Saturday, December 26, 2009

christmas videos.

video

Mrs. Claus, apparently a teacher herself, wrote a "note" to Caroline on a new handwriting pad she got in her stocking. Caroline was absolutely mesmerized!
i got andy a Flip video camera. I'm testing out adding video to the blog. Sorry the videos aren't great, we're just figuring it out.
I filled a "grown up" bag of mine with all kinds of baby supplies for Lucy. It is amazing how much more they like something if it is real mommy gear.

video

Schulz/Farrar Christmas

"Glory to God in the Highest. Peace on earth, good will to men!"
The Christmas "pagent" was great fun to think about and dress up for, but not as much fun to practice. So, they just dressed up as an angel and mary and smiled :)

Christmas eve church service and dinner here with Gramma/Papa and Kathryn/Andy.

Deer are all over the neighborhood, but we don't see too many on our street. The last two Christmas mornings we have, though. We've also seen bunnies on Easter mornings, twice. weird.

It was amazing how Santa built a swing!
Kathryn made bedding for two doll beds that she bought and painted. They are beautiful! They match the girls bedding and both dolls slept well last night next to their mommies.
Kit Kitredge, American Girl. Our new best friend.
Santa really pulled through with the baby bjorn and shopping cart. Lucy has had her baby attached to her since yesterday morning. She got a new baby from my mom that cries when her pacifier comes out. It's awesome.
He is in boy heaven with the tool bench and the slide and the little basketball hoop.





ALL he wanted to do was play outside with the football/basketball/soccer ball...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Zilker Tree


The Zilker Park tree is an Austin landmark, at least for me. As a kid, every Christmas my family went down to spin underneath, drink hot cocoa, and look at the nativity scenes. My brother asked Liz to marry him there, I love that. If she had said no, that would have really put a damper on the experience!
The tree is just a tall pole with colored lights coming down. I love the way you can see it from Mopac over Town Lake.

Taking my kids there the other night was a blast. I got to watch them run in circles, get dizzy, fall down, and eat kettle corn. Now there is this entire trail of lights, which, mercifully, due to "budgetary restrictions" of the city, was scaled way back.

A funny conversation looking at the displays:
Lucy "Why is there a bear there? That's not Jesus."
Caroline: "No, Lucy, it could be, a bear is really strong and so is Jesus"





Look at that HUGE bag of Kettle Korn!


Spinning and Spinning


The girls and Jack, our neighbor

I do love Christmas in Austin.
I love being in the hill country, and only a few miles out of downtown.
I wore a tshirt and flipflops to HEB today to buy stocking stuffers.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mud

Hacking at the mud puddle


I LOVE watching Preston play. Playing in mud, running up and down hills, throwing balls, sticks, food, anything that can be thrown . I've finally figured out he HAS to be outside. We both need him to be outside, or he will destroy the house and possibly my sanity.
While the girls took a nap today, we walked 2 doors up the hill where they are building a house. Preston loved stomping in the mud, throwing it, painting it on the wood...



falling asleep...

Gingerbread Landslide

My neighbor Amanda always says if she hadn't done structural engineering (PhD style), she would have been a pastry chef. She makes amazing creations like Volcano cakes that erupt for her son's birthday. I should have called her before I attemped the premade Gingerbread House with the girls... It was standing for about 7 minutes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Home of Hope

I found out 2 important things yesterday.

First, the orphanage where our little boy is coming from: Home of Hope. What a beautiful name! It was started a few years ago in Kigali, by a church in Canada, and is run by the Sisters of Calcutta (Mother Theresa) There are 140 children there.
http://rwanda.homeofhope.ca/

It is all starting to feel real now. Just this fact of knowing where my baby is coming from kept my mind spinning all night. (that and Lucy up with "phantom tooth pain" :) and Preston up with real tooth pain)

Second: Andy is going there in 4 weeks!!

He and 3 others from our church are going on a scouting trip to determine if Home of Hope and this ministry: Africa New Life, http://anlm.org/ both in Kigali, would be good fits for our church to partner with long term. I had to race around yesterday to have his expired passport sent off for expedited renewal.

I am beyond excited. Our good friend Natalie is on staff stateside with ANL here in Austin.

Andy may get to meet our son! I ran across this description of the orphanage this morning. My mind is again reeling. This family, the Greers, adopted from Home of Hope this summer. You should see how their son has blossomed here in his new home. http://milestomyles.blogspot.com/ She and 4 other women have started a nonprofit to help the orphanage, sounds like they really need it!!


"Ever since Peter and I left the Home of Hope the last day with our precious Myles Mugisha , we have been haunted by the images of the children we had to walk away from. To finalize our adoption, we were in Rwanda seven days. Three of those days we had to return Myles to the orphanage by 5pm every evening. Peter encouraged me not to enter the orphanage until the final day that we had our son and could take him home.
The last day came, and we carried Myles down to the orphanage room where he spent about 5 months of his life, to say "goodbye." As soon as we entered the hallway that led to the different rooms of age-grouped children, I was hit with a smell-mix of dampness, wet diapers, and musty unopened windows. There really is no explaining it. When I entered Myles' room, I saw dark aqua walls, the smell of urine-soaked mattresses, rows and rows of tiny bassinets, each one holding a child, an orphan with a story, a child who needed/s a home. Most of these tiny beds had a string across the top with dangling toys for the babies to look at. The only empty bassinet was the one that had held Myles for those months of waiting. It was the length of his little body, no wonder he still, at 7 months, had no idea how to turn on his side. After spending some time visiting with the babies in the room, and trying to control the depth of anguish I felt for the orphaned children in the room and for the 2-3 care takers who were trying their hardest to feed, clothe, bathe, change, and care for the 35 infants in the room, we left to look into the other rooms of the orphanage. Next we walked into the 12-24 month room. Oddly enough-and I've never experienced anything else like this in my life, but I have NO memory of this room. I believe that it was too hard to see these children and my memory is blocked. The other room that I remember was full of 2-5 year olds (I think) and there were many rows of cribs, 2 children to a crib. I took in the room for a moment: nothing on the walls, not toys to be seen, nothing. Nothing. There is so much more to write, but the end result is how we felt when we left. As we backed out of the Home of Hope driveway, I vividly remember waving to a small group of 2-4 year olds--and remember especially a bright-eyed little girl in a worn yellow dress, smiling and waving to us as we left. While we were so happy to be leaving with Myles, we were leaving many many more.
Coming home: I shared with my friends the grief we felt (and many other families feel) for those children left behind. What can we do? How do we start? My friends Christina and Heather, right away, responded with: "we can." A month and a half after we had settled into our new life with our baby Myles, they began talking about the action plan again. "We can do something." Even if it's sending an excersaucer for the infant room, which I got approval for...Myles had very little muscle tone in his legs from non-use.. The sisters at the orphanage and I found a small spot in the infant room where an excersaucer would fit perfectly. My mind went back to the children waving goodbye to us, standing in the dirt outside the Home of Hope, they weren't wearing shoes. "We can" send shoes. We can work together, with the help of others who have same-heart-desires for change."

Saturday, December 5, 2009

All I want for Christmas...




They're gone. My monkey who knocked her front teeth loose last year,twice, got the final verdict from the dentist. They've got to go. Lucy thinks she looks great! The dentist promises me her mouth will look less cavernous in a week or so. yikes
Lucy is so proud and ran screaming into my bed at 6:30 this morning that the tooth fairy had left her $2.
My sis in law, Liz, was babysitting last night and prepped her for the big event with the tooth fairy pillow and took the pictures. I think she has eye-shadow on. One of the perks of Aunt Liz. She comes with books, crafts and make-up!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

In My Head

That is sometimes a frightening place to be. A lot goes on in there that is not often spoken. (although plenty spoken that shouldn't be!) This has been an interesting year in my head.
(I'm sorry in advance if this is long. Stop reading now, and go check out Pioneer Woman, or Simple Mom (to the left) They are decorating for Christmas!)

This past spring and again in the summer, I studied the Upper Room Discourse of John 13-17. I sat in those 4 chapters for about 6months. I studied Jesus and his last night on earth. What did he do? What were the last words he spoke to his disciples? Themes that emerged and penetrated my heart:
~“lay down your life”
~“whoever believes in me, will also DO the works that I do.”
~“A new commandment I give to you to love one another, just as I have loved you." This being uttered right after he had stripped himself down and washed their filthy feet. "JUST as I have loved you."
~Bearing fruit only by abiding in Him
~and the untapped power of the Holy Spirit in me.

I also read a book by the president of World Vision, Rich Sterns, The Hole in Our Gospel.
This book blew me away, pointing me out of my anesthetized, safe, world to the shocking reality of the "least of these" right here, right now, in our world. Our neighbors across the globe.
This book most importantly pointed me to scripture. How have I missed passages like Isaiah 58? I’ve studied the Bible all my life. God is telling His people that he is done with their meaningless, rote sacrifices and fasts.

6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to bring the homeless poor into your house—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard"

God's heart has become clearer and clearer to me.
Psalm 68: 5 "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
6 God sets the lonely in families"

God was calling me to action. Unfortunately, God was also leading Andy in the same direction :)

I loved volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center in the getto, in Houston, for 4 years. God designed me passionately pro-life. It makes perfect sense to me that he would call me to take the step of bringing an unwanted or orphaned child into my home. Why didn’t I think about that sooner? I was much more anti-abortion than a lover of life, and that needed to change.

I am a stay at home mom. I have 3 young children. My life is at home. That is where I need to be right now, to disciple my children while they are young. Yes, I share my life and faith with my neighbors and friends daily, and a couple younger women. But, God has me meeting him in the mundane right now. I’m learning that that is usually where God meets me, speaks with me, disciplines me, and fills me with passions for his kingdom: while I’m cleaning the kitchen, or folding laundry, sitting in the quiet moments before the children wake, or asking forgiveness from them for losing my temper. (often right after those aforementioned quiet moments!)
That being said, my ministry is at home, and I feel God is calling us to bring an orphan into our family, into our home.
" to set the lonely in families"
"to bring the homeless poor into your home"
I started reading blogs of families around the country doing just this. They looked like us, thought like us, and sought to make their short time on this earth count before they face God in heaven. I have been so inspired by them, and encouraged to step out in faith. These families are putting their time, money, and hearts where their mouths are.

We are not doing this because it will be easy, or convenient, or cute. I believe I am his workmanship and this is a step in the good work that God prepared beforehand for me. Ephesians 2: 8-10.

There will be tough stuff ahead.

Adoption is the next step, not the first, or the last. Kingdom living, for me, is walking in the good works which God prepared for me before I was created. Stepping out in faith, walking towards Him.
Our family will be changed. Others will roll their eyes, or scoff, or think it's a foolish or naive idea. I'm OK with that, I'm not fishing for affirmation. Some will ask, or think, "Do we think we're better than other people?" Hell, no! I will sin all the way through this process, just like I do every day.

A child is orphaned in the world every 15 seconds. Where is the Body of Christ? There are over 40 references to orphans in just the OT.

James 1:27 "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to look after orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

How can I be involved in God’s rescue plan? Adoption is one step. I have dear friends fostering as well, or giving money to help other families adopt. I know others serving as an advocate for orphans in court or getting certified to relieve foster parents.

We have just completed our last homestudy and are compiling all our paperwork for our dossier to be sent to Rwanda. Yes, Rwanda. Again, God has opened doors there, and placed people in our lives who live there, and have adopted from there. We are thrilled about the future as we expand our family!
So that is what has been in my heart and my head this past year. In a nutshell.

I love these thoughts by amazing singer/songwriter Sara Groves, she had just come back from Africa:

"There is a scene in the movie Dances with Wolves where the Sioux are on a much anticipated buffalo hunt. As they come up over a hill, they are shocked to see a field full of buffalo carcasses. The tragedy of that moment is that where the Sioux use every piece of the buffalo—the bladder holds water, the bone makes a tool, the skin is a covering for a tent- whoever has done this has taken the best part of the buffalo for himself and has left everything else to waste. There is no way to make good use of all that is lying in this field.

I was so convicted when I went to Africa that I am not using all of my spiritual buffalo. I have developed this one side of my personal relationship with God. I go to church, I have incredible worship, and I listen to incredible speakers. I have money to buy devotionals, and leisure time to do those devotionals. I have spent a lifetime grooming a personal faith in Christ, but have I been taking the best piece of the buffalo for myself? There has been a joy in discovering the good use of my life. There is a reciprocal redemption that happens when we enter into stories of helping our neighbor—not just around the world, but in our own communities. When I came home from Africa, instead of feeling guilty for my life, I began to hear God in a very clear way say, ‘that thing carries water, that thing makes a tool, that is covering for a tent.’ There is a beauty to the good use of a life, and to the acknowledgment that everything you have and do has a Kingdom purpose. "

Reciprocal Redemption.

If you made it this far, thanks. We are SO excited to take this next step in the life of our little family. We know there is a little boy in this far away land who God made just for our family!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sweet little family

Colbie Slone Schulz born this morning in Fort Worth to Andy's brother Charlie, wife Erin and little boy Maddon. She was 7 lbs 2 oz. Healthy. Congratulations!!!


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Lake Park Style

So, we checked out the annual halloween bash down at the lake park Friday night.
As you can see, the florescent orange hair paint swayed Lucy in her decision to be Pippi (as opposed to a drunk, floosy orphanage worker, overweight laundry man or monkey with a tophat, although also good options)
We made a night of it with the neighbors. Have I mentioned I have the best neighbors? All the kids have a ball together!! Their moms are OK too :)
There was a special performance by two middle aged women in silver spandex lip syncing and dancing to 60's music. I'm thinking they were not drinking the sodas from the cooler. Wish I had a picture.
We went trick or treating in the dark, huge hit. There were bouncy houses, a foam pit, cake walk, CANDY. Lucy declared it the best night of her life.



Buzz Lightyear was hating on the white spandex pants, but the ladies loved it!


Pippi lounging in the Fire Engine, chatting it up with the Fireman.


They are not as innocent as they look!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A tale of two girls



I have two daughters. Their differences are becoming more pronounced as their personalities come out. For example, tonight, I walk into their room and instead of putting her clothes away, she is rocking out to Pearl Jam which somehow she found on the radio. At the same time the other one walked in singing "we hymn the Father, we hymn the Son, we hymn the Spirit, holy divine".

Halloween costumes. One wants to be an angel and already has borrowed the costume from a neighbor, halo and all. The other is deciding between Mrs. Hannegan, Mr. Bundles (both from Annie) and Mr. Nilson (the monkey from Pipi Longstocking).


One daughter loved every minute of me reading the entire Little House Series to her. The other is barely hanging on to Pipi Lonstocking, and loves Fancy Nancy.




One daughter loves long shorts and t-shirts or smocked dresses, the other sports tank tops, her ripped up jean skirt, and flip flops.

I absolutely adore them both. Now, #1 is not as perfect as advertised and #2 is much more of a joy than she sounds. They both make me laugh, and thankfully, they are both adventurous. Both of them have that glimmer of mischeveousness in their eye. I love that God made them SO different, and that I get to figure out how to raise them both. He has gifted them in such unique ways and will use them both for his purposes. Differently.

Yesterday, one girl designed an entire orphanage in the sand, complete with a cross on top. The other thought adoption was a horrible idea until she saw a video with a girl by her name being adopted. The african girl is silly and wears big bows. She watches it often, and now can't imagine not bringing a little orphan into our family. She has a BIG heart and loves with everything in her. God is leading them both to himself. I'm so glad it doesn't look the same.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

We're Baaaak!



So, after a year's hiatus, I'm back in the blogging world. Now, my first stint only lasted a wee three months, so we'll see how it goes. Ironically, I took the best pics of the kids at the Pumpkin Patch yesterday and of all the neighbors here today for the block party, BUT somehow, they got erased :(. Here's a pic of the men dressed in their Longhorn wear to celebrate UT once again dominating OU, well, not so much dominating, but at least a "W". We had all the neighbors over for chili, making caramel apples, sandbox fun and UT football, 13 kids!!! It was a blast. I LOVE my neighbors, we have the best block here at Canyon Edge.

I'll use this to chronicle our little lives. I'll be back soon!