We are heading back to Uganda....today! Finally going to court to hopefully bring G home!
I figured now was a good time to get back to blogging. Just a quick update...
We are all going over (with the exception of Alex). Thom leaves right after court then it will just be and the girls staying in Uganda to complete the process. We are so excited to be heading back over there and I'm really excited that Ava and Gabi are going with us this time. Nothing like a field trip to Africa....with a brief stop over in London on the way :)
I will use the blog to keep you updated and to eventually introduce you all to the newest addition to the Asta family!
So Valentine's Day is tomorrow. I thought it would be appropriate to write about my first love...my dad.
I have found myself thinking of him so much lately. It seems that everywhere I go I am reminded of him. I guess since his passing in September, I have been really good about keeping myself busy. Our adoption process has taken up so much of my time and combine that with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and our recent trip to Uganda along with life with 3 children and it is easy to see how I was able to forget put aside how much I miss my dad. Now that things have calmed down a bit, everything reminds me of him. There is an emptiness in my life without him here. The realization that he is not going to pick up the phone when I call or walk down the hall when I go home to visit. It makes me so sad to know that Alex, along with his younger cousins, Riley and Mason will never know who their grandfather was. As sad as I am that he isn't here, I have a peace that he is right where he should be. I know he is with Jesus and is perfect and happy and more beautiful than I can imagine. I also know that I will see him again some day. I still miss him. I still selfishly want him here with us.
At my dad's funeral I had the honor of speaking and sharing a little about my his life. I wanted to let people know who Shad Phillips was through my eyes and I'd like to share some of what I said here.
"My daddy was one of the greatest blessings of my life and I know that without him I wouldn't be the woman I am today. He supported me, encouraged me and loved me. He was a good man with a big heart who was always willing to help out anyone in need. If you needed a place to stay, our home was always open. If you needed money, he'd give what he had and if you had something that needed to be repaired the he would grab his tools and come fix it. He was the dad who never missed a dance recital or sporting event. In fact, he was the coach for many of the teams my brothers and I were on. He loved to fish on the pier at the beach and when I was young, I loved the nights he would let me tag along so I could just sit with him in the silence while we waited for a fish to bite. As I got older, I can recall many nights of him sitting with me on my bed talking me through one teenage crisis after another. Lastly, one of my favorite memories is of riding in the car and listening to him sing along to old school country music and my friends and I giggling because we thought he sounded like Kenny Rogers."
What I would do to hear his voice again. To see his face again. To hug him and tell him I love him.
They say that a father is a daughter's first love. I believe this is true.
He was my first love.
He was my hero.
He was my daddy.
That's how long we have before Thom and I are on a plane to Uganda.
As excited as I am....I'll admit, I'm also a little afraid.
Afraid of being away from my children for so long
Afraid of going through the process alone once Thom leaves to come home
Afraid the judge will say no
Afraid of flying home alone with both girls if he says yes
But mostly afraid that I will rely too much on myself and not enough on Him
I've been in this place before. 3 months ago as I walked to my dad's hospital room, the fear was so intense that I thought my legs would give out. I could hardly breathe. Fear paralyzed me as I waited to open his door, knowing what was waiting on the other side. It was time to say goodbye.... and God held me up. He reminded me to breathe.
Why do I forget so easily? Why do I doubt that He will do it again?
"and He said to them,"Why are you afraid? O' you of little faith?" Then He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea and there was a great calm." ~Matthew 8:26
....a great calm. I feel like I have been in the midst of that calm for months now, while the waves are crashing all around me.
It's a good place to be.
In the palm of His hand.
That's right where I want to stay.
When fear begins to creep in, I have to remember that this is His story...not mine. Whatever happens will be for His glory.
A few weeks away from my husband and children here is a small price to pay if it means two little girls get a family and a home.
Just writing this post has actually encouraged me and made me feel less afraid. I don't know what the next few months are going to look like, but I do know that life is meant to be lived!
Fear should make us take action, not keep us from moving forward.
The last few weeks have been exhausting to say the least. We got a court date for P, then my dad passed away, then we got a court date for G (in January), then just as I was getting ready to travel to Uganda, we lost the court date for P. Losing the date was all a big misunderstanding with our attorney in Uganda, and although I was hugely disappointed at first, we are completely at peace with it all now.
I feel like I am finally able to breathe for the first time in a month. I just want to be here and be present. I want to get through the holidays and mourn the passing of my father. If I had gone to Uganda, I would have gone from one very emotional experience to another with little time to process either of them before heading back to Uganda in January. I was willing to do it if that was how it was supposed to go, but I also have always heard that God only gives us what we can handle. I feel like this was a huge answer to prayer.
So, for now it is life as usual with just our family of 5. The heaviness of loosing my father is slowly lifting and in its place excitement is growing. Excitement that we will be traveling to Uganda in January, and Lord willing, find favor in the eyes of the judges and bring both girls home to live in our family forever.
While I was hoping to have the girls home by Christmas and to even celebrate one of the girl's birthdays while I was there in November...this is right. This plan, that is not of our own doing, is right.
I don't think I have never felt more at peace in my life than I do right now. It truly is a peace that passes all understanding and for that, I am thankful!
September 27th was a good day. My dad, although still critically ill, had made it through the crucial first 48 hours after his surgery. He was alert, talking and even making jokes with his nurses. We had hope that he'd pull through just like he always has. After all, he has fought cancer....twice... and beat it both times.
That same day, we got the news we've been waiting to hear for months....we have a court date for one of the girls. I was so excited I couldn't wait to rush back to his room to give him the news. I was able to tell him, and of course, he was so happy about it and even shared the news with his nurse that evening before I went home.
Three days later I lost my daddy.
The excitement and hope from 3 days earlier was completely gone. Losing him has been more painful than anything I could have ever imagined. My heart feels so heavy at times that I just want to curl up in bed and cry until it feels better. And it does feel better...for a time, then out of the blue it comes back and brings me to my knees.
During this time, in the back of my mind, I've been thinking of November 1st and that I am supposed to be in front of a judge in Uganda with our sweet P, hoping to finally bring her home to be a part of our family.
How will I fly half way across the world when I can hardly bring myself to get out of bed?
How will I go and leave my mom when she needs me the most?
I'll do it because I've made a commitment to P and G.
I'll do it because I told them I would be back.
I'll do it because my daddy thought so much of those girls and he would want me to. Heck, if he was here and well enough, he'd be on the plane with me.
I'll do it because my mom has decided that she will go with me :)
My mom, who has never been out of the country and hates to fly is going with me to Uganda to hopefully bring her newest granddaughter home. Isn't that beautiful?
As the fog of the last couple of weeks is finally starting to lift, I am beginning to see glimpses of joy and beauty again. The one thing that has stayed constant through all of this is the goodness of God and his mercy and grace. I've seen him hold other people up in times of tragedy and loss and prayed that he would do the same for me....and he has. There is great sadness and mourning for my dad as it should be. He was a great, caring, loving, sometimes ornery man, who loved his family well and he is going to be missed terribly. But in the midst of this there is a great peace that passes understanding, a hope of a better life.
As much as I loved him, Jesus loved him more.
I don't know why we had to lose him now. But I do know that God's timing is perfect and he can bring beauty and happiness out of the darkest situations. I know this because he is doing it in my life right now.
So tomorrow, I will wake up and get out of bed. I will cry and mourn the loss of my dad, then I will spend the day loving my children and my husband, checking on my mom and living life.
In three weeks my mom and I will fly to Uganda. I will give those girls a big hug from their papa. Hopefully soon we will have them both home and I can tell them all about their papa and how he was so excited for them to join our family and how he would tell anyone who would listen all about them.
God is preparing our hearts for something big. I know adoption is not for the weak (so I've heard), but I think after these last few weeks, I can handle just about anything that comes our way. Besides we aren't alone in this...never have been.
I want to live the rest of my life to honor the sacrifice that Jesus made for me....for my dad. How do you say thank you for that?
My answer? ....to love well. To have my life reflect less of me and more of Him.
Well, I have been pretty pathetic about the whole blogging thing lately. We had just started school when I wrote my last post and honestly it has taken me this long to get adjusted to it. After a summer full of laziness, I completely forgot how busy the day is when we are homeschooling. Showers and house keeping have taken a back seat and trust me it ain't pretty....but after a break down (or two) and some schedule adjustments, and hiring a sitter to help out with Alex in the mornings, we are finally getting back into the swing of things around here.
In adoption news...All of our paperwork (well almost all of it) is in Uganda with our lawyer . Yay! This is a huge! I just have to send an update to our homestudy tomorrow since Thom switched jobs. I'm not sure if she needs that to submit to court but even if she does, she will likely have it by the end of the week. It's still pretty uncertain but I'm thinking that there is a big possibility that we could be there this time next month.
We were surprised with a skype call with them last Friday and I can't even explain how happy I was when their faces came up on the screen...it was just all smiles from here to Uganda. We were all just giddy with excitement! It was only a 10 minute call, but we were so happy to let them know that we are still coming and that it will hopefully be soon!
We spent all last weekend getting the rooms ready. Nothing like a hurricane rolling through to get you in the painting mood. I spent all day and into the night painting the little girls' room and it looks "stunning" as Gabi described it. Here is a peak into the new improved rooms.
the older girls' room
the younger girls' room
They are still a work in progress but we are almost done. I always find it sad to paint the kids' rooms. I feel like it closes a chapter in our lives...their choices in colors always change from little kid to big kid and in the case of both girls, they always start out pink until they realize there are other colors in the world. This time it was more bittersweet. Even though I was painting over the light pink walls in the room Ava and Gabi once shared, it was exciting to be decorating and making room for our expanding family.
As excited as I am to go get those girls, I can't even think about it! I get so overwhelmed thinking about the logistics of it all....childcare, long plane rides, standing before a judge-not once but twice, embassy appointments, visas, traveling home alone with 2 little girls who have never been out of their small village, missing my kids here. I could go on and on and see, now I am getting myself worked up!
Whew! Just Breathe....
It's very much like childbirth. You don't want to go through the labor because it is so difficult and so painful but you know what is waiting on the the other side....your child.
Adoption is difficult and can be emotionally painful at times and I wish we didn't have to go through the hard part but I know what is waiting on the other side...our children.