Thursday, November 25, 2010

"A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart!"

Living in a country so far from everything that you have always known can have its ups and downs. While I absolutely LOVE Brazil and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the people that the Lord has blessed us with as friends, holidays can be hard.

The last few days I have been dealing with a really bad attitude concerning the holidays. I really did not “feel” like trying to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas this year. I had about a million excuses why I didn’t want to celebrate - “Why go through all of the trouble of making a meal if it isn’t going to be anything like the normal Thanksgiving meal.” Our little grocery store here in Rio Vermelho does not have turkey, ham, cranberry sauce, stuffing, pumpkin pie, or really anything that I would normally make for Thanksgiving. None of our friends were going to be celebrating Thanksgiving, as it is an American Holiday. It just seemed like it would be easier if we just pretended like November 25 was just like any other day.

Thankfully the Lord convicted me of my bad attitude and reminded me just how blessed I am and have been this past year. This year I have seen the Lord perform miracles to be sure. He blessed us with our three newest additions, He brought us through those first few hard months when I was living in the U.S. with all six kids without Nate, He miraculously provided for the adoption as well as our plane tickets home, and HE has continued to care for and grow the church in the midst of all of this going on. On top of all of these blessings the Lord reminded me of my greatest, and your greatest blessing –
WE HAVE THE HOPE OF HEAVEN! At one time I was lost but now I am found, and I am going to live with HIM, the King of kings forever! Wow.

After the Lord convicted me and I repented we had a great day. Nate drove to the next town and he was able to find a HAM (well, sort of ☺), the makings for a crustless apple pie, sweet potato casserole, broccoli, garlic potatoes, and some yummy cheese bread. I spent the entire day in the kitchen preparing but it was so worth it. We invited a couple from church over at the last minute and we all had a great time. The kids just could not believe that we would totally let them pig out on all the sweet stuff!

About half way through the day it hit me that this was our first Thanksgiving as a big family. I missed the first 6 Thanksgivings of Josiah’s life, but I am so excited to be able to share in his Thanksgivings in the years to come.

I am now looking forward to Christmas. I am choosing not to dwell on the negatives. If we do not have a tree that is fine. If we are not able to buy the kids the gifts that we would like to give them they will be O.K.. We are going to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas. We are going to remember our God who gave his only Son to die, so that I a sinner would have the hope of heaven, and for this I am thankful! ☺

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Six Year of Bliss and Craziness Part 2

Six Years of Bliss and Craziness Part 2 -
On the Friday after the conference was over we packed up the van and got ready to head home. Right as we were buckling the last kid into the last car seat it started to rain. But the time we were about to get on the interstate we knew that there was no way we could go any further. It was raining so hard we couldn’t see out the window and the wind was pushing our van so hard we were scared it would get pushed right off the road.

We decided to head back to the bible college, but because of the rain we missed the sign to turn. Nate tried to turn around, but we just slid in the mud onto the side of the road and got stuck.

So there we were, stuck on the side of the road in pouring rain with our 6 kids in a van up on two wheels with the other two wheels stuck in the mud. We were scared the van might roll if the rain did not stop soon. Our phone was not working (again!) so Nate took off his shoes and ran about a mile in the pouring rain and mud, to the bible college to go get help.

I was left to try and keep 6 little bodies from wiggling around. I really thought that if they moved at all we could roll the van. The kids and I all took turns praying and I must say it was one of the best prayer times I have ever had with my kids. After about twenty minutes of praying together our prayer meeting turned into a tooting contest and the kids were having the time of their life! They had no idea how bad the situation was.

My friend Talisa drove by and tried to come to our rescue, but much to our despair she also slid to the side of the road and got stuck.

After awhile Nate and a friend came with a tractor. After lots of prayer, and few more times almost rolling the van we were free!

We spent another night at the bible college and on Saturday morning we were on the road again.

Everything went as planned for the first few hours and then the van broke. We found a mechanic, and after 3 hours of waiting we were back on the road again. We thought that the van was running fine, but out of nowhere the gaslight turned on. We pulled into an abandoned gas station and asked an old man how far until the next gas station. The guy told us about 26km.. He said that he had some gas and Nate went with him to help him get it. As soon as Nate left I locked all the doors and told the kids to be quiet. Right as I locked the last door I look up and stared straight into the eyes of one of the sketchiest dudes I have ever seen. I really don’t know what it was about him, but the way he was looking at us just made my skin crawl. The guy kept staring and called for another guy from inside the building to come out. After the second guy came out he called for a third. I didn’t know what to do but pray that my husband would come back quickly and that the Lord would keep us safe.

After a few minutes Nate did come back and I knew that something was wrong. He looked totally shaken up and was only speaking to me in Portuguese. The only time he ever speaks to me in Portuguese is when he doesn’t want people to know that we are American. The old guy poured some gas into our van (while smoking, yikes!) and we took off!
As we were driving away I asked Nate what happened. He said that after he went behind the gas station the old man took him to a room to get the gas and when he walked into the room there were 15 guys all with their shirts off sharpening some big sticks with huge knives and machetes. Nate said that when he walked into the room they all looked up and stared at him like they were going to kill him, but for some reason they didn’t.

I was surprised to see my husband so shaken up. I mean yeah, it was scary, but we have had so many other crazier things happen! I have lost track of how many times drunk or stoned people have come to our house in the middle of the night. Some have brought guns, some knives, some angry with other people, some angry with us, but none of those felt quite so heavy. Anyway, we knew one thing – the Lord protected us!

Maybe those three guys that were staring at the kids and me saw six scary looking angles instead of six little kids and decided that jumping us would not be a good idea. We will never know how or why but the Lord hand His hand on our family and He kept us safe. ☺

The bad gas got us a few miles up the road and the van died again. Once again we prayed, and once again Nate had to leave me and the kids on the side of the road to run and find some help. He found a farmer up the road, and after lots of begging from Nate the farmer agreed to give Nate a ride to the gas station. Nate returned with the gas and we were on the road (again!). We found out that there was something wrong with the gas line because we were using over twice the amount of gas than we should have needed.

At some point in the day Nate and I realized that it was October 16th, our six year anniversary! We laughed a lot when we remembered. Never in a million years would I have thought that we would be spending our six-year anniversary on the side on the road somewhere in South America with our 6 little kids!

As I look back on the crazy trip I am thankful. I am thankful for the Lord’s protection, His provision, and His opportunities. We were able to share Jesus with three people that day- the mechanic, the farmer, and a gas station worker. Who knows what the Lord will do with those little seeds in the years to come. Plus, I had the opportunity to sit with my sweetie for 16 hours talking, laughing and looking back on all of our memories that we have had in the last 6 years of bliss and craziness!!

Six Years of Bliss and Craziness Part 1

Six Years of Bliss and Craziness Part 1 –
As promised I finally found the time to write about our adventurous travels going to and from the Pastor Conference in Campo Mauro, Brazil.
*I have to add a side note here to say: “Dad, if you are reading this remember that we are already home, safe and sound. However, just to be on the safe side you might want to make sure you take your blood pressure meds before reading any further.” ;)

Our trip started out well, we rented a van from a friend and we left with enough time to make it to Campo before dark. We estimated the travel time to be about 10 hours. Boy, were we ever wrong! We got lost for a few hours in Curitiba, which is about three and a half hours away, and by the time we finally arrived in Campo it was so dark we could not find the road that led to the bible college. At 3a.m., after 16 hours of driving we decided to call it quits and check into a hotel. It was so frustrating. We knew we were so close but we just could not find it. The only phone number that we had was for the bible college office and that was closed. So into the hotel we went, spending our entire gas money that we had set aside for the trip home.

The next morning we woke up and tried again. In the daylight everything went so much easier! We found the road, we found the bible college, and we were all rejoicing!!

The conference itself was in a word AWESOME! We were so incredibly blessed by the time in the Word, time in worship and time with friends. Personally I was so very blessed to be able to sit in every bible study! Going there with six little ones I doubted that I would even be able to sit in one, but there was a sweet girl there who took care of our kids and did a great job! It was also so awesome to feel the encouragement from the other pastors and their families.

When the Lord first told us to adopt our kids we were a little concerned about what our Brazilian friends would think. Would they think we were taking on too much, would they think that we were crazy, I mean it is pretty far from normal to have six kids in Brazil? That being said, we were SO blessed by their almost overwhelming support and encouragement!!

On the last day the Lord just blessed our socks off by providing the money for the trip home. It was truly a miracle and a reminder to me that I never know whom the Lord is going to use to provide for our needs. No one could have known that we literally had NO money to make it home, but He provided the EXACT amount that we needed in R$ (Brazilian money) to get home, plus some American money that we would later change to help with some other needs that we had!! What can I say? Our God is faithful!! He knows our needs, and He provides.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Simple Life.

When I was a little girl my good friend Beth and I would often tell people that we had been born in the wrong era. We were obsessed with the 1800’s and what we thought would be the “simple life.” Now that I am a little older and actually living a much simpler life than most of my American friends, I thought it would be fun to write about some of the differences between my life in the U.S. and my life in Brazil.

I realize that not all of Brazil is the same kind of living as where I live in Rio Vermelho. If you were to travel to the Amazon you would find that some people live with far less comforts than we are blessed to have, but if you were to visit Rio, or some of the other bigger cities you would find that there are parts of the city that are very modern and not so different from cities that you would find in the U.S.

In our town of Rio Vermelho life seems to move at a much slower pace. We have lived here only three and a half years but we feel like we know everyone. If we don’t know them by name or nickname (such as Water Guy, Bakery Guy, or Cat Lady) we recognize almost everyone. Most of the people I know do not have cars; we obviously do a lot of walking. Some people would think that this would be such a pain, but I think it is part of the reason that everyone knows everyone. When we walk we are always waving and saying hi to our neighbors and friends as we pass by.

Besides walking being a way of life there are other differences as well. One of the more obvious differences would be the lack of all of those modern machines that I so often used to take for granted. Here we do pretty much all of our housework by hand. When we wash clothes we wash them by hand and then hang them out to dry. When we wash our dishes we wash them by hand. When we make coffee we boil water and pour it through a funnel with a filter. When we cook we peel, chop and dice everything by hand – the only food processors in this house are attached to my wrists. ☺ A few other little differences that have made our life interesting in teaching our newest additions to adjust to their new home would be - we can not drink the water from the sink, we have no hot water in the house (our showers do plug in to get hot though), the houses have all tile instead of carpet, and the most fun one of all … we can’t flush toilet paper. Lets just say that my six year old had a bit of a hard time getting used to that last one. ;)

Some people might think that all of these differences are a bad thing, but I have found that I really do prefer the simple life. Of course I have had moments that I miss having some of those conveniences that we had in the U.S., but if I had those things I would be missing out on other things. I would miss laughing with Nate outside as we desperately try to stay caught up on laundry for eight people. I would miss playing detective with the kids to figure out who tried to flush the toilet paper, and I would miss the talks that I have with my oldest as I wash and he dries the dishes. The simple life can be difficult at times but it can also be simply sweet.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Update September 2010

Update September 2010
Dear Family and Friends,
As most of you know we have one GIANT praise report – We are HOME! Praise the Lord!! We would like to take just a few minutes to catch you up on some of what the Lord has been doing in our family, and in Calvary Chapel Mocamba this past month.

Calvary Chapel Mocamba-

In August the church family of Calvary Chapel Mocamba celebrated its two-year anniversary of meeting for Sunday services. It was such a blessing to be able to have our church family all together again- worshiping Jesus, learning from His Word, and spending time in sweet fellowship! It is such an awesome thing to be able to look back over the past two years and see all that the Lord has done. We have had the privilege to see people develop a hunger for the Word and mature in their relationships with Him. We are so blessed to have been given the opportunity to minister to the people of Rio Vermelho, and we are so excited to see what else the Lord has in store for these beautiful people.

The church service schedule remains similar to what it has been. We are going through the book of Genesis on Wednesdays, the book of Acts on Sundays, as well as staying busy with the other weekly activities that go on at the church such as Ladies Art class, Jujitsu, and English class. Surf School is taking a break because of the cold weather and also because of the fishing season.

Another praise report is that by the grace of God Nathan has been teaching the studies in Portuguese without a translator!

Our family has been very busy getting settled into our new house and getting our kids adjusted to life in Brazil. It has been so much fun introducing them to all of our friends here, and the kids are adjusting well. They love their new rooms, new friends, and of course all the new foods. They also are enjoying learning lots of new words in Portuguese. We have noticed they always remember the words for the things that they like. I believe that Josiah’s first word in Portuguese was “sorvette” (ice cream)!

Nathan has been very busy getting our family settled as well as taking care of the church. Now that we are not living in the church building, he is going there five days a week, in addition to the weekly services.

We are so happy to be home! The Lord has truly had His hand in every detail of the past eight months. He was faithful in taking care of His church while Nate was in the U.S., He was faithful in His provision for the adoption, He was faithful in His provision for our airfare home, and He has been faithful in giving us the strength needed in the past month of getting adjusted to our new family in our own home.
We thank you all so much for your prayers and support!! No words could ever say how much it has meant to our family knowing that all of our brothers and sisters in Christ are there for us, praying for us, and lifting us up to Jesus.

Keeping our eyes on Him, The Cates

Prayer Requests:
• Pray the people of Rio Vermelho come to know Jesus.
• Pray for Continued growth, maturity, and hunger for the Word in the body@C.C.M.
• Pray for provision to be able to attend the Brazil C.C. Pastors Conference.
• Pray for the safety of our family in our new house.
• Pray for wisdom and vision for Nate in leading the church.
• Pray that God would raise up servants to help in the work of the ministry.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our Trip Home

I know that is has been awhile since I have had the time (or the internet) to be able to get on here so we have LOTS to catch up on! The best and biggest news is that WE ARE HOME!!! That is right ladies and gents, our 4 weeks trip that turned into an 8 month, 2 day trip has come to an end. We are now finally back home in Brazil and we have 3 of the very best surprise souvenirs that a girl could ask for. ;) God is faithful!

We knew that our trip home would be an adventure. I mean lets face it, everything in our life is an adventure - we have 6 kids. But this trip far surpassed any ideas of what we thought that we would be getting into.

We arrived at the airport with what we thought would be enough time to check in and say goodbye to our friends and family. Nate was in charge of the check in and I was in charge of the kids. As Nate was checking in the guy who was helping him said that there was a problem with our three newest kids tickets. He said that because they were traveling to Brazil on a tourist visa they would need to have round trip tickets. This came as a shock to us for a few reasons.

1. The people at the Brazilian Embassy in Miami saw our one way tickets, gave us the visa, and told us that we had everything that we needed to get the kids their permanent visas once we were in Brazil.

2. We had traveled with Grace on a tourist visa with a one-way ticket and had no problems two years earlier.

Anyway, to make this part of the very long and stressful story shorter we had two choices. We either had to pay the $3,500 for tickets that we knew that we did not need and would not use, or loose all of our tickets and miss our plane. Obviously we had to get those tickets. It was a HUGE hit. But there was really nothing else we could do. We scrambled to find enough credit cards to divide the cost onto and we started to run! By the time that we finally got checked in we had 12 minutes until our plane took off.

Now, just so you are able to get an idea of what we looked like in the airport let me give you the down low on what we brought. We brought to the airport a grand total of 17 boxes, 2 large strollers, 4 car seats, 8 carry on bags, 6 children 6 years and under, and 3 adults. Praise the Lord that our all-knowing God put it on both of our pastor’s hearts to send Pastor Jim with us!! We would never have been able to make it if he had not been there.

But lets get back to the story. We had 12 minutes to get from the front desk all the way to the plane. That means going through security and everything. The guy who gave us our tickets suggested that we didn’t even try because he said that with twelve minutes we would move up about 5 people in a line of about 100 waiting to go through security. After security we still had to make it to the gate. It seemed impossible but we had to try. We yelled out one mass goodbye for all our family and friends. I guess it was not all that sentimental, but we didn’t have time for anything else, and we figured that we would be back in about 10 minutes.

As Nate and Jim gave all of our 11 passports to the security guard I leaned down and told the kids. “ Hey guys we are going to go on an adventure. We need everyone to obey, and we need everyone to do everything as fast as you possibly can!”

As soon as the security guard gave us back our passports the real fun began. Pastor Jim began to yell out or story and ask/beg people if we could pass them in line. After about 30 seconds we realized that only about half of the people in line spoke English, so while Pastor Jim was telling people in English I was yelling out the same thing in Portuguese. We were a sight to be seen for sure! I guess enough people felt bad for us though because everyone in the line let us pass and we made it through security with about 4 minutes to spare. We ran as fast as we could to the shuttle and after the shuttle we ran as fast as we could to the gate (of course it was the very last gate). Once we got to the gate the door of the plane was already shut, so we had to wait for the plane to back up and open the door. I’m sure it goes with out saying, but we got quite a few dirty looks from other passengers when we got on the plane late, and with 6 kids.

We had other problems once we got on the plane, the biggest being we paid for 8 seats and we were only given 5 seats, but at this point we were so happy that we actually made it on the plane we were not going to complain! All three adults had one kids in their lap, and Josiah had to sit in the row in font of us.

After landing in Panama, we again thought that we had sufficient time to board our next flight. The plan was we would get off our plane, load the kids into the waiting strollers, take everyone to the bathroom and then find our gate. Well, we got as far as the “getting on the plane” part of the plan with out a hitch. But instead of the strollers waiting on us we ended up waiting, waiting, and waiting on our strollers. They were lost!!

Now as you are reading try and remember that we have 6 kids who are now very tired, hungry, needing to be changed, a few smelling like puke and to top it all off they are “unleashed” as we have no stroller to keep them tied down. It was pretty crazy- backpacks were dumped all over the airport floor, shoes and jackets were being taken off as fast as we could put them back on and they were all wanting to go in 6 different directions, all while we were try to talk to people and figure out what happened to our missing strollers.

I guess we didn’t know how close we were to our next flight taking off because out of nowhere a Brazilian lady that we sat next to on the last plane came running up to us yelling that she heard them giving us the last call on the loud speaker.

On a side note I have to say this is one of the reasons that I LOVE Brazilians!! This sweet lady didn’t know us, she was just waiting for her plane, heard that we were going to miss our next flight and went running to look for us! She then helped us carry our kids as we went running (again!) to our next flight.

Those were another crazy few minutes! Everyone in the airport was staring at us as we were running as fast as we could haul all these little kids and all of our 8 carry on bags. Yikes!

We again made it. We again had to wait for the plane to open the door and let us in, and we again got more than a few dirty looks from the other passengers. ;) Oh well, what can you do?

The flight from Panama to Sao Paulo was about 8 hours but the kids did great! They slept for most of it, ate and played for the rest. We were so nervous about how they would do with out those car seats to hold them in, but they were awesome! I love those kids!

Once we arrived in Sao Paulo we thought that we would be able to get our beloved and very missed strollers and boxes, but we were wrong. We waited for a few hours but they never showed up. The kids had a few minutes of almost losing it sometime in there, but all in all they were real troopers. Especially if you consider the fact that it was then about 4a.m. their time and we had to make them walk through the airport and through customs. Crazy, crazy, crazy – but the kids did great.

The flight from Sao Paulo to Floripa went well and seemed very fast. Most of the kids slept for a majority of it. And when they woke up WE WERE HOME!!!!!

All of our luggage, stroller and car seats did not make it that day. Actually it took four days before we had it all.

The first few days with out our stuff were another adventure in itself. We had all been in the same clothes for four days, and I don’t think that anyone of us had not been peed, pooped, or puked on. A special few of us had the blessing of all three. ;) Plus it was just hard with out all of the stuff that we brought to make life easier, like high chairs, towels, toys and bed linins. To say that we were all excited to get our boxes home would be an understatement to be sure! Some more great news is we were able to get out of paying the $3,500 for the tickets that we would not be using. Praise the Lord!!

So all in all it was a long trip, but it is over now. I was thinking that our flight home was a lot like this race that we are running in life. It was long, it was exhausting, and there were moments that I thought that we were not going to make it. But when ran, we ran with purpose. We wanted to make it home! And in the end of the race it sure is great to be home!

“..let us lay aside every weight, and sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Cate Family Update

Hello from the Cate crew! We realize that we have been here in the states much longer than expected and many of you maybe wondering what is going on. We would like to take this time to update you on where we are right now in the adoption process and what our plans are in moving forward. We will try and tell you the short version of what has happened, and where we go from here. :)
I guess most of you know us, but for those of you who do not we will try and catch you up a bit. We are a missionary family living in Brazil. We were sent out by our home church, Calvary Chapel Brandon, three years ago. The Lord lead us to plant a church in Rio Vermelho, Brazil two years ago and we have been blessed to be able to be a part of what the Lord is doing in and through Calvary Chapel Mocamba. Besides the normal weekly church services, we are involved in other ministries for the local kids such as surf school, English class, jujitsu, discipleship, etc. Because two of our kids were born in Brazil, we were able to receive our permanent visas which has been a huge blessing.
After not visiting the U.S. for a little over two years, we planned a trip back in December of 2009. The plan was to stay for about 5 weeks to see family, friends, our home church family and also to attend the pastor's conference. Little did we know that two days before our scheduled return date, the Lord would take us on one of the most exciting, faith stretching adventures we have ever been on.
As some of you know, we had Benji (now Josiah Cate) in our home when he was around a year old. We had tried to help out his single mother, and at the time we even talked about adopting him. Being that it was not the Lord's timing nothing happened, and we ended up moving to Brazil a short time later. After almost four years of not knowing where Benji was or how he was doing, we received a call regarding Benji and his younger twin siblings.

The kids and their birth mother were not doing well, Social Services were getting involved, and the kids were going to be placed into the foster care system. The very day that we heard about the situation we brought the kids home. At the time, we didn't know who was going to be their forever family, but we knew that the Lord wanted us to help these kids. After a few days, lots of prayer, and some serious confirmation from the Lord, we knew that these kids were meant to be our kids forever. Nathan stayed for an extra week to work on some of the initial adoption paperwork and then returned to Brazil. Because we were not able to travel with the kids until we had a court order from the judge, Danielle and all 6 kids stayed in the states at our assistant pastor Jim's house. (Praise the Lord for the Randall's hospitality!!) The first few months with the kids were very hard, but the Lord was faithful. The kids had been through a lot in their little lives, and with that comes many, many behavioral, physical, and emotional problems. It is so awesome to look back and see how far the Lord has already brought them in the last five months!
As far as the adoption goes we are almost done-Praise the Lord! We have the most important parts already finished, but it has not been officially finalized as of yet. The kid's birth mother, as well as all of the potential birth father's rights have been terminated. Also we have been completely approved as the adopting family(which is a much bigger process than you would guess if you haven't been through it personally).
Another HUGE praise report is the Lord's provision for the adoption costs that we have had to pay up to this point. When our adoption agency gave us the estimated cost of the adoption, along with airfare, it added up to be a good bit more than our yearly income! The state is not involved in helping us with any financial aid. We knew that God would have to provide. We are so blessed to be able to say that most of the adoption costs have been paid! Praise the Lord!
As this adoption process is coming to an end, we would like to ask you to keep us in your prayers. The judge has given us a court order to enable us to take the kids home to Brazil, and finalize the adoption from there. Now all that needs to be done in order to get back to our ministry in Brazil is to get passports, visas, and 8 plane tickets home. We know that for this to happen it will have to be another miracle from the Lord, being that we have no other financial resources left.
We want to thank all of you who have been there for us these last few months through your prayers, encouragement, and support. We have been blessed beyond measure to be surrounded by our brothers and sisters in Christ during this time! You can find us on Facebook: search “Nathan Cate”, “Danielle Cate”, or “Calvary Chapel Mocamba” for the church in Brazil.
Or you can email us @
Danielle also has a blog @

- If you would like to help financially you can give through Calvary Chapel Brandon with a note attached specifying that it is for the Cate Family.

Calvary Chapel Brandon’s Address: 1331 Kingsway rd.
Phone: (813)681-5318 Brandon, FL, 33510

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Twins. :)

Have you ever had the Lord speak to you? Remind you of things? Like maybe reminding you of things that He had promised you, and you had just forgotten about? Well I have, and I am forever amazed that the God that I serve is so BIG, yet so personal that He would even bother to speak to little old me.
A few months ago I was having a really hard day with this whole adoption process. I was just feeling like this adoption was NEVER going to be done, and my kids were never going to be “my” kids. I was asking the Lord why this was so hard. I mean, were we pushing for something that was not supposed to be?
As I was praying about all of these things on my heart I started to think about my twins. I was thinking about how I had missed so much of their little lives and wishing that I could have been there for them. Anyway, as I thought about them, I started to think about where I had been, and what I had been doing when they were different ages. As I thought about their birth, and where I was the day they were born I stopped in my tracks.
The twins were born on Feb. 4th 2008. On Feb. 4th 2008 Nate and I were at a Pastors Conference in Brazil. At this conference there was an orphanage close by. Before we even arrived at the conference I had joked to Nate saying I wanted to go to the orphanage and maybe meet our next kid. He had just laughed. Anyways, once we arrived at the conference I asked a few people about the orphanage, but they all told me that the doors were closed, and we would not be able to visit. I was a little sad, not that I had really expected to adopt a kid at that time, but I knew that this was a desire in my heart.
I decided to once again give this desire to the Lord.
In my quiet time that day I prayed,
“Lord, You know that I would LOVE to have more kids someday. You also know that Nate and I both have it on our hearts to adopt, and I believe that this desire is from You. I ask that you will bring those kids to us in Your time.”
As I prayed this prayer I felt the Lord like I have only felt a few other times in my life. He said, “Start praying, your kids are already born.” I wrote this down, and I told Nate and my friend what the Lord told me that day. I did start to pray for the kids- whoever they were. I knew that the Lord would bring them in His time, but little did I know that the VERY same day that the Lord told me this, my precious little Lilliana and Jeremiah were born!
How cool is our God?! He knew before these crazy awesome kids were even born that they were going to be a part of our family. He put it on my heart to pray for them from the very day that they were born, and then He reminded me of His faithfulness, and His perfect plan just when I need that extra encouragement! ☺ He is just too cool!!

“ Lord your greatness is just insane! I will never be able to wrap my little head around it. I am so glad that you see our lives from start to finish. Thank you for you plan for my life. Please help me to never get in the way of your plan and always be open to be used by You. I love you!”

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

God is Great Not Late. ;)

One of the things that I LOVE about the Lord is His perfection. His decisions are always perfect, His answers are always perfect, and His timing is ALWAYS perfect. I often have a hard time with His timing. I try to tell Him that He is too fast, or too slow but I am always wrong.
I remember 41/2 years ago when we had Benji (Josiah) in our home I felt that the Lord told me that he was going to be our son. After his birthmother decided that she was not ready to give him up, I remember crying my eyes out talking to my mother-in-law on the phone.
“I don’t understand Mom! I really thought that the Lord told me that he was going to be my son! Why would He do this? Why would He tell me that if He was only going to let him be taken away?”
Her answer was (as always) very wise.
“Danielle, if this is the Lord, if this is going to happen, it will happen in His time.”
For the next four years I cried every year on Benji’s Birthday. I guess that I thought that I had just heard the Lord wrong. Little did I know that the Lord was going to bring our boy back into our lives. (If you want to know more about how that happened read “From 5 to 8”)
I was thinking the other day about my newest additions. I was asking the Lord why he would let them go through all of the experience that they have had to go thorough in their little lives. I don’t yet have an answer for this. My prayer is that He will use the things that they have gone through to bring glory to Himself.
Nathan and I will be raising these kids on the missions field. We will have lots of opportunities to minister to kids in the orphanage and on the streets. While Nate and I can love the kids in the orphanage, we will never be able to tell them that we understand how they feel, or that we have been there. My kids will be able to say that. They will be able to say, “ I have been there, and this is how the Lord used that situation and brought me through it.”
So maybe the Lord waited to bring our boy back into our lives because He wanted to be able to use him to minister to others someday, or maybe He waited because we would not have been able to get settled in Brazil with 4 kids, or maybe He waited because we would not have our precious twins if we had adopted Ben when he was a baby. I may never know why the Lord chose to wait, but I know that He knows and I trust Him. 

“Thank you Lord for your perfection. Thank you for seeing my life from start to finish and thank you for knowing what is best for me. Please use my life, and the lives of all of my kids to bring glory to You. I love you”

The Joys of Motherhood! ;)

Oh man what a day! I am starting to get the feeling that life with 6 kids is going to be just full of adventures! This morning started out pretty normal. We woke up by 6a.m., got breakfast for everyone, cleaned up a little.. changed 6 poopy diapers by 7:30a.m. ..then bathed and dressed 6 little stink pots.. same old, same old. E.Z. was not feeling well and because I was planning on some of my very best, very oldest friends coming to visit I decided to lay him down for an early nap. My oldest boy Josiah (or Ben age 5) and Hope (4) were running around the house playing while I took care of the younger 4kids needs. For some reason they kept trying to go into my room . I was not sure what they were trying to get in there, but I had to redirect them multiple times. They both know that they need to stay within ear shot/ eyesight when they play.. they just were having a hard time with the whole “obedience thing” this morning. Anyway, to make a long story a little shorter, soon after Josiah came away from my room we figured out that the door was locked- and Ezekiel was asleep inside the room! After questioning the kids Josiah admitted that he was the one who locked the baby in the room. After sending him to his room (until I could talk to him more in depth about the importance of NOT messing around with locks – again!) the search for the missing key began. We spent the next two hours looking EVERYWHERE for the key. Couches were moved, all drawers were opened, and all purses were dumped out. The key was nowhere to be found. The more time passed the more stressed I got . I knew that Ezekiel was not able to get out of his crib, but because he was a little sick I was afraid that he would soon start to cry. I knew that if he was crying in there and I could not get to him I was going to lose it.
My dear old friends came in the middle of the chaos and tried to help us think of ways to get to the baby. After we had worn out all other options my mother-in-law looked up numbers for a locksmith. In sheer desperation, and as a last attempt to get out of paying a $150 locksmith fee I resorted to bribes for the kid.
“O.K. guys, if you find the key I will give you $3!!” Josiah looked up. Finally I had his attention!
“Ummm…. Do you mean the key to your room?” Josiah asked. “Yeah.” I answered. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out the key!
“Josiah, have you had this in your pocket the whole time?!” I asked in disbelief.
“Umm… do I get the $3?” Josiah asked. Ahhh!! I didn’t know what to do.. kiss him or ground him!
All ended well . The baby was fine, we had a great visit with my friends, and Josiah learned never to play with locks. I guess I should just be happy that he thought that a $3 reward was enough to come forward with the key, and he didn’t wait to give us the key until it went up to $5!
Oh the joys of motherhood! 

“ Lord thank you for my crazy kids. Help me to always have patience with them. Give me wisdom in raising them. Help me to always have joy in the midst of the chaos.”

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Live, Laugh, Love. :)

I have been thinking that it might be fun to write a little bit about what life has been like being a mommy of 6 little ones under 5 years old. I think that I am going to start doing this more for myself than anything else. I think that it will be good for me to be able to look back in a few months from now and see how far the Lord has grown me up, grown my kids up, and how He has grown us as a family.
The last four months with my three new little blessings has been such an adventure. We have had so many mountain top highs, as well as valley lows. I have moments where I find myself thinking “Wow! Look at how good they are being! I have got this down, this is easy!” These moments are usually few and far between and they go as quickly as they come. Lol!
The other day we were having a particularly good afternoon. The kids and I had been playing games together and we were all just enjoying being together as a family. I decided that because everyone was in such good moods it would be a good time to put everyone in the shower (well the youngest 5 anyway). I knew that it was not going to be easy to convince my twins to get in the shower because they prefer baths, but after lots of convincing I had everyone undressed and the process of “destinking” had begun, A few minutes into the shower I realized that I had to go to the bathroom! I know that it sounds crazy, but when you have 6 kids and you spend the day literally running you can actually forget to go. Anyway, I knew that the timing was not the best, but I hey, you have to do what you have to do (and when you have to do it). ;)
So I very quickly used the restroom and in the matter of half a second all 5 of the kids were SCREAMING! The screams were not the normal screams of whining, they were screams of sheer horror. I looked up to see four of the five kids running out of the shower. Before I even had time to see what was wrong Grace (2) was hiding behind a plant, Hope (4) was hiding under a towel, Lilly (2) was hiding behind the toilet (and flushing it over and over again), E.Z. (9 months) was still in the shower but pretty freaked out that everyone was screaming, and Jeremiah (2) had opened the door and was dancing in the hallway – totally wet and butt naked! ;) Why all the screaming you might ask? The answer – A roach. Yes, that is right. One little roach has the power to strike fear, terror, and wreak havoc in the lives of my little people. I managed to get them all calmed down within a few minutes but it took all week to be able to convince them that the “bug” no longer lived in the bathroom, and that it actually was safe for them to shower there.
I have learned the importance of laughter in times like these. It would be so easy to let stressful moments get me down, but I have learned that it will never help anything to stress. So what do I do when all 6 of kids are having a break down at the same time? What do I do when my 2 year old is dancing naked in the hallway? I LAUGH! That’s right, I laugh, and I thank the Lord for blessing me with these crazy, energetic, awesome, and totally wonderful kids. 

“Thanks God for blessing me with every one of my sweet babies. Please help me to be the very best mom for them. I want to serve You as I am serving them and their needs. Help me to raise them to love you , and give me the energy and the strength to do it. Love you Lord! Amen.”

Coming to the end of myself.

I know that it has been a little while since we have posted anything, but since my sister-in-law convinced me of the importance of keeping up to date I thought I would take a few minutes to catch up.
The kids and I are still in the U.S. waiting to be able to take our family home to Brazil. We are pretty much just in the waiting phase of this adoption. The seemingly endless homestudies and mountains of paper work are almost complete. We are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Now we just need to pray that the Lord will provide the finances so we can get rolling on the next phase of getting our family home (tickets, passports, and visas). We are praying about taking the kids home in the next month or so and then finalizing the adoption over the phone with a notary. We will just need a few more “mountains” to move in order to be able to do this.
The last few weeks I have had so many moments of freaking out. I start to think about all of the “Hows.” “How are we going to get all of this money together?” “How are we going to survive 6 kids under 6 years old on a plane and in airports for 30 hours?” “How am I going to manage raising 6 kids in Brazil when I had my hands full with 3?” “How, how, how?? Holy cow!!!? What are we doing? What have we gotten ourselves into?!”
It is in my moments of freak out that the Lord is always so faithful to show Himself to me. Not having Nate here has made me count on the Lord so much more. The Lord’s answer to these questions is always the same.
“You can’t do it. It is only by My grace that you are going to get through this.”
The Lord knows that I have a personality that I often need to be brought to the end of myself. I love to figure things out, and get things done. I also have times that I think that I love when people think that I am Super Woman! Haha, it is in these times that the Lord always lets me know that I am nothing without Him.
I remember a few months before I came back to visit the U.S.I had a time of being brought to the end of myself. It was shortly after EZ was born so I was still not feeling well after the surgery. It was almost dark, Nate was at a friend’s house, and I was alone with our 3 kids. I was just cleaning up and I heard our pittbull barking. I looked out the window and saw three guys trying to break into our house. I was a little scared because I was pretty sure that these were the same guys that had broke into my girlfriends house a few nights before. Poor thing, she woke up alone in the middle of the night with the guy just standing by her bed. The Lord had given her courage and protected her, but I was afraid of these guys boldness.
I went to the back window and started screaming for our neighbor to come and help but because of the strong wind that night they could not hear me. I gathered my kids, put them in their room, and then went to see if the guys had gotten in. I listened to the guys argue about how they were going to get by my dog. I started to scream again and my dog made it pretty clear that she was not going to let them just pass by. I am not exactly sure why, but they decided to go. Praise the Lord!
Nate came home a little later but the guys were gone. As I sat in my “bathtub” (a little plastic box filled with water) that night I began to think about what would have, or could have happened if the guys had gotten in. How would I have protected my kids when I was still sore from surgery? In that moment of emotions I started to cry.
“Lord, what are you doing?!” I asked “I have done everything that you have asked me to do! I moved here, I learned how to live here, I went through those terrible pregnancies, I have been poor, I have seen so many bad things - even my kids have seen so many bad things. I have had my pets taken hostage, other pets killed. We have had crazy people tell us that they were going to hurt our kids. We have watched adults get beat up, we have watched kids get beat up. I have opened up my home to people I don’t even know.. I have tried to always do what I thought it was that You wanted me to be doing. I LOVE it here Lord, but I am so tired. Please God, I don’t want to do this anymore. Please just send someone else. I am done. I can’t do this!”
As I sat there crying the Lord starting to speak to me. “I know that you can’t do this, but I know that I can.” It was then that I was reminded that the Lord does not need me. I am blessed to be able to be used by Him, but it should always be Jesus doing the work. I am just the vessel .
I think that I always have knows this simple truth, but because of my thick head I need to be often reminded of it. It is an awesome thing that the Lord would choose me to serve Him. I guess when He said He would use the foolish things of the world to confound the wise He was not kidding!
Please pray for us this next month as I am sure that Nathan and I both are going to have many moments of coming to the end of ourselves.
The Lord has already done so many miracles during this journey to adopt. I know that He would not have brought us this far unless He was going to be faithful to bring us to the end!

“Thank you Lord for your faithfulness. Thank you Lord for reminding me that without you I am nothing. Thanks for being my EVERYTHING! I love you.”

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Our Awesome Kids.

Jesus Loves Me This I Know!

Hello all you (two) people out there. It is I, Dani. :) If you know Nathan and I at all you will be shocked that we have made a blog for two reasons. The first reason being we are both far too unorganized to ever keep it up. The second reason being that we are both way too busy living our life to ever have time to write about it.
That being said, we are both going to try to be better about keeping people up-to-date on what is going on in our lives, and the work that the Lord is doing in us and through us. :)
One thing I love about growing up and going through life experiences is being able to better relate with some of the different examples that the Lord gives to us in His Word.
When Nate and I got married five and a half years ago I was better able to understand His example of the relationship between Christ and the church in Ephesians 5. When our first daughter was born in January of 2006 I was able to get a glimpse of just how much God loved us that He sent His only Son to die for us as talked about in John 3:16. Now that we are going through this adoption process I am better able to understand His examples of adopting us (found in Gal.4:5, or Eph.1:4).
I have six kids and not one of them is perfect (try not to be shocked). My three new little blessings are handfuls to be sure. Most of it is not their fault. They have been through a lot in their little lives.
A few weeks ago I was having a very tough day. I was sick, super sleep deprived, missing my husband, and dealing with some MAJOR bad attitudes.
By noon I had poop thrown at me twice, been bite three times, dealt with TONS of screaming, and to top it all off my face was dripping with spit from an angry two year old.
After I finally got everyone settled and down for a nap I cried out to the Lord and said,
"Father, are they ever going to realize what we are doing for them? Are they ever going to appreciate what we have given up for them? Are they ever going to love me the way that I love them?"
As I sat on my bed listening to the unusually quiet house I heard my answer in the form of a question.
"Have you My daughter? Do you My daughter?"
Wow! It was in that moment that something in my mind clicked. Jesus ALREADY knew what I was feeling because He had ALREADY done it. He gave up being with His Father (WOW!) - so I should be able to get through being away from Nate.
He knows what it is like to have your kids that you love spit in your face. Why? Because He ALREADY did it - AND (here is the crazy part) He did it for ME!!
So yes, while it may seem to me like no one knows what I am going through at times I have been reminded yet again that HE knows, and He cares!
I am also encouraged to think about the reasons why He did what He did for me. He did this all in order to have a relationship with me. This is my heart's prayer for all of my kids. I want a relationship with them. I want to always be there for them. I want them to always be able to come to me with anything.
I am so excited to see where that relationship takes us down the road in this life. I can not wait to see my kids walking with the Lord, growing in the Lord, and making the world a better place because they are in it.
Please continue to pray for us as we continue to take this step of faith.
Love always, Dani

Saturday, February 20, 2010

From 5 to 8

Ok so I know I have been needing to start this for a while, but I didn't know exactly where to start. So I have decided to start with the story of how we went from being the Cate 5, to the Cate 8. I think this will give you the background so that you understand as we continue this blog telling the stories of our walk of faith, the spiritual lessons we are learning, and the funny things our kids do, so here is the story...

We went back to the states in December for the holidays and to visit our family and church, planning to stay until the 23rd of January. The trip had been going really well, but then on the 21st of January we got a call from a that lady we used to help take care of her son, Benjamin, 4 years ago when we lived in the states. We used to watch Benjamin to try and help this single mom get back on her feet, but to make a long story short, after months of trying to help, and even talking about adoption, the Lord closed the door, and we ended up moving to Brazil. So we went to Brazil and didn't hear from her at all for 4 years, until 2 days before we were supposed to return to Brazil. While we were in Brazil she had twins. So she had not been doing well, and didn't have the ability or support to take care of the kids. Again to not go too much into detail, there were many problems at home, and social services was called to step in and do something with the kids. So a friend called us(since we just happened to be in the states) when she knew that she was not able to care for the kids anymore. So we went to her appointment she had with social services that same day(two days before we were to leave). Trusting that the Lord had us there at that time to help those kids even if just for a time, we decided to take them home that day, and see what God would have us to do. That morning in my normal daily devotions I was reading in Matt 18, and in verse 5 Jesus says "Whoever receives one little child like this in my name receives me." So that was confirmation that it was the Lords will to take them in and help them in some way, but thinking that it would be to help find a loving home for them, but not thinking to take them back to Brazil.
So we decided to have Dani stay with all six at our assistant pastors house and try to figure all this out, while I would go back to Brazil to the church, and the ministry. So I get everything packed, rented a car, had my tickets, and begin the 4 hour drive from Tampa to Miami to go to the airport, to go home to Brazil. About 5 minutes into the trip God begins convicting me through a Bible Study I was listening to in the car. The text was 1 Sam 13, when Saul makes a sacrifice without waiting for Samuel, and the whole thing was about being careful not to get ahead of God, even when it seems like a spiritual thing to do. God was convicting me, but I brushed it off and continued driving and put on another study. This time it was 2 Sam 5, when David goes to battle against the philistines and he prays for direction from the Lord, and God gives him victory. Then the philistines come back again, and David does not assume to just go up again, but seeks the Lord again, and God tells him not to go up, but to go a different way, but still gives victory. So God convicted me again that He has a different way for this to happen, and not just to do what I think in my mind, but to be lead by the Holy Spirit. So after an hour and a half of being convicted and fighting against it, I finally listened and turned around and went home.
So I canceled my ticket, and in time God confirmed to us that it was for us to adopt these three kids. So over the next two weeks we had two court appearances, a home study, a stack of paper to fill out that was thicker than a strongs concordance, and several visits from social services. Thank God the judge had favor on us and let the kids stay in our custody until the adoption is finalized, but that will stll take three months to happen. After those two weeks I did end up coming back to Brazil on my own, but in God's timing. If I hadn't been there for those court hearings we would not have been able to keep custody of the kids or do the homestudy, so God had a purpose in mind, and HIS timing is always perfect!
That is our latest huge step of faith in this journey we are on, and now I hope that I can continue to record on a regular basis the way that God is working all these things out on a daily basis as we continue in Him day by day.