The burritos are on their way.  That’s the good news.  Like manna from heaven, the Lord is sending me a burrito. I’m a weak-willed woman and 30 minutes ago was trying to figure out how hard it would be to get home.  But I am won over again with a burrito.

Fred is sick.  He hasn’t been sick his whole life, but of course gets sick the first week in Rwanda when I am supposed to be starting work.  I guess I shouldn’t have let him suck on the seatbelts on the plane and lick the floor of our new home.  Live and learn.

Enough dramatics!  Let’s see some pics.  Here’s the view from our front yard and front gate.


Front gate

Our surrogate dogs – don’t tell Lucy!


Fred’s diapers drying on the clothesline.


The golf course.


Kigali mountainside.


I told you it was beautiful here!

This is our life

I don’t think I will ever get tired of listening to and watching BB use sign language, noises and hand gestures to communicate.  He’s not scared and has no self-consciousness whatsoever.  I love it.  Plus, he makes this hilarious “swishing” sound.  I just can’t describe it, but it warms my heart.

We are here in this gorgeous paradise called Kigali. Seriously, if it had the ocean, it would be just as beautiful as California or Hawaii. The weather has been perfect.  Apparently it won’t rain until September so it’s quite dry, but it’s cool in the mornings.

Fred did amazingly well on the plane. No surprise there.  Has there ever been a better baby? His sleep is a little off, but so is mine.

I’ve been in a little bit of a funk.  Sad to leave family and hard to adjust to the new normal. It usually takes me a few days – need to sleep and eat.  Still working out those details.  Having Fred with us makes exploring a little more difficult.  We don’t have a car, and while we can walk places, we have to have the energy to lather him with sunscreen, pack up and hit the road.  Not quite the days of being just the two of us.  We will get it down eventually.

Since we are renting a house, we have “house staff” – a guard who watches the property at night, a woman who comes during the week days to clean, market, do laundry, and cook, and another woman who comes over the weekend to watch the house and do yard work.  It takes a little getting used to – always having someone around.  It definitely makes you feel safe though, and it’s fun to get to know some locals (since they don’t speak English or French, this is where BB’s sign language comes in).

It’s almost 5:30 p.m.  Earlier we walked to the market, but it was closed. Fred’s asleep under his bug net after taking a bucket bath of boiled water.  I just tried to warm up some meat and potatoes, but the gas is out.  BB and Mama R just lit a big charcoal fire so we can heat our dinner outside on the porch.  This is our life.  I think I’m going to like it.

On our way!

From the looks of it, you wouldn’t think we have actually gotten rid of anything, but I promise we did.

It is quite sobering though. I feel like my full time job for the last 4 months has been getting rid of stuff and packing. There’s still more stuff in our parents’ basements, but we have done ok. But the packing is finished! Hallelujah!

More blogging to come from Rwanda!




He is Risen.

We are in Cincinnati this weekend enjoying this beautiful weather and time with family. Fred did great on the road trip, and I enjoyed my mandatory Chick Fil A milkshake.

I haven’t had a lot of time or drive to really ponder Holy Week. We missed church last week, but I enjoyed BB’s performance of the St. John Passion.

The passion story always brings me to my knees. It’s the real deal. The most powerful series of events on human history and will only be topped by Christ’s almighty return. His body, broken for us. The fulfillment of 100s of years of prophesy. How do I even comprehend a small part of what this means for me and the world?

And the resurrection. The true hope. Our only hope. The hope for the abandoned child, the homeless alcoholic, the young girl in chains, the murderer in prison, the sin-wrought young(ish) mother in Chicago. If Christ is risen from the dead, there is hope of redemption. If He didn’t, we have nothing.

Father, may I never forget from where I’ve come. Dead. By your sacrifice, raised to new life.

Happy Easter!

Christmas 2012

I so wanted to post a Merry Christmas picture from us, but we can’t seem to ever remember to charge the camera battery.

We had a really nice Christmas with my family this past weekend filled with food, laughs, more food, some drama, and a home movie.  This year, since we were foregoing gifts, my sister and I suggested that we do something fun together instead.  I was thinking – go see a movie.  My dad decided – make our own movie.  Complete with scripts, props, and sets we acted out the movie It’s A Wonderful Life.  Yes, it’s recorded.  It will be hilarious in about 10 years.  For now, it’s slightly embarrassing.

We had a lot of fun doing it, and by the end, we threw out the scripts and were improvising scenes based on memory.  My dad hung up floodlights from the roof so that we could shoot scenes outside and hand-painted a grave for Harry Bailey.  We don’t mess around.

BB was a great sport after he was cast in the demanding role of George Bailey.  He was amazingly wonderful at impersonating Jimmy Stewart.  My mom gave an Oscar-winning performance as Ma Bailey, and my sister added some much needed sound effects.

The no gifts for Baby Bean rule turned out it’s fair share of drama on Christmas morning, but we came home relatively unscathed.

I’m not sad the holidays are over.  While we did our best to put on smiling faces, I think these were by far the hardest set of holidays we have ever experienced.  Three years ago I had a miscarriage a few weeks before Christmas, and while that was not fun, this was so much worse.  Earlier this year I swore I would boycott the holidays if I was still childless, and I sort of regret going back on my word.

The holidays are always rough because expectations are so high.  You are supposed to be happy!  It’s the hap happiest time of the year!  You’re not allowed to be sad.  If you are sad or grumpy, you ruin it for everyone.  You’re a grinch.

This year, I felt an extreme amount of pressure from everyone around me to be happy and excited about the baby.  To get over the sadness.  People are uncomfortable with continuing sadness and grief.  We don’t like those negative emotions.  Think positive.  Think positive.  A silver lining must be found.  As soon as this baby comes, all will be well.

Why are we so uncomfortable with these feelings of sadness, anger, grief, fear?  It can’t be because they are unfamiliar.  Everyone I know has something to grieve over.

The fact is that we are still grieving.  No disrespect to Baby Bean, but 2012 will always be about those three babies that we didn’t get to bring home.  This Christmas, for us, was a time of mourning.  We were supposed to be home with our family of 5.  There were three missing cousins at Thanksgiving, and there are empty stockings over our fireplace.

I know that people want us to be happy.  They want us to look forward, accept their gifts, talk about how fun it will be next Christmas, but we aren’t there yet.   And frankly, I don’t really want to be there.  I want it to be ok to be sad.  I want people to respect that our broken hearts are still in Congo.

People were upset with us this Christmas because we didn’t want gifts for Baby Bean.  I get it.  We are weird and not doing things in the way that everyone wants and expects.  I get that it’s annoying when people make weird choices that you don’t agree with – I spend most of my life bossing people around.

The fact of the matter is that I just donated the last items of clothing that we had for the kids.  We still have bunk beds up because I can’t quite give up the dream that there will be bodies to fill them someday.  The room isn’t decorated for a baby.  We still call it “the kids’ room.”  I just finally worked up the nerve to sort through the photos that my friend took down before we got back from DRC.

The tears are still flowing over here in 2012.  2013 may be different.  I can’t say for sure.  Does anyone ever really get over a broken heart?

BB memorized Rev. 21:1-4 this year.  I love it.  I could hear him recite it every day.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.  Come!

Happy Birthday BB!

Saturday was BB’s 35th birthday.  Unfortunately for him, I was up all night sick on Friday night, and sick and pregnant trumps birthday every time.  He says it was his favorite birthday ever because no one required him to do anything, there were no plans, and he got to do whatever he wanted [which was work and watch Parenthood].  So noted for next year.

In other good news, Christmas music and movies are fair game now that we are past the birthday.

Now that I am recovered, I can write my birthday blog post.  In honor of my sweetheart, here are 35 unique things that I love about him.

1.  See opening paragraph.  His birthday dream is for no one to talk to him so he can work all day.

2.  If given his way, he would eat all his meals over the sink in the kitchen without utensils or plates so as to avoid having to do dishes (or talk to anyone – see no. 1, no talking is a big thing for him).

3.  He packs his lunch (and often dinner) every day of the week.

4.  He needs to eat at least one serving of peanut butter a day (preferably more).

5.  He has the will power of a Navy Seal.  I don’t think he cheated once in seven months of fasting and would have kept going if I had let him.

6.  Sweets are not his thing.  He will eat one bite of an ice cream sandwich and then out it back into the freezer.  Thus, it will take him two weeks to eat one ice cream sandwich.  He will often look for something I baked weeks later and be shocked that there is nothing left.

7.  He rides his bike to work.  I find that adorable.

8.  He ran the Chicago marathon in tiny hot pink shorts so that it would be easy for me to find him.

9.  The first CD he ever bought was Lionel Richie’s “Hello” because he had a crush on a girl, and the song Hello made him think of her.

10.  He’s still basically only wearing seven items of clothing and hasn’t purchased a single thing for himself since the fast began in February.

11.  He’s ridiculously smart, but he hates to read.

12.  When he works from home, he wants me to sit next to him (but not talk, obviously).

13.  Two years ago he led a week-long VBS at our church as the lead singer of a New Zealand rock band (we were into Flight of the Concords that year) complete with accent, and there are still people at church who think that he is from New Zealand (or England – people aren’t great with identifying accents).

14.  When we went on our first date, BB said we needed to discuss two things before we went any further as a couple – first, I would have to take his last name should we marry, and second, I would need to be ok with our nine year old son spending two weeks at summer camp in Maine.  I agreed to both since I liked the idea of having a new name and wasn’t particularly attached to our fictitious kids at the time.  [Luckily I don’t have to worry about the camp thing any more since there’s no way BB would spend that kind of money on camp now even if we ever had it!]

15.  Also when we were dating, BB’s friend Steve (the Prophet, as we call him) prophesied that I would break his heart.  BB was quite distraught and got him to change the prophesy to “break his heart or marry him.”  Both have come true.

16.  When going on vacation, especially international trips, BB refuses to make any reservations for lodging until the last possible moment (i.e., we are tired and need somewhere to sleep).  He really does not like to commit to reservations for anything.  This has made for some fun times, to be sure.

17.  Oh my.  Only halfway through.  This was sort of a big goal, eh?  It took BB three months to read the first Harry Potter book because “he just couldn’t get into it.”  What is wrong with him??

18.  BB has an opinion about everything.  Seriously.  The words “whatever, I don’t care” have never come past his lips.  Seriously, ask him about clothes, shoes, furniture, work, church, food, surprise parties, pets, child-rearing, breastfeeding, weddings, hair length, coming of age movies.  He has a formed opinion about anything you can think of!  It’s frustratingly charming.

19.  BB lives a charmed life.  He can leave late and arrive on time.  He can miss a deadline to learn that it was extended.  He can lose $10 and find $20.

20.  He has a Facebook account, but I am not his friend.

21.  He believes in me to an unreasonable level.  I’m starting to believe him, and it’s getting risky.

22.  He is an amazing uncle.  He will play with his nephews for hours on end, is determined to learn about them, and has written songs for two of them so far (the rest are in the works.)

23.  He never gives up.  He will work on a project until it’s perfect.  He sees the best in people and truly believes that they will reach it.

24.  He loves Jesus.  So much.  His submission to God is commendable.  His love for the Lord pours out in his love of others.

25.  If he really has to hang out with other humans, he would prefer them to be homeless and/or immigrants.

26.  He cooks, cleans, mops, does laundry, walks the dog.  But he will NOT go to the grocery store.  He would rather starve.  In the extreme circumstance where I convinced him to go (I think I did once), he refused to take a list because “it’s like you’re telling me what to do when you’re not there.”

27.  He has a lovely singing voice.  Still makes my heart melt after all these years.

28.  BB has fiercely close friendships (although you wonder how since he prefers to not talk to people…).  He still has extremely intimate friendships with guys from growing up, high school and college.

29.  He once tried to compliment me by saying that I looked like a Jordache ad.

30.  He was kind of a chauvinist when I met him [he would tell people that he married me for my “young womb”], but now he’s a total feminist and will tell you why it’s wrong to ask a woman to cover up while she’s breastfeeding and why there’s nothing wrong with boys wearing pink.

31.  He has endless energy and is always up for the wackiest of ideas.  He’s creative and spontaneous.  Always keeps me on my toes.

32.  BB is so kind.  He couldn’t hurt a fly.  He has a sweet spirit and loves to do things for people.

33.  He is hilarious.  Makes me laugh every single day.

34.  He’s super hot.  It’s not everything, but it goes a long way.

35.  He loves me just the way I am.

My darling BB, I love you dearly and am so glad you were born.  Halfway to 70!  Not bad…

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a great Thanksgiving in Cincinnati with my in-laws.  It was the first time we’ve all been together in five years, and it was a lot of fun.  We have five nephews ages 3-10, and they played together so well.  Reminds me of holidays growing up, playing with my cousins.  It felt like a real holiday. 

The only real downside was that so many people were sick.  It will be a real Thanksgiving miracle if I don’t get deathly ill this week.  Kids are little germ machines.  Not sure I will ever be able to get over that.

I love the holiday season.  I cooked all afternoon today listening to my Neil Diamond Christmas Pandora station.  We haven’t put up our tree yet, but hope to this week.  BB is singing a Messiah concert on Saturday and a Christmas concert on Sunday.  I plan to make cookies tomorrow.  The holiday traditions are so cheery. 

I love the anticipation of Christmas.  Yesterday’s sermon was called The Awaited Son.  The idea of the Jews, angels, shepherds, Magi, Mary all waiting for this cosmic miracle fills me with wonder and joy.  What a day.  The birth of Jesus is the most important moment in human history.

I feel some extra anticipation this year with the birth of our child expected in January.  While not a cosmic miracle with all the ramifications, it’s certainly a miracle we’ve waited for for many years.  I have all the fears and expectations you would expect.  

Spending Thanksgiving with our family really made me feel loved.  We have had so much love and support from everyone in our family through infertility, IVF, adoption and now pregnancy.  It’s quite encouraging that everyone has stuck with us from the beginning.  I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed.  There’s such anticipation with this baby, and I can’t help but worry that I will let everyone down again.  I know it’s out of my control, but when it’s your body, you can’t help but feel responsible.  So many people are counting on this joy.  I must turn it over to Him.  It’s a good reminder of my weakness.  My lack of trust.  Makes me extra thankful for Jesus’ coming.

Being with family always leads to good discussion about our sin.  It’s so easy to see where our weaknesses are when we are with people related to us and people who challenge us.  We spent a lot of time discussing how it would be so nice if we could really conquer our sin – we know what it is.  We know how to stop it.  But our flesh is so weak.  So much so that God had to orchestrate a supernatural occurrence to save us.  No amount of our efforts will ever make a dent in our sin.  It’s discouraging, but a message of hope.  Jesus conquered our sin for us.  We will continue to struggle until our own death, but the real battle was won in the days that followed the birth of the Savior.