Friday, October 7, 2016

Rolling Around in Vomit

The smell was overwhelming in the hallway. Then I opened the door to her bedroom.

Inside was far worse. The stench caused me to gag and nearly took me to my knees.

What on earth?

As I approached her crib, she popped up and stood at the rail.

"Oh, Pearl. Something is very stinky. What is it?"

She pointed down to her pillow and said, "Look."

And that's when the putrid culprit was identified. 


Remnants of the previous night's dinner. Dried up, hours-old vomit.

Unfortunately, its victims were not only her pillowcase and her blankies. My sweet baby girl was also covered in it. Her short, brown hair matted together and her pajama shirt saturated. She was a hot mess.

Assessing the damage, I then asked her, "Oh, Pearl, why didn't you call for us?  Why didn't you tell us you needed help?"


She didn't understand what I was asking. She had no clue.

We have a baby monitor in our bedroom.  We hear her whenever she makes a noise, wakes up startled, or is singing herself to sleep. And never, not once, did we hear her voice in the night alerting us there was a problem. Never.

Maybe she was too sleepy. Maybe she didn't notice. Maybe she didn't care.

Bottom line: She didn't call out for us to help her with the mess.

As grossed out as I was from the scene, I was even more sad. 

We've spent nearly the last six months teaching our girl to trust us. To trust us to take care of her, to provide for her, to assist her with her needs/wants, and to depend upon us for everything. To trust that we are there for her. No matter what.

And this...this brought me bitter disappointment. She didn't think to call for us. She didn't mind rolling around in her vomit all night. She didn't know we'd come. That we'd help her, clean up the mess and restore her to a pleasant, restful sleep.

She didn't know.

Then, deep within my spirit, I felt a pressing, "Do you? Do you know? Do you remember to call out for Someone to assist you? Someone who will come, who will cleanse you and make you right again? Or are you content rolling around in your mess?"

As I looked at my daughter covered in her own vomit, I saw myself.

A couple of months ago, I was struggling with some junk. Some less-than-ideal stuff in my heart that made me feel disgusting. And I knew it. I could see it. I could smell it. I could feel it.

For some time, I dealt with the mess myself. Basically ignoring it, thinking it wasn't that big of a deal. But really all I was doing was "wallering" around in it.

Until I realized I needed help. My mess was too overwhelming for me to handle alone. So one evening, after days of private battle, of moments in solitary prayer, I opened my mouth and shared my struggles, my shortcomings, my sin, with a couple of friends.

I did what James 5:16 says, "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." 

No judgment received. Only concern, compassion, and accountability. I am grateful these loving friends prayed over me that night and have prayed for me for days afterwards.

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
Psalm 51:1-2; 7, 10

"Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"
John 1:29

"They cried to You and were saved; in You they trusted and were not disappointed."
Psalm 22:5

"In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help.
From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
He drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me."
Psalm 18:6, 16-17

Oh, praise the One that came, our Messiah who stepped right into our mess, took it upon Himself and purified us from it. And praise Him that He continues to wash, rinse and repeat as needed.
Both Pearl (and I) can testify to the fact that being clean sure feels better than the alternative!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

From a Panic Attack to God Singing Over Us at an Airport in India

Two months ago, the night before our flight out of Atlanta, the first physical step in thousands of miles we were to take in the direction of our Pearl, I slept for barely two hours.

The burdensome weight of years of waiting for this moment to come, coupled with the reality of what we were actually doing the following morning, combined with the overwhelming sadness of being separated from Gloria and Grace for two weeks finally caught up...and overtook me.

Every kind of emotion, all the excitement, the anticipation, the fear, the tears, and yes, even nausea came out.

What I know now, but didn't comprehend then, was that I had a panic attack.  And it was bad.  Very bad.

Even though the anxiety inside me was greater than either my body or my mind has ever experienced, even though I was balled up on my bathroom floor, I still heard a very specific, very real command spoken to my spirit.

"Stand firm."

It was one I'd noticed God emphasizing, highlighting to me from His Word for weeks leading up to that moment.

"Finally, be strong in the LORD and in His mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God
so that you can take your STAND against the devil's schemes...
Therefore put on the full armor of God,
so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to STAND your ground,
and after you have done everything, to STAND
STAND FIRM then..." Ephesians 6:10-14a
In those middle of the night moments, I wavered. I doubted. I lost faith. Every promise God had given us, all the miraculous deeds He'd done on our behalf, all the hope of the future nearly flew out the window.  I was weak and crippled by fear.

"Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ's power may rest on me...
For when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
The very same One whose powerful words spoke all of creation, all of life into existence, spoke to me, cared enough for His daughter's trembling heart, to speak and to comfort and to infuse courage back into it.
And the next morning?
Though weeping may remain for a night, rejoicing comes in the morning!

Exhausted, yet elated, we boarded our first flight and left America behind. We flew about nine hours, landed in Frankfurt, Germany, had a six-hour layover and then boarded our second flight. We flew eight hours and finally landed at the Delhi airport in India.
It was just after midnight when we arrived. Though beautiful and exotic, nothing was familiar. We truly felt like the foreigners we were in a distant land.
We stood in line to get our boarding passes for our next flight, the one to Pune, where Pearl's orphanage was located.  We went through security and began our long trek to the other side of the airport where our next departure gate was located. 
Since we had several hours before our connecting flight, we decided to find a quiet place to take a moment to collect ourselves. We found just that in a more secluded area of the airport, right in front of a coffee shop.
Most of this side of the airport was still asleep. The refreshment stands and restaurants were not open for business, it being 3:00am local time. The atmosphere was calm and peaceful. Just what we needed after all the hustle and bustle through which we'd just come.
The coffee shop was just opening their doors for the business of the day.  Derek and I sat down at a table several yards in front of the store. 
Derek began looking over some of our important documents, the itinerary, etc., while I put my feet up and reflected over all that we'd been through the past 24+ hours.  All the travel, all the roller coasters of feelings I was still battling, all the requirements that still had to be met to get our girl.
We'd only been seated a couple of minutes when someone, somewhere, turned on some music. Just a couple of notes played through the speakers, breaking the eerie silence, when Derek and I looked up from our own personal revelries, locked eyes and gasped.
We could not believe what our ears were hearing.
In the middle of Indira Gandhi International Airport, in the capital of India, in the midst of all things Indian, this is what we heard from a voice we recognized immediately:
"Oh, I've heard a thousand stories of what they think you're like
But I've heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you're pleased
And that I'm never alone.
You're a Good, Good Father
It's who You are, it's who You are, it's who You are
And I'm loved by You
It's who I am, it's who I am, it's who I am
Oh, it's love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As you call me deeper still
Into love, love, love...
You're a Good, Good Father
It's who You are, it's who You are, it's who You are
And I'm loved by You
It's who I am, it's who I am, it's who I am."
(Chris Tomlin)
Familiar words from a familiar voice. In a foreign land, far away from all that was familiar to us.
We knew the lyrics of the song well. 
By heart actually.  We humbly join in worship with other believers, other children of the Most High, to sing that song regularly at our church.
We know the Good, Good Father well, too. 
Individually, and as a married couple, we've walked with Him for years.  And yet, He still blew us away with this "tender whisper of love in the dead of night".
Tears fell. From both of our eyes. We were speechless. And overwhelmed. All we could do was remain still.  His presence so thick we were nearly undone.
In a country, in an airport where contemporary praise/worship-filled music most certainly is not the norm, He showed us He was there. Immanuel, God with us. That He sees, that He knows, that He cares about every single detail.

That He goes before us, fights for us and would indeed be our "cloud by day" and "fire by night" on this journey. And most of all, that He is the Father to the fatherless.
That moment gave us an unexplainable, incomprehensible peace we hadn't had before, erasing anxiety and fear, causing an immense, all-encompassing, bold-as-lions courage to swell inside our hearts.
How could we ever forget that moment?
The moment when God proved (once again) how perfect He is in all His ways.  When He took over the sound system, the intercom, in a Hindu-dominated country so that His daughter and His son might be encouraged with familiarity, with Truth, and the closeness of His presence.
Only His mighty arm is that strong and only His Father's heart is that personal, that intentional and that attentive to what His children need at just the moment they need it.
Only a Good, Good Father does that.
"The LORD your God is with you,
He is mighty to save. 
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17
**For the record (or for any doubting Thomas's out there),we sat and listened to hours of music following this incident while we waited for our next flight.  NEVER was there any other song similar to this (or even sung in English for that matter) played over the airwaves while we were at the airport.**

Monday, May 30, 2016

Pearl's Been Home for 1 Month! How Our New Normal is Going...

Tonight we went to a park.
We had a picnic, played on the playground, took a walk and rode bikes.  All normal things that other families do.  Except that we had a super special reason to celebrate our family time together.
One month ago today, we stepped off an airplane and began our new normal as a family of five.
As you may have already read or seen from my posts on Facebook, things are really, truly, going surprisingly well so far. Pearl has adjusted. Grace and Gloria have adjusted. We have adjusted.
We have a list a mile long of things we are grateful for, things we (& others) have prayed specifically for that God, in His kindness and generosity, have answered.
But...according to some adoption "experts" and others who've adopted (i.e. Jen Hatmaker), we are still in the honeymoon stage, basking in all the newness, but with a (possible) harsh reality around the corner.
If be it.
But tonight, I wanted to chronicle just how well the past month has been going.
I'll start with the most popular question we've gotten: "How are things with Pearl and Derek?"
Let me just tell you how stinkin' excited I am to say, "SO much better!"  
Bless him.  He has had to work really, really hard to gain her trust and frankly, get her to like him.  Sometimes he said he felt like Adam Sandler's character relating to Drew Barrymore's character in the movie, "50 First Dates". He and Pearl would be best buds by bedtime, but unfortunately would have to start from scratch the very next day.  But his pursuit of her has definitely paid off and perseverance, persistence, and love have won.
The two of them go for nightly walks outside. He reads to her. He pretty much does the whole bedtime routine and just today, held her during the entire church service. Pearl returns his love with big kisses, high-five's and "knuckles" constantly.
One of my favorite things she likes to do with Derek is to play "Copycat", a game she initiates all on her own. She moves in a certain way (shrugs her shoulder, claps her hands, folds her arms, etc.) and he copies her.  It's really amazing to watch her come up with so many different things and even more hilarious to watch Derek mimic her movements. This type of play keeps her engaged with him and is pure entertainment for the rest of us.
Overall, she is sleeping really well; honestly we can't complain.  She sleeps about 10 hours in the Pack 'n Play next to our bed in the evenings.  She may stir a couple of times during the night, cry out, but then quickly works herself back to sleep, without us having to get up to tend to her. 
During the day, she takes naps in her crib in her bedroom.  While she's gotten better with the routine of going to sleep in her crib, her naps have only averaged about a half hour each this past week. Thirty minutes is not enough for her...or me. But an after-church miracle occurred today when she slept two hours.  Oh, how I'm praying this will be her new routine!  Eventually, our goal will be to transition her to her crib in the evenings.  But for now, this is working and we don't want to throw too much at her, too quickly.
One of the things we are most thankful for is how well she has taken to the variety of foods we eat here.  We were pretty worried when we first came home a month ago, but certainly have no worries now. Our pediatrician was correct. She does want to eat whatever we are eating, especially whatever Grace and Gloria are eating. Positive peer pressure is a wonderful thing! 
Whereas she was a vegan before, she is most certainly an omnivore now.  Each meal she seems to try, and like, something new.  Recently, we've added cucumbers, carrots, grapes and hot dogs to her list. So far, her most favorite foods are sweet potato pancakes, oatmeal, protein smoothies, bananas, dates, pineapple, apples, strawberries, blueberries, cereal, goldfish, string cheese, yogurt, peanut butter sandwiches, black bean/cheese quesadillas, rice, quinoa, spaghetti, hamburgers, pizza, French fries, any kind of bread or dessert (like us all...) & of course, Chick-fil-A nuggets.
Slap some red, white and blue on our girl and call her an American!
It's been so cool watching all that her little brain has been soaking up--all she's seen and heard the past month.  Her level of comprehension is super high; now her vocabulary is attempting to catch up.  She LOVES music and LOVES to dance (especially to Toby Mac).  She also gets in the groove whenever we play some Bollywood for her. She loves when we sing to her.  The song she tries to sing by herself the most is the "ABC song".  Basically she just keeps repeating "A-B-C...A-B-C...A-B-C...", so one of us always has to step in and help girlfriend out with the other 23 letters in the alphabet!
Pearl loves riding in the car, in the stroller, in the wagon, and sitting in her high chair.  All things we were concerned she'd hate when we were back in India.  Bath time is improving, too.  Last night was the first night in a very long time when she didn't cry when the water was turned on and when she sat down in the tub.  This is a very good thing.  Not only for bath time, but also for our upcoming trips to the pool. We're all pretty curious as to how she'll do in a huge "tub" of water; maybe somebody could invite us to come swim so we can find out? :)  Good news is that she has a darling new swimsuit we can't wait for her to wear.  At the very least, she'll look adorable if she decides to throw a ballistic fit.
Her interest in toys has grown the last month as well.  Basically, we've had to teach her "how to play" from the get-go.  We're not sure how she spent her time in the orphanage all day, but thanks to her big sisters, she is learning how to play with baby dolls, Barbie's, and stuffed animals (which she's still not a fan of).  She is easily entertained with any toys with music and/or buttons that play music, so we're relieved to know she's a typical two-year old in that sense.
Pearl loves both of her sisters very much and squeals whenever she is reunited with one of them, even if it's only been a super short time since she saw them last. As anyone might have guessed, Grace is basically a second mama to her, loves to play with her, thinks whatever she does is adorable, and actually enjoys changing her diapers. Gloria is her playmate, but also her competition. The two of them play wonderfully together, but can also butt heads. Gloria comes up with some of the greatest games for them to play, but can also aggravate her little sister a bit, too. We think she seems to be enjoying her new role as a big sis, and all the privileges (and power ;) ) that come with it. Both Grace and Gloria are amazing helpers to us and Pearl.  We have been completely blown away at their fierce love for Pearl and how they constantly care for her.  We are SO proud of them!
And thanks to them, to Derek's new relationship with her, and to "blanket/towel time", I am finding some freedom and a little of my personal space back.  Whereas Pearl has been my shadow (um...leech) the past month, signs of great growth and security in her and in her relationship with the other members of the family are completely evident now.  I love that I am able to spread a towel or blanket in the kitchen while I prepare food, upstairs next to the desk while I work on the computer, or in my bedroom while I get dressed, place some toys on the towel, tell her to sit down and she will play contentedly a few feet away from me while I accomplish what I need to accomplish.  It's like a miracle. A super awesome miracle! (Thanks to my friend, Kelly, for reminding me of this tip, which I'd totally forgotten over the years.)
The past month has been filled with way too many emotions to record here, but my favorite by far, is joy.  We have laughed more the past month than honestly, I thought we would, especially this early in the game. 
I knew adoption was hard work.
I knew going back to the toddler years would be hard work. 
I knew language acquisition would be hard work. 
I knew that making sure my bio girls were okay, felt loved and acknowledged would be hard work. 
I knew staying connected to my husband would be hard work. 
I knew learning to care for a new little person in our home would be hard work. 
But I didn't know, or consider, or make room for, the tiniest, spontaneous, light-hearted, unexpected joy-filled moments along the way, even when I had actually prayed for them.  Shame on me for that.
One month into this new normal and we all have far more to be grateful for than to belly-ache about.  We still shake our heads in wonder and awe at how God orchestrated this entire thing. 
How he would draw us to the country of India, break our hearts for the mistreatment of girls in India, call us to adopt a little girl from India, provide for us to get to go to India, then match us with our daughter, whom no one would ever suspect, or guess, or believe, was born in India, but instead, actually looks a whole lot like us. Crazy.
Only a creative God could write a story like that. We are so humbled we are a part of that story. For His purpose. For His glory. For Pearl's present and for her future. 
"I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which He is to be praised,
according to all the LORD has done for us--
yes, the many good things He has done for the house of Israel (Fort),
according to His compassion and many kindnesses." Isaiah 63:7
Looking ahead and looking forward to all the awesome works He will perform for, and in, our family.  Here's to month two and beyond!


Monday, May 2, 2016

Home Sweet Home...update! (originally posted on Facebook)

Fort Family of 5! 
Airport reunion--after nearly two weeks in India, the whole family is now together!
There's no place like home!
We've been home 3 days now and are settling into our "new normal" pretty well so far. 
Both Derek and I are still recuperating from the BIGGEST, most STRESSFUL, yet most EXHILARATING thing we've ever done in our lives and are feeling like we can begin to breathe again. 
I have adapted back to Georgia time much more easily than Derek, mostly because I hardly ever slept in India. Derek is suffering from some jet lag; SO grateful he has this week off to rest and also to be a part of the cocooning stage--trying to keep Pearl's world small as she learns to live with us as her new family. 

Cabin fever got the best of us tonight though, so we ventured out for a quick drive to the library to return some books. Short and simple, but at least Pearl got to take her first trip in our van and in her new car seat. She did fabulously well! Good thing...because we have to take her out again tomorrow for her first doctor's appt. 

Speaking of Pearl, we think she is totally rockin' it! With the numerous changes in her little life, she is demonstrating overwhelming resiliency to it all. Of course we've had some trying moments, but honestly, we can't complain. In so many ways, her merging with us has been so much better than so many cases we've heard/read about. As we suspected she would, she LOVES her sisters--easily entertained by them and learning so much from them. She has said both of their names already, which Grace and Gloria love. She is always reaching for their hands and is very interested in what they are doing.

Derek and Pearl are making positive strides in their relationship also. He has been taking her out for walks in the evenings and is still feeding her for the most part. She loves for him to do, "This little piggy" with her feet. Cracks us up how she will voluntarily lift up her feet to him so he can "wee, wee, wee all the way home." She also loves to give him high fives. Those are their special things right now. 

Through all the struggles Derek has experienced with gaining Pearl's trust and love, God has been painting a pristinely clear picture of His abundant, never-ceasing, always patient, always pursuing love for us. Sometimes I'm speechless when I watch how Derek models Jesus to Pearl. She will more than likely never understand the magnitude or the extent Derek (and I) went to to get her, the sacrifices, all the work. But it doesn't matter. Christ did all He did for us and we will never fully "get" all He did either. 
We continuously choose and constantly prefer so many other interests other than Him, even though He is always present and ready to extend His love to us. We will never fully comprehend all He did to save us, ransom us and make a way for us to be adopted into His family. 

Though her reactions are not always consistent, Pearl still turns away from Derek sometimes and doesn't like to be taken from me or be away from me. She prefers that I pick her up, be there when she wakes up, and console her when she's upset. She's still sleeping with us--part of that trust-based parenting and attachment necessary for her well-being right now. I have to be honest though...I will be very glad when she transitions to her crib. Hope that doesn't sound bad--just would love to have the extra space back in our bed!

The first two days we were home, we struggled to get Pearl to eat. In India, she developed quite the sweet tooth. For example, one of the main dishes she ate was white rice, whole milk and sugar. Yep. She also likes just about any kind of bread and dessert. We went with it there in India because we were just in survival mode, but have been trying to rectify her diet since we've been home. I was pretty worried about her lack of nutrition last night and sent a message out to my fabulous India group here on FB. They came back with some various options--some which I'd already thought to try. I'm happy to say, we had some great success today! And I couldn't have done it without my Ninja blender! It helped me be sneaky with our little one's meals. 

Whatever weight Derek and I lost in India (and we did lose quite a few pounds), we are gaining back in spades because of all the meals coming our way each evening. We are so richly blessed to have such amazing friends/family who are bringing us dinner, who have cut our grass, filled our fridge with groceries, placed fresh flowers around the house, made a welcome banner, put a huge pink bow on our mailbox (which has all our neighbors perplexed) given gift cards, purchased precious new outfits for Pearl, took amazing care of and loved on our girls while we were gone, and so on, and so on. We can't say enough about the abundant generosity that has been shown to us. We are just so incredibly grateful and in awe of all the love and prayers!! THANK YOU!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

India/Pearl recap #4 (originally posted on Facebook while in India)

Let's get physical...or at least talk about some physical stuff here at the beginning with all three of us.

As I wrote about in my last blog post the day we left Atlanta, and as you may have noticed, Pearl obviously doesn't look like she is from India. According to her medical records, she has a mild form of albinism, making her skin lighter than it would normally be. 

With that diagnosis also comes some eye issues. The one we are aware of now is nystagmus, a condition that causes Pearl's pupils to twitch back and forth at times. We mostly see this when she is waking up, when she is very tired or when she has high anxiety. A month ago, she was given glasses at the orphanage. The day we took her home, they told us she was to wear them about 2-3 hours a day. We tried the first couple of days we had her, but the pair they gave her is a joke. They're way too big for her little face and continuously fall off. For now, we will wait until we get home and see a pediatric eye doctor and possibly get a new pair based on the diagnosis. 

The other significant, and unfortunate, physical issue is that the back of Pearl's head is pretty flat. It appears as if she did not get enough tummy time when she was an infant and spent too much time lying on her back. At two years old, we're pretty sure it may be too late to try to correct this, but we will find out more after our first visit to her pediatrician when we get home. Not a big deal, but noticeable, that's all. 

Overall, Pearl seems to be very healthy. She does most of what other two year olds can do and she has a fairly good appetite. Other than the three dishes the chefs here at the hotel prepare for her, mostly consisting of rice and either milk/sugar or puréed veggies, she also loves bananas (has a fit when she sees one), brown toast with strawberry jam, honey oats cereal, French toast, oatmeal, graham crackers, peanut butter oat bars that we brought from Trader Joe's, and chocolate cheesecake (like mother, like daughter). She only knew a vegetarian diet at the orphanage. The other day
Derek tried to sneak a teeny tiny piece of shredded chicken in with her rice, but she would have no part, and that chicken came right back out. It's definitely a texture thing right now for her. Praying she will come around and soon, because, hello? Chick-fil-A???

So far, Derek and I are hanging in there as well. We both believe we had a case of "Delhi Belly" (just google it...) even though we have only had bottled water to drink and to brush our teeth with and have carefully avoided fruits and vegetables not in a skin or not cooked. Western tummies are just weak, I guess. I started feeling feverish a couple of days ago, so I started taking an antibiotic our doctor had prescribed and that we brought with us in the event we needed it. SO grateful for modern medicine! 

Pearl's personality has started peeking out more and more each day. She has many gentle and also helpful tendencies. She loves to put things away for us and even helped me bag up some of my dirty laundry yesterday. This just blessed my heart because what Mom couldn't use an extra hand around the house?!? We have also observed a playful, slightly mischievous side. Mostly, I think it's her way of bonding with me even more--checking to see if I see her about to touch the plug or cell phone or alarm clock or eyeglass case or whatever that I've asked her not to touch. Bonding and the fact that she is two! 

As far as Derek is concerned, we feel she has moved from really frightened of him, to slightly frightened of him, to tolerating him right now. He actually spent a lot of time with her alone today, even taking her down to breakfast by himself, which is huge--for her not him. She was doing amazingly well when I saw them at the table when I came down later. But I came down, and she saw me, and came undone. It's like he's okay until she has another option...mommy. One day she will get just how awesome it is to have a daddy--especially the BEST one there is! Derek said he will probably lose it the first time she willingly comes to him, just because she wants to be with him. (Now y'all don't tell him I told you that...)

We finally did a little sightseeing around Delhi yesterday. We hired a driver and he took us around to some of the most prominent places in the city. Pearl did amazingly well and was actually the sought after prize everywhere we went. Tons of people kept stopping me asking if they could get a picture with her, with me, and sometimes Derek, too, but the fascination was with the two of us (bleached blonde hair and fair skin will do that). 

Sometimes we would stop and be gracious to pose for a pic, but other times it got out of hand. At one point, I could hear a crowd gathering behind us, shouting, "Excuse me! Excuse me!" Starting to feel a little threatened, I told Derek, "Keep going!", basically running out of the historic site. Back in the car, I asked Derek if he thought that must be a very small taste of what it feels like to be a celebrity. He said, "Probably. But the difference is that they have body guards." 

The best part of the day happened this afternoon. After over four hours of waiting in two different offices (CARA & FRRO), we got the last documents we need to travel home! NO GLITCHES with the paperwork!!! Hallelujah to the Amen, brothers and sisters!!!

We cannot help but praise our God, our sole Provider, the One who has been our cloud by day and our fire at night, the One who came ahead of us and prepared the way for our arrival and now our departure, all because of the unfathomable, unyielding, intentional, intimate love He has for this one little girl lying in the bed asleep, nestled between a mommy and daddy, two unheard of, unimagined people she didn't even know she needed, who heard Him whisper to their hearts to go. Go farther than their minds could have ever imagined, farther than their hearts have ever felt and farther than their legs have ever traveled. To go in search of their Pearl. 

When I finish writing this update, I will go to bed tonight exhausted, because I haven't slept well the past week, but so, so grateful. Thank you for every. single. time you stopped and breathed our names to the One who thought this up for us in the first place. You carried us here, placing us at the feet of Jesus, in every moment of every day. Now...please pray us home!

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