Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Healthy snack: frozen grapes

Grapes getting old before you can eat them all? Got the munchies but trying to eat healthier? FREEZE your grapes! Really, it's delicious! I pop them all off the stems into a tupperware and just freeze them. My 2 year old was quite shocked when she asked for a grape and it was "crunchy and cold" - she refused to eat it! ;-P But I think they're delicious! (One snack I definitely won't be having in Uganda, so I'll enjoy it for now!)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ugandan ministry to children

There's a young lady that I may have blogged about previously, but I wanted to remind you of her blog. She is in Uganda and has adopted and fostered countless children. She wrote recently about a a 23 year old with "disabilities" (looks like cerebral palsy perhaps) who was never loved, never held, never cherished, and passed away shortly after this missionary met her. This could have been my Gracie, but for the love and grace of God to entrust her to us. This missionary wrote a post that is so well written, I'd like to share a quote with you:

"In an effort to be real, I want to tell you. Adoption is wonderful and beautiful and the greatest blessing I have ever experienced. Adoption is also HARD and painful. Adoption of older children is a beautiful picture of redemption. It is the GOSPEL in my living room. And some times, it just stinks.

As a parent, it stinks to not know when your daughter took her first steps or what her first word was or what she looked like in Kindergarten. It stinks not to know where she slept and whose shoulder she cried on and what the scar on her eyebrow is from. It stinks to know that for ten years of her precious life you were NOT the shoulder she cried on or the Mommy she hugged.

As a child, it stinks to remember your biological parents’ death, not matter how much you love your new Mom. It stinks to have your mom be a different color than you because, inevitably, people are going to ask why. It stinks that your Mom wasn’t there for all the times you had no dinner and all the times you were sick and all the times you needed help with your homework. It stinks when you have to make up your birthday. It skinks when you can’t understand the concept of being a family forever because your first family wasn’t forever.

And every single day, it is worth it. Because ADOPTION IS GOD’S HEART. He sets the lonely in families. Adoption is the reason that I can come before God’s throne and beg Him for mercy, because He predestined me to be adopted as His child through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

My family, adopting these children, it is not optional. It is not my good deed for the day, it is not what I am doing to “help these poor kids out.” I adopt because God commands me to care for the orphans and the widows in their distress. I adopt because to whom much has been given, much will be demanded. I adopt because whoever finds his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for HIS sake will find it."

Amazina Ministries

Friday, October 15, 2010

Glimpse into Gulu

Here's a neat article that paints a verbal picture of Gulu, Uganda: "On My Way to Work"

Reminders of God's Grace

Our first week back at home after 2.5 weeks on the road has been filled with adventures! Reminding us that we are who we are! Rattins, prone to sin, and prone to adventures!

BOTH cars broke down on the same day, just miles after returning from over 3000 miles on the road - Praise God that #1 - the cars broke down AFTER our safe return and #2 - Gracie now rides the bus to school!

Our building's fire alarm apparently went off multiple times in our absence. It went off at 9:30pm on one of our first nights back. We woke the kids up and went outside because the hallway near us seemed a little smoky. It was a false alarm. The kids were too sleepy and cold to be impressed with the fire truck and firemen.

Josh went to his elder's meeting last night and the building fire alarm went off again just as Ana fell out of bed and Gracie was crying for unknown reasons (maybe not wanting the knee immobilizer on her leg while she slept? I would cry too probably!). I decided to ignore the fire alarm, keeping a nose and eye on the hallway for any signs of actual danger (we live on the ground floor with 5 points of rapid escape so I wasn't too worried). Noah also decided that he was famished at that time, so I started nursing him and heard dripping in the bathroom. I found a bathroom full of water dripping from our ceiling. Noah kept nursing as I scurried around placing towels at strategic points. I found our upstairs neighbors to let them know that their bathroom was leaking into ours. I came back in to find the ceiling dripping into our kitchen. I thought it was an old defunct sprinkler system. I had noticed that it dripped the other night when the fire alarm went off. I placed more towels and settled down to finish paying our bills and hopefully get to bed!

I "happened" to be doing laundry today in the common laundry room when I saw a stranger wandering around the building. I asked if I could help him find a certain apartment and he informed me that he was trying to fix our fire alarm system. After talking for a while, I invited him to look at our unit if it would help him figure out what is in each unit (every building is different in our complex). He took one look at our "sprinkler" and informed us that we don't have a sprinkler, but instead it's a heat sensor that he been short circuiting every time our upstairs neighbor's water leaks into our ceiling, causing the fire alarm to go off and the fire station to be called!! HA! God is good to orchestrate it so that I FINALLY got around to doing my mounds of laundry just as this gentleman was in the building to fix the system. It would have taken a long time for him to go to every unit and figure out that it was OURS (well, our neighbor's) that was causing the problems! Praise God! Now we just need to get the water leaking problem fixed!

Ana is a great helper. She was thrilled to bake some whole wheat oatmeal craisin/raisinette cookies with me today! Yes, she dresses herself - I love her sense of style!

Gracie arrives home from school in this state every day - adorable! I get her off the bus on the wheelchair lift and all the way into the house, fast asleep, and she stays asleep for 15-20 minutes longer too! This is the best that we can do with her head/neck - tying a neck pillow around her to support her a little.

Noah graduated to being old enough and interested enough to play on a play mat! Ana is excited by his new "playground" and he enjoys sisterly attention and toys dangling in his face!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pastor Appreciation Month

October is Pastor Appreciation Month - don't forget to show your appreciation to your pastors, elders, and lay leaders this month! They pour themselves out for the church for the Glory of God, but some recognition from the church body will only serve to encourage them on in their work!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Long Road Home...

(Isn't Gracie ADORABLE with a missing top tooth?!)

Josh sent me to a Biblical Counseling conference, keeping ALL the kids for me while I attended! What a husband! He camped out at his grandma’s in Illinois and great-grandma got to spend some quality time with Noah – what a blessing for all of us! I drove each day an hour and a half to the conference and we jumped through some hoops to make sure that Noah had enough milk.

(Great-grandma with 6 week old Noah)

The rest of the week we were able to meet with two churches and several individuals about our missionary endeavors and support-raising. The girls loved spending time with family, playing outside in a YARD, and taking family walks. By the weekend, we got busy preparing for our cousin’s wedding which was a delightful event. Ana literally danced the night away, fascinated by the wooden dance floor on the grass in the backyard under an elegant tent. She did not stop running/dancing/hopping around the dance floor for two hours straight and only then because the rest of us needed to go home to bed!

(Ana is on the left dancing with her little adorable cousin, Claire)

(Gracie also LOVED dancing, lasting a few songs herself, punctuating the music with her thrilled yells and screams and giggles!)

Sunday brought the opportunity to meet with two churches – always a great encouragement!

We then got on the road immediately after evening church (but not really leaving till 10pm our time). Josh drove through the night heroically but made the unfortunate mistake of following the GPS and we ended up in Canada without our passports! We passed a “fun” hour being detained at the border as Canada didn’t allow us in and the USA had to go through formalities to let us back in without proof of citizenship for the children (I haven’t even gotten Noah’s birth certificate yet!). We had to get EVERYONE out of the car (3 adults, 3 sleeping kids) and wait and then once cleared, we had to backtrack many hours to resume our journey.

Determined to see Niagara Falls, we still stopped by for a brief half hour in the rain, albeit at 2:30pm rather than 8:00am as previously scheduled! Always an adventure traveling with the Rattins despite best intentions, preparations, and planning!

(The tired, wet Rattin family at Niagara Falls – not pictured is my sister in law who made the road trip with us.)

(Now 7 weeks old, Noah is more adorable every day!)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The journey continues

It was a great privilege to have a family reunion in Pennsylvania over the weekend! We were able to take a break from support raising to spend a few cherished days with my family. The kids had a blast, the weather was beautiful, we used our museum passport pass at yet another museum (best $55 ever spent!!). Here are the dads (including my dad) with the grandkids! Beautiful bunch of kids, no? :)

A special surprise blessing happened as we realized that our future ACTION colleagues in Uganda were on the road from Oregon to Pennsylvania. Our paths crossed at a rest stop in Ohio and we got a chance to meet each others' families! What a blessing and an encouragement as both families raise support to meet up with each other on the field in Uganda! If you'd like to read more about this amazing family, go to their website at www.actioninternational.org/rieger.

Now we're in IL visiting Josh's extended family - another great blessing as Josh's grandparents get to spend time with all three of our kids! Josh has sent me to a Biblical Counseling conference within commuting distance from his grandparents for two days so I'm experiencing life without my baby for the first time. So far we've all survived!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hailing from Pittsburgh area

Our journey continues with time for learning and exploration for the kids scheduled in. Gracie is getting her therapies in this week through science and children's museums! What a fun way to get in her weight-bearing, her sitting, her right hand activities, her fine coordination of left hand, etc. And of course, Ana enjoys the museums just as much!

Noah is a good sport with all these adventures - such a calm consolable baby (and a GOOD eater!). He's been a joy and continues to be a little doll!

Ana can't quite figure out how to stay in bed while sleeping at night - as long as she sleeps, I guess any position is okay! (yes, she's fast asleep!)

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