Saturday, May 28, 2011

Here and Then Gone Again

Do have heroes in your life? I do. And most of them are people that are willing to do amazing things because they obey the call of an amazing God. To me, when you recognize that all that you have and are is for God and his kingdom building purposes, you're on your way to herodom in my book.

This past Tuesday, my cousin Michele, her husband, and their three kids arrived in the USA after a three day flight from Africa. They serve in Mozambique and are here in the States for a short furlough. It's true: her family is on my list of heroes. 
Michele's sister and my cousin, Kristi, and her boys spent some time at our home while Michele and her family attended meetings and appointments with their sending agency, SIM.  Annalyse spent some time getting to know Judah a little better. I think she's already showing signs of motherly-bossiness. 
Four boys under the age of five enjoyed the sandbox, trucks, and blocks, while Kristi and I tag-teamed to handle potty breaks, petty arguments, and simple owies. I take that back: Kristi's boys played nicely while I handled my boys with discipline issues and little boo-boos.
After SIM meetings, Michele and her family, Kristi and her family, my Uncle and Aunt, and Grady and I with our kids decided to get dinner together. I was open to everyone coming to our house to eat, but something about nine kids under the age of seven in my house didn't sound fun to anyone. I can't imagine why.

Thank goodness for cheap and loud places to eat, like Ci-Ci's Pizza. My cousin and her family were excited to have greasy pizza again, and everyone else was excited to let the kids run and play while we ate and caught up. I really thought I took several pictures while we were eating dinner, but now that I've gone back and looked through my pictures, I apparently only took this one! I guess my focus was on a couple other things - namely my whining four year old and trying to talk amidst the chaos.
This cute little thing found some sour candies and was proud of her green tongue. Tongue aside, look at those darling blonde curls!
My Uncle, their Grandpa, had a pocket loaded with quarters and the kids enjoyed shoving them in the gum ball machine. Wonderful and generous gesture by my Uncle, but now my boys are going to want a gum ball everytime they see a machine. Until this point, I've managed to avoid introducing my boys to gum balls. Oh well. Watching my Uncle spoil his grandkids reminded me that my Dad would have done the same thing.
After a pizza dinner, we decided to visit a park by the lake to let the kids get their feet wet, throw some stones, and maybe feed the ducks.
Um, it didn't take long before we quickly realized that asking seven kids to only get their feet wet wasn't going to happen. In the blink of an eye, Karis dropped her shorts...
... Kallen followed suite...
... and, well, slowly but surely everyone else did too.
It was okay though, because it was hot and we were enjoying time with family.

Doh! Then we remembered we didn't have towels or a change of clothes. It was okay though, because we were making memories and too busy laughing at our crazy kids to care that much.
Annalyse was happy to watch the splashing fun and I'm glad she isn't walking yet because that meant I could stay dry rather than chase her along the shore. (I cannot get enough of this darling smile!)
Yikes! Carrying an extra five pounds around on your rear end can, um, drag you down.
Yes, literally, drag you down! After all of us adults stopped rolling with laughter at sweet Noah, he innocently asked if he could take his pull up off because "it's too heavy!" Sure, why not... we have a majority of the kids swimming in underwear, why not in your true birthday suit?
The innocent wading to your ankles only - now a full-fledged swim. My boys will never be content to wade again - look what my extended family has started!
At one point, my cousins and I looked at each other almost bewildered as if to say, "Seriously, how did this mess happen?! How did we suddenly acquire nine little people?!"
Cuteness. Darlingness. Sweetheartness.
On Thursday we said goodbye to my family as they journeyed home toward Michigan for their stay in the States. Luckily this little guy lives just a couple of hours away and we'll likely see him again before he gets too big.
Sadly, though, Michele will be in Michigan for several months and then back in Africa for several years. Hopefully I'll get a chance to visit before she leaves. And sweet Kristi is still here in the Carolinas as well, which is way too far from her best friend and sister when the clock is ticking down until Michele leaves for Africa.
These two brown-haired beauties are way more than just my cousins. They are my friends. My special friends. And, in many ways, they are my heroes, too.


  1. I am so glad you got to enjoy such a special time with your precious family! I LOVE the pics with all the kids in the water. What fun memories you made!!!

  2. Looks like SUCH a fantastic visit with your extended family, what a blessing! All those pics of the kids playing together are priceless! I totally know the feeling of looking around at all the kids/craziness & thinking, when/how did this happen?! But it is definitely a wonderful thing! Many blessings to your cousin Michele as they serve the Lord in missions!