluctant to release children for Inter-country Adoptions. These are all God sized problems. They are not far from His heart or hidden from His eyes. Please join us in praying that God would inspire the change needed in the hearts and minds of those in positions of power who have the authority and responsiblity to help our babies find their Forever Families. 

Thank you to all of you have been praying, supporting, loving and holding me in this adventure. If you haven't liked the El Roi Facebook Page or haven't followed me on Instagram, I would love to invite you to do so today! I am much better about popping up pictures and updates there but I hope to see you again in the space much sooner than last time. If you would like more information about financially supporting me or El Roi directly please message me at nicolegillette@gmail.com. Until we meet again I would encourage you to spend a few minutes worship alongside me with one of my "reminder" songs here. Love you all so!

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