First picture on the old couch....getting ready to go see Santa, our annual Monday before Thanksgiving tradition, jet lag can't stop us!!!! (if you're wondering what is in Crickett's mouth, it's her toothbrush, she LOVES it!)
We are HOME! YAY! Oh the Lord's mercy and grace were so abundant our entire journey!!!! We are so thankful to Him for bringing us to China and back, all 13 of us!
The 14 hour flight was really okay! I think the more we make that trip, the shorter the flight gets! Crickett and Keith and all the kiddos did great! The biggest issue was a few wet britches, about 15 awful diapers from Crickett (bless her heart and the people waiting on the bathroom!), but that was it! Really it was nothing to complain about; things could have been MUCH worse and we are so thankful for how smooth our flight was. Well, actually the flight was not literally smooth, it was probably some of the worse turbulence we've experienced for long lengths of time--some of the older kiddos were startled. But Crickett slept GREAT with all the bumping!
We had an 8 hour layover in Detroit and jet lag hit pretty hard. All 10 kids slept in the chairs at our gate. It was a poor sight, bless them! We had some crabby kids but for the most part, the crabby times were short-lived. I'm not gonna sugar coat that layover though--it was tough stuff but compared to other times, it was okay as well! I just kept thinking how grateful I was that everyone was WITH US and WELL, other than some lingering China tummy issues.
Our flight to Birmingham was just a short 1.5 hour hop, and we were at the airport before we knew it! They are doing construction at our airport so we actually got to come down some stairs off the plane outside and walk to some other stairs to our gate. The kids thought it was very cool! We could see our friends and family waiting at the gate window waving to us as we walked down the tarmac. What a sweet sight! When we got inside, we were greeted by Rob's sister Jill and Anna Grace, Nanny and Papa, and the Fargarsons and the Clarks (the two families that teamed up to get our big family home with 14 pieces of luggage!)
Hugs and more hugs, and Keith and Crickett just rolled with the punches and were sweet with everyone as they sat in their strollers and just enjoyed the "party"!
The Fargies and Clarks drove our Suburban to the airport-- so with their two vans, Bobby's truck, and our car, we had enough seats and luggage space! What sweet friends! We have been SO blessed by friends helping us! (Also I found out that after 3 weeks in our garage, our Burb's battery was dead as a doornail so the Fargarsons got their home group to pitch in and buy us a new one and come over and install it before we got home! SWEET BODY OF CHRIST to our family...we are so overwhelmed!)
Did I mention how we got to the airport when we left on Oct. 31? Two sweet families from church helped us out with their truck and 15 passenger van! Thank you Andrew and Dan Goforth!!!! (Poor Dan had to turn us around to get Kevin's stroller we forgot at home--then we didn't have a way in the house because I had given all our house keys to our friends...so Rob had to 'break in'! Thank you for your patience Dan!)
Back to our homecoming, when we walked in the house, it smelled SO good! Thank you Tricia for that sweet clean home smell! Tricia, I am sorry that while we were gone, a visitor moved in and ran across your foot. We are praying God will kill that little rodent, but so far the traps you put down have not caught a thing. Maybe he got scared and is gone forever? Anyway, thank you Lonnie and Marshall for moving our fridge and oven to make sure he wasn't back there. Again, our friends have gone ABOVE AND BEYOND the call of duty, folks! Dealing with a dead battery, a mouse, and remember Nikki who overnighted Kevin's meds to the family who brought them to China for us? Yall, I'm beginning to wonder why people are our friends! We are not the lowest maintenance people apparently! But oh we are SO blessed by our friends and family. Honestly, you are all gifts from God.
The Clarks and Fargarsons had our kitchen STOCKED with groceries and our walls adorned with many sweet welcome home signs and Bible verses. We visited awhile and then they left about 11 p.m. and we began unpacking and Granmart sorted all our dirty laundry! We went down about 1 a.m. and the last 4 to wake up the next day were Rob, Kevin, Keith, & Crickett--at 1:30 in the afternoon! OH DEAR!!!!!! Talk about MIXED UP!
The Caudles came over Sun. afternoon to help the Williams family bring us a van to test drive! It might be our new-to-us ride if the Lord so directs! It would replace the infamous lemon van that we were able to sell last spring. We are praying for direction about that. The Williams family also brought us yummy noodles and strawberry shortcake! Oh how yummy the home cooked meal was to our weary bodies! Thank you sweet church families!
We laid down about 9 p.m. and at about 3 a.m. this morning, people started stirring and waking up. Oh please no! But once you're awake with jet lag, you just can't make yourself sleep, no matter what! Especially if you're a 2 or 4 year old! I finally got out Shalita's chocolate chip cookies she made us and put in a movie for the kids about 5 a.m. Nobody went back to sleep! So we ate breakfast about 7:00, Mom finished all our laundry (I LOVE YOU MOM...WE ARE NEVER LETTING YOU GO HOME!), we slowly got dressed, ate some of Shalita's pizza at about 11:00 a.m., and then left for the mall to see Santa. I mean, what else are we gonna do, right?
Before we left, I dug out all our past Santa pictures to show Crickett and Keith what would take place. Keith was PUMPED! He knew all about Santa from New Day. Crickett was NOT pumped. I decided to get down our 4 foot singing and dancing Santa from the attic to see what she would do. NOT liking him one bit! She kept shaking her head ferociously and saying "BU HO HO, BU HO HO!" (Bu means "no" in Chinese) It was SO funny! She liked him dancing, but only from a distance. So we went off to the mall wondering what might be in store with this sure to be memorable Santa picture.
It was so fun to see all the Christmas decorations in Brookwood mall! We waited on Rob to meet us there, and then we saw Santa, live and in person. Keith went right to him and began telling him all sorts of things in Chinese. Santa understood of course! We also gave Santa a heads up that we had just come home from China 2 days prior! Katie Lyn held Crickett during the picture so we had no tears at all! But it was funny to see Crickett giving Santa the stare down.
After the picture, we headed home for some much needed naps and that's when zombie zone hit hard. At 5:00 p.m., I knew I had to force everyone to wake up and it was not a happy place. But thanks to Shalita's cheese balls, everything got better! The Cospers and the Cooks from church brought us yummy Spaghetti and salad and we enjoyed full bellies around our table. We ate our next door neighbor's yummy cake for dessert. (thank you Becky!) We thank God for these precious friends who are literally meeting our needs--and then over and above that too! Yall just have no idea how wonderful it is not to worry about meals right now. I can just bathe kids and be a zombie and put away laundry and play with kiddos and not have to stop to think about what's for dinner! We are so grateful for this love of Christ being poured out on us right now.
It's 9:45 and the last of the 20 little feet just hit the hay...praying for solid rest tonight!
And in case you're wondering why I've documented detail by detail of our first 48 hours home...I just never want to forget this time. It's so hard at times, but we can so feel God's presence so close right now too. We depend on Him every moment, and He provides so amazingly and I just never want to forget the many hands and feet He is using to nourish our souls and tummies! And I want to never forget all of YOU who have given so sacrificially to help bring Keith and Crickett home sweet home...your prayers have been felt and answered, praise the Lord with us!
"Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me" Psalm 54:4