Monday, September 16, 2013

Walking by Faith- The Passport Story and New Timeline

This post would have come earlier last week but instead of writing we were ransacking our house looking for a lost passport. We're so thankful to be in need of passport scrambling...because finally we're getting that close!!

About two weeks ago after getting all the needed paperwork into the lawyer's hands in India, we got an update. Our orphanage expects the final two processes to take 2 1/2 months. While I brace myself that estimations are just that and not guarantees, it's still so much faster than we ever dared dream. Meaning, our girl might well have a late birthday celebration here, with us! And that Christmas could be with four Tegens instead of three! As Levi would say, yippee yippee yah yah!!

As of Thursday night, {spoiler warning} Levi will be going with us to India to pick up his sister. After getting his passport back in March we had been unable to find it. Like, for two months. We looked under, around and in the fire box multiple times, went through our adoption folder the same amount and searched every nook and cranny where a passport might fit. Nada. With our recent news and the possibility, according to our agency, of ordering visas by month's end, we were getting frantic. The prayers turned desperate and literally I was on my knees on multiple occasions begging for help in the matter. Thursday night was our deadline before reporting it lost then ordering and expediting a new one. While it was about the money, it was also about the time. So, I prayed another I'm-so-desperate-and-need-Your-help prayer while Jason and I set out on one final search before sitting down at the computer. One minute into the search while bent down to look under the bed for the third time that day, Jason threw something across the room at me. 

Levi's passport! 

In the spot that I had looked over and over and NOT found a passport, Jason reached in and pulled it out. Just behind our fire box (the one I had pulled out, looked under, looked behind and looked inside at least five times), there it was. I'm still bewildered at how to explain it except to say that God answers desperate, persistent prayers for a little boys ticket to go meet his sister with the rest of his family. And we are so, so thankful that He did! 

For now we are waiting and praying for the judge who'll review our case. We don't expect to hear the specific court dates, only the outcome, so pray with us. Also, join us in singing some praises over the incredible provision from the week. May it be a challenge to us all to believe our prayers are being heard and to pray with bold perseverance until we see answers. Because, God's still in the answering business! We are eyewitnesses!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Milestones: 3 1/2 Years

Next month Levi's officially three and a half. In half a year he's grown in vocabulary, wit and height. Here are the latest facts on our growing preschooler.

Clothes size: 3T/4T(jammies)

Height: 3 ft. 4 in.

Weight: 37 lbs.

Shoe size: 9- still super, duper wide

Favorite thing to do: Listen to music, have books read to him, playing in water/puddles and ANYTHING trains/cars

Favorite toy: Pull-n-go Lighting McQueen and any car or truck

Favorite phrase: One of my favorites is "silly ole me."

Favorite show: Team Umi Zoomi (or so he says even though he's only seen it a few times)

New things: Pacis and games

The last hoorah on the way to sell the pacis.

  • Paci-free! This summer we took a friend's advice and talked to Levi about buying a toy with his pacis. He came to us one morning out of the blue telling us he was ready to sell them in exchange for a new train. We drove that day to a local toy store and have been paci-free ever since. With only a few nights of asking for the paci, Levi went from totally attached to paci-free in a day with Hiro the train to thank for the easy transition.

  • Games! One of our favorite things to do when sitting in the new pavilion or shopping in the grocery store is playing the Hot or Without Game. For the first you say the word hot then take turns adding silly words to it. donut holes, etc. Without involves thinking of two integral parts of something and leaving one out. For example we'd say, "it's like apple trees without apples," "it's like a sky without clouds," etc. I'm amazed at Levi's creativity and knowledge of things that belong together.

Silly moments: This summer when Levi was really sick I'd often ask him how he felt throughout the day especially in the mornings. One morning he said, "That sickness packed it's suitcase and went away." Then at the dinner table the other day he said all by himself, "How has your week been?" Sounds like he's been sitting in on too many RA weekly meetings.  

The end: Since pictures often tell more than words, here are a few more along with a video of Levi's first retelling of a story.

Levi's front yard sand box (a.ka. our campus's new sand volleyball pit)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Grandmother Putney

Toward the end of last month Jason and I drove his parents to the airport to fly down to Florida. After a fall, Jason's grandmother was having trouble recovering. We spoke to her on the phone Thursday evening before leaving his parents at the airport. Three days later she passed away. Two weeks later... there is still shock and deep sadness. 

Grandmother Putney is pictured here in blue.
At her funeral, Jason shared some words and sweet memories of his grandmother. From Jason's words that day:

If Grandmother Putney were here to witness our final gathering of celebration and remembrance of her life, there are some things I’d like for her to know:

  1. I’d want her to know my childhood and teen years are scattered with great memories of Christmas’ at the beach of south Florida - the richness of memories at her and Grandpa’s Ft. Lauderdale home...even swimming on Christmas’ day. The smell of the ocean as we made the long drive every several years. Pumpernickel bread with milk for a bed time snack.
  1. I’d want her to know I still remember the sleepovers in my parents basement when she and Grandpa would come visit before their house was built on Sycamore street....then sleepovers there that often ended with wheat pancakes and real maple syrup on Saturday morning.
  1. I’d want her to know the richness I feel that she lived to see the third generation...her daughter’s --> son’s --> son. Kelley and I treasure the three years Levi was blessed to know his maternal great-grandmother. The simplicity of watching grandmother get out the very same Lincoln logs and Tinker toys that I played with as a boy is such a rich memory. I recognize not many children are given this gift of knowing their great-grandmother. Levi was and we will forever treasure that.
  1. I’d want her to know the tremendous impact her modeling 65 years of commitment, consistency and love in marriage to Grandpa has had on the generations that have followed and on Kelley and I...we are about 1/8 of the way there in years. God is so honored in such a marriage. What a legacy of faithfulness.
  1. Speaking of legacy - I’d want her to stop and consider the generations who have come behind her: her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We are all walking with the Lord in large part because of the cornerstone of Jesus she and Grandpa built their marriage and home upon...and the baton of faith she and Grandpa have passed on.
  1. I’d want her to know that we are all shocked how fast she doesn’t seem real even now...but we are so grateful she had health and freedom to fully enjoy life essentially all the way to the very end. What a gift that was to share richness of life with Grandpa to age 88.
  1. I’d want her to know I will greatly miss her hospitality. I will treasure the countless memories of evenings at Grandma and Grandpa’s house where she would bring out nuts, cookies, snacks and drinks...oftentimes directly after a family meal at Western Sizzlin. Sometimes we would say, “Grandma, we just came from eating...” Those times of fellowship will continue, but we will miss her greatly.
  1. I’d want her to know she is responsible for instilling the love of the puzzle in our family...though I don’t know that it fully took in me. All the way back to my childhood I can’t remember a time where an in-process puzzle wasn’t set out on the table at Grandmother’s house. I’d tell her I still have the puzzle of the Grand Teton’s that she finished for me and had mounted to hang on the wall in our home.
  1. I’d want her to know I’m fascinated that she lived in a generation that likely saw more overall change of lifestyle than any other generation in our world’s history. What a ride it must have been: born in the 1920’s, having the great depression attached to childhood memories, experiencing World War II, seeing the widespread movement of electricity, vehicles, interstate systems, air travel, an incredible amount of culture shifts within our country, the civil rights days, ....all the way down to the cell phone and internet revolution and technology explosion. What an amazing amount of change Grandma saw...even the story told through the pictures of her and Grandpa down through the years we are able to enjoy this day. What steadfastness, flexibility and grace it required to live those 88 years she did.
  1. I’d want her to know I recognize and appreciate that she never let a birthday or even a holiday pass without acknowledgment through a card and/or a gift. That’s A LOT of cards and gifts over the years for three children and seven grandchildren. Speaking of that: I could always count on Grandmother Ruth to have a story of an unbeatable sale from Macy’s, Belk or JCPenney to go along with the new polo shirts. Grandma never did disguise those gift boxes very well. :)  Seriously, I realize Grandmother’s intentionality in expressing love on birthdays and holidays as well as anyone in my life.
  1. I’d want her to know that while I’m speaking of clothes, I know she’d be very impressed that I’m wearing a suit and tie on this day we remember her.
  1. I’d want her to know that I realize I’m among a minority of people I know who had the privilege of knowing my maternal grandmother until I was almost 30. I am very aware of how blessed I am in that regard.
  1. Grandpa, I want you to know that you have my utmost respect and admiration for faithfully walking with Grandmother all the days of her life...for finishing those final days in the hospital and rehab with just as much commitment, steadfastness and love as you started your days together in 1948. From a grandson looking on you certainly modeled how to live beside Grandmother in faithfulness and without regret until her very last day, though that came much more quickly than any of us expected. We love you Grandpa.

Finally, if Grandma were here I would want her to know that we all gather to remember her convinced that:

Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers...neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord... (Romans 8:38-39)

So I can say with confidence that though we grieve deeply for her, we do not have to grieve as those who do not have hope (1 Thess 4:13). 

One of the scriptures passed along from Aunt Dawn that greatly encouraged Grandmother in her last days is found in Isaiah 46:4:

I will be your God throughout your lifetime - until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.

Praise God for his promises that are always true, for the reality of Heaven and for the great comforter who doesn't leave us. We will continually remember Grandmother Putney missing her deeply and celebrating her life well lived. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

August in Pictures

Last month, besides resting and starting a new semester, we...

...made yet another four buggy Walmart run preparing for RA retreat,

...enjoyed a little more time on the lake with friends,

...welcomed a new group into leadership on campus,

She loved us and our boy so well these past few years. 

...said goodbye to a dear friend who moved back home with family

...and visited with extended family. (We'll write more about this in the month to come.)

September is here bringing lots of company, a stack of books to read, anticipation of an approaching trip to India and a new zeal to write here and share the details. Check back this week. Milestones for Levi, updates on R and a special post are all to come!