Saturday, December 24, 2011

Days 7-2 of A Patrick Christmas

The highlight of our new Christmas traditions in Memphis was Linny and Elba visiting.  The Kids opened their gifts from them on this day and we went to see Christmas lights the night before.

Another gun, I mean fun, tradition is the boys basketball party!  We had about 15-20 guys at our house for pizza, Crumpy's (Orange Mound Special:note the tin on the counter with 150 wings in it!), and presents for all.  It was a blast and glad that Linny and Elba were able to share in it.  Arm wrestling was the event of the night:)

We went to the Enchanted Forest at the Pink Palace and had a scavenger hunt and pictures with Santa.

Our saddest day of Christmas? Saying goodbye to Linny and Elba.  Evident by Lyd, Lyd's face....

We wrapped up Girl's Club Christmas with movie night at our house.  B got to stay up and watch the Nativity Story with us girls.

I threw in two pictures from tonight since it was Christmas Eve.  This tradition has carried over from SC, Birthday Party for Jesus.  B and Daddy made the cupcakes.  Chocolate: our sin, White:  Purity from Jesus, Red: the blood that took away our sin, and Green: B said it represents the grass that the sheep eat (?)

Here are the Patrick and Oliphant kids singing Jesus his Birthday song

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Day's 10 and 9

Christmas card: try #8

B rearranging the stocking, again

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12 Days of Patrick Christmas

In keeping with sharing our Christmas season with many of you that we won't be able to see, I'm posting a picture for the next 11 days and I'm going to make up for yesterday with two today....
Our Patrick/Wiersma crew in the depot about to board the Polar Express!

Notice anything different with this picture???
I walked past this particular nativity in the dining room this morning after I had dropped the kids at PDO and took a double take at our bull.  I laughed out loud when I saw him knowing my eldest had tinkered and bedazzled him to her liking. Her favorite part of Christmas is putting out the nativity.  This year while unpacking one of her favorite nativities that we set  up in our room, I noticed we were missing a wise man. As she went shuffling into our room with her hands full of the nativity animals she nonchalantly said, "It's okay Mom, we only need two wise men this year".  It's now Joey and I's coin phrase when we only want to half do something,  "We only need two wise men this year."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happenings lately

We recently went home for an extended trip to SC for Thanksgiving.  I was counting down the days and even had my CBS group pray for me as we took trip home because I just knew I'd be so homesick after we came back to Memphis that I'd start over at square one.  We had an awesome time.....

First we stayed at Papa Mark and Gram's house and had the Thomas Thanksgiving....

Aunt Anna always does so good with the kiddos

We always decorate Gingerbread houses to kick off the upcoming Christmas season.  All the kids enjoyed it with their cousins.

B loved eating her decorations the most.  But look at her pretty Gingerbread house.

The little cousins loved hiding under the table and squealing at each other:)

After a few days we went to Linny and Elba's house to spend the rest of our time.  This is Mama Irene with some of her Great-Grandkids.

Joey and his brother with the children.  What a sweet picture...

We made time for a Clemson basketball game.  B loves going to Clemson bball games and JP loved meeting the Tiger for the first time.

She always dances with the Rally Cats...

We went to Papa and Gram's one last time to see them and play in the beautiful weather

Leaf piles were a favorite of the day

The cousins watched a Christmas movie and ate warm cookies.  Such great memories they'll have together.

On our way back to Memphis we visited Mimi Sara and Papa Jim.  It was so nice to see them and get a chance to run around before our long trip home.

We had a wonderful visit but God heard my CBS group's prayer.  I was anxious to get home and start our new Christmas traditions in our new house and neighborhood.  It felt good to pull into OM and walk in our door. The Lord tells us to go forward without looking back because we can never be fully in a place with our heads looking backwards at what we just left.  It was a real comfort to my heart.

We came back and unpacked and put up the Christmas decorations.  I'll give you a little preview of some of our new traditions in Memphis and now, this year, with 3 little ones....

B listening to Christmas music working hard on her Jesse Tree ornaments .This is the first year we are doing a Jesse Tree for advent and it's awesome.  She loved making her ornaments and learning about Jesus' family tree leading to his birth!  It's been fun for all of us

Baby Josiah busy with the OM house church women baking cookies for girls club that night.

It's no secret I've had a hard time "loving" house church but the Lord has blessed our HC with some really special women.  This is Jessica helping B roll dough 

More OM HC women busy at work

Girls club is chronicling Jesus' birth story for Christmas but we always have a fun craft!

Christ Communities Christmas party

These two wallflowers didn't do much but eat at the party

Breakfast with Santa at the Botanical Gardens.  They had a petting zoo, crafts and Carol-oke

JP singing a song he doesn't know during Carol-oke!

These sweet things have enjoyed the holidays

B making some ornaments for family
We had a first annual Wiersma-Patrick Mountain get-away to ride the Polar Express. Those pictures coming soon. 

We also baked pumpkin bread and roasted pecans and delivered them to our neighbors.  It was an awesome way to meet some of my neighbors I haven't meet.  Sadly, many of them were skeptical when they opened the door but as soon as B flashed her smile and explained that we had a present for them from "Joey and Tia and the kids, and from Bethany that loves animals..." they opened those doors up gladly and welcomed us in!  It made me wonder why I had never thought to do this before. 

That's the thing I love about Memphis and OM, it's made our family intentional. How can you go back to complacency when you've seen the blessings of intentional?

Be intentional this season.  Reach out to someone close by that you don't know well.  Christmas is the perfect time to walk to a neighbor's house and give them a baked good or Christmas card. I'm sure, like me, you'll wonder why you hadn't done it sooner.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A year ago today....

Oh sweet guy, we were so excited this time last year.  Thanksgiving had just passed and we had been blessed with the news of our court date!  I remember going around the Thanksgiving circle at dinner time and being amazed that our journey was finally here.  All the prayers and tears and imagining your little face, all that was finally subsiding and the end was in sight.  Daddy and I left your sisters (which was really hard since Lyd, Lyd was not even a year yet) and boarded a plane to headed for Addis Ababa.  We had awful travel and got delayed in Atlanta and in Germany.  It made our trip there last more than 24 hrs.  By the time we finally got to Ethiopia we had missed a nights sleep and still were 7 hrs off due to the time zone.  We were given the option to go straight to Shalom Orphanage and meet you or to rest and go for the afternoon session.  Of course we went to see you!  Your little sleepy face was not in the mood to meet us.  You were not interested in playing or smiling and I thought, "Ought Oh, this might be harder than I imagined".  You allowed us to finally play with you and hold you only if you good friend was near by.  Our court trip to Ethiopia had some unexpected glitches and caused us to only wait longer until you came home. But I know now that God was only giving you and us the little extra time needed to make our adjustment easier.  You couldn't have done better getting use to our family.
JP, I'm so glad you came into our lives.  The path that led us to you was unusual and different than most other little boys but no less special.  Your sensitive and charming way just compliments your sisters perfectly.  You have the most mischievous smile and your charisma is contagious.  We love you and couldn't imagine our family without you.  Here's a few pictures from last years court trip

 Mommy had just gotten off the plane in time to meet you!
 Mitin, your special friend that never left your side.  I pray the Lord keeps you two in touch over the years.  Mommy will do all she can to make sure you have this connection.
 So  happy to finally meet the staff in Ethiopia that made your adoption possible
 Addis Ababa from our guest house window
 Our last visit with you before having to come home.  Look at that cute, little handsome face. 

Monday, November 07, 2011

6 months already?

6 months ago I stepped off a plane with a little boy who barely knew me and whom I barely knew.  We had spent the last 4 days together after only meeting briefly 5 months before.  And during the brief meeting my JP was not happy about talking with me or his Daddy or sitting with us.  We were forced to bribe him with dum-dums to get him to sit on our lap or not cry when we touched him.  Joey and I came home and wondered how long it would take this child, who we had prayed for nearly 3 years, to adjust to coming into our family.  We had anticipated meeting this child of ours for years and dreamed of how our life would look with a little boy but then we worried that somehow he might be frightened and terrified to board a plane and come across the ocean only to be forever with these white strangers.  That small, sweet, scared little boy did board a plane with me and his Grandfather.  He endured a long journey without a whimper or typical two-year old episode.  He was strangely still and quiet for a tike his age.  Now knowing him as a mother does, that behavior came from a scared and insecure place within his confused heart. 
Today he has been home for 6 months.  He is a happy, sweet, sensitive, and very smart little boy.  His English is as good as or better than his peers.  He is learning his colors and numbers quickly. He loves "choo-choo's" and cars and screeches every time he sees a fire truck with it's sirens on!  His favorite food is french fries and he can spot a Chic-Fil-A from a mile down the street. JP goes to school two days a week and bible study once a week.  His best friend is his little sister who loves to run up and down the hall with and who he likes to push in her baby doll stroller.  He has fit in perfectly to our family. That's not saying it hasn't been a hard and we are still getting to know each.  Our love for him has grown and I'm sure if he could say it he'd tell you the same thing. 

I did a small "interview" with JP tonight.  I was going to post it but it took way too long to upload....

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Memphis in full show

This isn't "my" tree but these are some downtown trees:)

Today as the kids and I were riding to bible study I was enjoying the beautiful show that Memphis is in the midst of.  To be honest, until last week, I was disturbed that I had somehow moved from the lush, green and beautiful land of Upstate South Carolina to what was seemingly a pretty pitiful fall display.  There were no turning of leaves to brilliant bright reds, oranges and yellows. Instead the trees remained green and some just went to straight brown or had fallen to the ground.  It was yet another small grievance on my behalf.  But last week I woke up and walked out our front door to a beautiful, confident, bright yellow maple in a lot across the street that is home to an abandoned house.  I rode around last week and found that Memphis was going to prove she was just a pretty as my Carolina.  It really was a sweet comfort to my sometimes homesick soul.  I was marveling at what is sure to be a short-lived miracle this morning and worshiping God in song and the Lord spoke to my heart.  He used that tree across the street to give me a pretty useful analogy.  It's funny that the Lord can bring beauty out of despair.  Most people in Memphis would ride around Orange Mound and see blight, crime, and poverty. In fact, over the last two weeks I've encountered my first taste of not-so-understanding Memphians.  People here are really concerned about where people live.  Normally I try to give a general answer but they're not happy with that.  Memphians want to know your cross street.  Stranges thing.  So a couple of times I was talking with someone and they kept pressing about where I moved to in Memphis and I'm trying to avoid because I've already picked up that they're not going to be very understanding of our choice.  So push comes to shove and out comes Orange Mound and I see anxiety and discomfort written all over their faces.  And I wish I could somehow bring words to encourage them to give it a chance.  To not miss the blessing I'm receiving.  After living here for only a few short months and beginning to know it more intimately I've found that it's an extraordinary place.  My neighbors are special and wonderful people who were created by our Masterful Maker for a purpose in the history of time.  There is beauty in ashes and strength in weakness.  The tree also showed me that, yes, Jesus does choose to use us despite our sin.  That His Majesty shines even through the filth of our nature and our constant waywardness.  When I look across the street and I'm tempted to see only a boarded up home and empty lots and find reason to complain about where I'm at, I hope my heart remembers the splendor of a simple maple tree in a Memphis November.  That the Lord is at work in the most unusual places and that he normally uses the low and little and humble places on Earth to reveal His Glory.
I'll leave you with a picture of the three little maples in my life....