Saturday, October 21, 2006

Update on Life

Sorry to those who have been visiting the site with no updates. It is nice that so many of you are visiting. Life has just been happening faster than I can catch up; thus the lack of posts. Below are some life happenings this month:

  • Jacob, Clive and I went camping last weekend. Here are some pictures and video to highlight the weekend. The first video is of a catapult that is launching pumpkins, man they were going far, and the 2nd video is a not-so-good catapult where the boys were catches water bags. Jacob is a proud Tiger Cub, and just passed his Bobcat patch. He is so excited.
  • We close on our house in East Nashville on Monday(tomorrow)!!! It has been a long wait, and are excited to start the renovation. I will keep everyone updated on the renovations. This is where I really hope that James's words in James 1:2-3 don't apply to this project... "count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." Actually, I expect many and various trials during this project...why wouldn't we? We are being purposeful in where we live and what we want to do in the McFerrin Park neighborhood, and Satan hates that; I expect his lies to kick in soon. Actually, we spent the day yesterday in the neighborhood at a festival/cookout. It was a good reality check because the kids there have zero manners. It reminded me of the Nanny McPhee where her first goal was to get the kids to just say please.
  • We've had to be even more intentional with Eva and Angel bonding. My parents were in town 2 weeks ago and I took them and the kids to my mother-in-law's place in Knoxville so Angel and Eva could have only a day together. To the outsider they seem very close/bonded, but there are times when Eva still rejects Angel (hurt, angry at Isabel....). Angel has been sick this weekend and it has been nice to see Eva run to the couch and lay with Angel.

It is my intention to get back to posting more frequently.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Art Exhibit Not To Miss

Angel and I finally had a date this month. We went to our friend's art exhibit, David Arms (please check out his work). Wow, David never ceases to amaze me how he paints a picture to speak words, and how Lloyd is so good at using words to paint a picture. Lloyd, our teaching pastor at Fellowship, and David Arms have used their conversations about the Christian life to create David's exhibit.

I would encourage you to go to Bennett Gallary. It ends at the end of this month, so don't delay.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Survivor Saturday Summary

Well, the social experiment is all but over. They merged tribes from 4 to 2. The Aitu tribe, with Yul and Jonathan have a "white/asian" alliance. But not due to not wanting to include anyone else, they just are really trying to play the strategy game, while the others like Cowboy and the roller skating chick are just wanting to enjoy the experience- BORING!!! I can't make sense of why Ozzie didn't try to join Yul and Jonathan's alliance? Ozzie will regret that.

Voted off = Cecilia because of her physical weakness. I agreed, the best choice to go.

Biggest mistake of the day = Yul telling Becky about the Immunity Idol. What was he thinking!!

Best performance of the day = Raro tribes' dominance in the challenge. Aitu has a lot to fear with all the brute strength of Raro.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Raising Modern-Day Knights

Every Wednesday morning I join other fathers in learning how to Raise a Modern-Day Knight; taught by Robert Lewis. One of the most compelling lessons I've learned so far is from Proverbs 17:6 "Grandchildren are the crown of old men, and the glory of sons is their fathers." The word "glory" hear means weight, which directly impacts strength, stature and stability. So, the weight/strength/stature and stability of my 3 sons is what I poor into them. Wow, what a responsibility. I've always struggled with my skinny physical appearance, but this truth made me look inward at how "skinny and weightless" I was as an 11 year boy whose parents were splitting up; who only saw his dad every Tuesday night and every other weekend. I was a high schooler who was never taught how to treat a women, how to show self-control. I was not weighty. I soooo want my sons to be weighty, to be strong, and stable.

Last Saturday I had homework. I had to take Jacob on a date and have him size me up as a dad. I asked him 1) How am I doing, or where am I succeeding w/ you as a dad? 2) What do I do best as a dad? 3) Where do you think I sometimes fall short as a dad? 4) What is one thing you would change about me as a dad if you could?

1) Jacob said "your doing good, you protect us from doing things dangerous that might hurt us."
2) "You play with us, like football and Dragon and the Knight (I'm the dragon and I chase the boys around the house, when I catch one of them the others have to tackle me to free their brother)."
3) "I don't like you leaving in your car without me," and "you go to work too much."
4) He struggled to understand this question and just repeated that he wished I didn't have to go to work so much.

My desire is to be strategic with my sons about what it means to be a man, a real man. My sons may be physically skinny like me, but they will never be emotionally skinny. We have started to repeat the definition that Robert Lewis uses: a real man rejects passivity, accepts responsibility, leads courageously, and expects God's greater reward.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Canoe Video

This was the highlight event of the summer for the Pregont boys.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Eva's New Hair!!!

Eva's new hair du!! Doesn't she look beautiful? Our pastor's wife, Robin, did her hair yesterday. I've been waiting to have her hair done like this ever since we got her. I just love what we will be able to do with her hair. She walks around so proud of herself, she knows she is beautiful.

Survivor Saturday Summary

Cowboy is the second coming of Ruppert, just skinner. The bad wind was removed again!!!! Yesterday I saw a bunch of co-workers with red spots on their foreheads, they just said- "no more bad wind!" (OK, just kidding but I'm sure many people out there have tried it).

The Latino tribe was in a tuff dilemma. Noone could sleep with Billy snoring, Billy was lazy, Billy doesn't help with challenges- gee I guess this wasn't a hard decision after all. I have had roommates who snored sooo loud I couldn't sleep for nights. You go crazy. I was glad to see the cop chick voted off Billy too. I guess it was the surprise love affair with Candace from the Caucasian tribe. Jeff's response to that was classic, he about wet his paints. I think we all did!!

So Billy is gone, but I think Ozzie just sealed his fate. Billy may have gone nuts if he'd stayed on any longer.

Yul ROCKS!!! Everyone listen to me, if you are going to ever be on Survivor, do NOT send the strongest person to Exile Island because he/she will find the immunity idol. You may do it toward the end because the idol will most likely have been found, but soooo early- Billy was smart to send Yul to get back at the tribe for throwing the challenge. See Survivor Live to see Billy admit he chose Yul so he could find the idol. Maybe Billy isn't so nuts after all.
Until next week....

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Survivor's "Social Experiment"

This past Thursday night was the season opener for Survivor Cook Islands. Angel and I's one vice on TV is must see Thursdays; except it is CBS not NBC (Survivor and CSI). We are excited to see what we and America will learn with racially divided tribes.

The Asian tribe is concerned that this might strengthen Asian stereotypes, yet also excited to removed some stereotypes. I think all the tribes will at some point do both. The banter is already on the web about how pro-white it is because the African American tribe was the first to lose, and how the African American tribe voted off a white guy. What I hope we see from all of this is that personality, actions, attitude, aptitude are reasons why people team up and vote for people. I actually thought that Jonathan (white guy who is on exile island) should have been the one to go because he stole a chicken, then acted like "oh, I didn't know...dah". He knew he was wrong and had a chance to make it right before the challenge, but chose to act innocent and "oh shucks did I do that." Actions, not race got him to exile island.

For those of you who know our family, don't think that we are against the Latino/Hispanic tribe just because that is the only race not represented in our family.

Who loved the "bad wind" healing? That was awesome!!! Today, my Chiroprator was doing something like Cowboy did, and I just started laughing. It is too bad that Dr. Skye doesn't watch Survivor; it would have freaked me out if he all of sudden said, "Matt, you have bad wind (not to be confused with bad gas) in your sinuses, here I will get it out." Let me tell you, my sinuses feel great since the bad wind was released.

Keep tuned into the blog on Saturday's as I write thoughts on Survivor's social experiment; called Survivor Saturday Summary.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Daddy Hair Du's

Here are my beautiful girls, thanks to my hair du skills.

Angel went to a women's event today at church, and I'm with all 5!! Who said a white man can't pick hair, granted I didn't braid or press Eva's hair. No, I'm not trying to put Isabel's hair in a pig tails because they will be so uneven you may get dizzy lookn' at 'em. (Hold on, my arm has a cramp in it from giving myself a pat on the back.)

Better now, as I was saying....I'm alone with the clan. Thinking about going to the zoo today to bond with my children (aka- waste time). No, just kidding, I actually enjoy going to the zoo with just me and the kids. 3 of 'em don't get out of the stroller, while Jacob and Clive do a good job of staying close (see, Angel's family- the kids can behave).

Quick story of Hudson and then you can go on to other blogs. (just had to get Hudson and Isabel out of the bathroom because they were getting water all over the place) So, back to Hud. Hudson went to a speech pathologist this week, and here is the funny dialog:

Speech Pathologist: "What would you do if a stranger tried to get you into his car?"

Hudson: "I will kill him (actually is was more like 'I would till him')."

Speech Pathologist: "You would kill him?"

Hudson: "Yes, I would till him" (all the time with a straight face)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Lessons from a Crocodile Hunter

There is a wonderful article about the lessons in life that Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, taught us. Please go to Brian Petak's blog and read this great article!!

Monday, September 04, 2006

East Nashville, the Pregonts are Coming

Above is a picture of the house we are buying in East Nashville. 315 Hancock Dr, and it is in the McFerrin Park area.

Below you are looking at the kitchen, with the pantry to the left, and what will be the boys room through the door on the right.

Below is a picture of the living room.

As you can tell the house needs some work. We are getting a good deal, so we will be able to afford to fix up the house. The first two things we will do is raise the ceiling because in the 70s many homes in that neighborhood lowered their ceilings to save energy, and we will be redoing all the hardwoods that are in the living room and all the bedrooms (oh yes, the paneling has gotta go!). We are going to start with the downstairs, and will continue to rent out the 2 upstairs apartments. We don't want to keep the 2 apartments too long or my mother and my mother-in-law may think they are welcome to them. Wouldn't that be a sight- Linda and Peggy under the same roof. The flea markets and the nearest Wal-Mart will love them. Just kidding.....

The house is just over 2800 sq ft, with 3 bedrooms downstairs and we will be able to make about 3 rooms and a rec room upstairs when we get to that. We are about 3 blocks away from our friends Thom and Michelle Hazlip. Thom will be my Project Manager for the rehab for those who know me and know that I'm not the most skilled craftsman.

We are excited and scared at the same time. Excited to get involved, get dirty, get to really know a neighborhood that needs light and hope and I believe can teach me many things. Excited not be pinned down to a mortgage. Scared that this house may be a money pit, that my kids or wife won't like city living, and of that some crack house may start-up next door. Linda and Peggy, don't worry there is only one active crack house in the area and 2 guys I know are actively trying to get it shut down. I'll keep you posted on when we start the fixn up.

I've Been Tagged

Brian Petak tagged me with a reading list blog-tag.

One book that changed your life: Chuck Colson and Daniel Van Ness's Convicted. This book shaped my focus in college and my early professional career into the arena of Restorative Justice. The term Restorative Justice was introduced to me in this great book; simply put it means to restore the shalom (peace) that was broken by the crime. I learned that our current criminal justice system is soley focused on the crime being against the state and not the victim. Whereas the biblical approach to justice is that the crime is against the victim and thus the offender should restore or provide restitution to the victim.

One book that you've read more than once: Waking the Dead by John Eldredge. Waking the Dead is jammed packed with truths about our heart and how our heart, when it is alive and living, brings glory to God. In the book you are shown why mythical stories are so compelling to us. Mythical stories are really a mirror to our soul and a mirror to the heart of God.

One book that you'd want on a deserted island: I would take my NASV bible because alone on an island, I would need all the truths of scripture to prevent me from going crazy. I prefer my NASV over my new ESV because the NASV bible I have also has a Greek/Hebrew dictionary and concordance.

One book that made you laugh: I'm going to cop out here and say any of the prairie Home Companion books and audibooks. Kellor just flat out makes me laugh with his stories. I think its because I grew up in neighboring Wisconsin and grew up with a bunch of Lutherans.

One book that made you cry: C.S. Lewis's book A Grief Observed. I've read this book through 2 times. It is his personal journal after his wife dies of cancer. This book was very helpful while I worked at MADD as a Victim Advocate. I learned a little of what goes on in the heart of someone who is grieving, and what not to say. If you are grieving anything, it is the book to read.

One book that you wish had been written: What to do when a Catholic is Born Again; how to be a Christian and not Hate the Catholic Church. When I became a Christian I was a Catholic, and when I left the Catholic Church I grew to hate it because of what pastors would say about it, and because the catholic church I went to never encouraged any of its members to read the bible. I was never told that my sin was separating me from God. At 10 years old, I got angry out of ignorance to the church. On the flip side, many of my Catholic family treated my mother and siblings as "traitors" to the church. I wish there would have been a book written back in 1983 about how to walk through this transitional period as Christ would have. This would have spared me many arguments with my step dad when I was a "know it all" college student. I have since asked forgiveness from my step dad for all the stupid and embarrassing things I would say about the Catholic Church.

One book you wish had never been written: I would have to agree with Brian Petak, The Da Vinci Code. Mainly because it has discouraged so many "seekers" that the church is this archaic and clandestine group of males that seeks to minimize women. Also, the book exposed believers to how poorly equipped we are to defend the history of the bible and of who Christ is.

One book you are currently reading: Commentary of Galatians by Marin Luther. I've enjoyed the focus of Luther's keeping anything "extra" out of salvation. As Lloyd Shadrach says about this, "it is faith in Christ + nothing = Salvation." Meaning, that good works, obeying the law, going to church, etc does not bring you salvation. Only faith in Christ, only.

One book you've been meaning to read: Once again, I am agreeing with Brian. Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. My good friends Tyler and Lindsey Clements (who frequent this blog, so Hi) named their son after Brennan Manning. If they respect and appreciate what he's written, then I need to read it. Also, Manning was very influential in the life a pastor that I grew up with, and I respect him and the Clements and want to understand Manning's influence in 2 close friends.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Lessons from the Kite Runner

The book, Kite Runner is by far one of the best books I've read in a long time. Being in an airplane for 20 plus hours helped me to get through this audio book quickly.

The four major themes/golden nuggets of wisdom for me were:

1. Every sin is THEFT

2. Being hard on myself is SELFISH

3. A man who doesn't stand up for himself won't STAND UP for anything

4. There are a lot of children in Liberia, but very few CHILDHOODS

Below is a breakdown of how these golden nuggets have impacted me:

1. Every sin is theft in someway. For example, murder is stealing someone's life from them. More personal, when Angel asks me "whatcha thinkn about?" and I lie to her by saying "nothin," I am robbing her of the truth and I'm stealing from her an opportunity to know my heart better.

2. Being hard on myself is selfish because the consequences affect others. This summer I've been very hard on myself for giving into certain struggles. I've not wanted to share it with Angel for my shame was too strong. So instead I was moody, distant and depressed. This book helped me put what I've been doing into perspective. The main character stuffs guilt deep down and for a long time, until it becomes too consuming. With the book in the back of my head, and a recent sermon from our Pastor of Congregational Care, Jeff Helton, who had everyone do a Marriage Intimacy Inventory, I was compelled to open up. During this intimacy inventory I finally shared my shame, let loose, allowed myself to either be accepted or rejected by Angel. Many things I shared were no surprise to Angel; she just wanted to know my heart, my struggles, my thoughts, and my dreams. I realized after that conversation that I was a theft, stealing intimacy from my wife because I was selfishly holding back from her.

3. A man who doesn't stand up for himself won't stand up for anything. The character's father would say this to him as a boy because the character's friend would always stand-up to bullies for him. This is a pretty bold statement, and throughout the book you see this truth. Standing up is not just about fighting physically, but standing up for oneself in normal conversations, meetings, and yes even blogs. I'm a pleaser, so this has consistently been something I've worked on for years. "You don't need to say anything right now, say it later when you're alone with that person, or when it is a better time," is what often goes through my mind when someone says something that I don't necessarily agree with. As you can image, that "better time" conveniently never comes. This played out yesterday with my realtor, I should have stressed more to him that we are serious about looking into Davidson County and not Williamson County and that yes, we are very serious about East Nashville. Instead after he talked about a few houses in Spring Hill and Franklin, I just said "OK." Not that we aren't open to those areas, but I should have stressed East Nashville.

4. There are a lot of children in Liberia, but very few childhoods. The same is true for the author when he goes back to Afghanistan during the Taliban rule, a few years after the Russians left. Liberia is coming off of 14 years of civil war, and many young adults and children were raised without there parents, or if they were, it was in refugee camps in the Ivory Coast. My heart breaks because I think about who will step into leadership, who will educate the children, who will create safeguards from allowing a tyrant like Charles Taylor to come into power? Children without childhoods rarely are able to act like adults when they are adults. Evidence is clear when after the war, the Liberians elected Charles Taylor in a democratic election. Granted he never took office due to the fact the UN went after him for many war crimes.

I hope you all go out and buy the book. It is well worth it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Vacation in North Myrtle Beach

Aren't the sisters beautiful!!!! They love the beach. They will stand at the edge of the water, take a few steps into water when the tide is going out to the ocean, and when the waves come in, they laugh all the way back to "dry land." And then they do it all over again.
I think Jacob and Clive have been in the ocean the entire trip. They love it, except getting the salty water in their mouths'.
This was the view the entire way to the beach, my brother-law's Extera. Granted I was usually a little further away as he decided to act like Jeff Gordon the whole way by doing 85+ mph (South Caroline is only 65mph on the interstate. (sorry Mark, hope Donna doesn't read this post).
This the view from our condo.

We are loving our North Myrtle Beach vacation. Last night we stayed up with the adults and played board games, and yes (Baptists close your eyes) we played a dice game called 5000. Well, I better keep this post short because I had to go to an Atlanta Bread Co. to get internet service. Angel and I will be playing tag team, she will be coming back to clean up her emails. These condos need to get into the Info Age.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Breaking News!!! Wisconsin Drops Mike and Mike Show

This just in...Green Bay, Madison and Greater Milwaukee radio stations have officially dropped ESPN's Mike & Mike show. "The listeners are the ones who pay our bills; so we must listen to them about this outcry of anger," says one radio Program Director. Listeners have been calling in record numbers, demanding that their radio station drop the Mike & Mike Show due to irreverent and unholy-type statements regarding Brett Favre. "If Brett's not number 1 in Greenberg's eyes, then Mike & Mike won't be in ours';" says one die-hard Packer fan, and former Mike & Mike listener.

Mike Greenberg was not available for comments.

Also, in the news- local Wisconsin Ice Salesman just landed huge contract to supply ice to all inhabitants of the Yukon Territory in Northern Canada.

By Coming Home Chronicle Editor and Chief, Matt Pregont

Friday, August 18, 2006

Mike & Mike on Brett Favre

I just wanted to vent about my irritation at Mike Greenberg of ESPN's Mike & Mike. Thursday he stated that Brett Favre was the Nolan Ryan of the NFL. Meaning, that his personality, passion and likeability factor is what makes him a legend, not that he is one of the best. Greenberg says that Nolan Ryan is not one of the top ten best pictures of all-time, maybe not even in the top 20 of all-time. I think he's wrong there too. Nolan is at least a top 15 best picture of all-time. Come on over 300 wins (by the way, I saw Nolan 300th game victory at Milwaukee County Stadium- best game I've ever been to).

Brett Favre is absolutely one of the top 10 quarterbacks of all time; maybe top 5 (I'm biased and would say he is a top 5). Yes, Favre is beloved and has a huge fan base like Nolan. Yes, Favre is tough and doesn't get hurt like Nolan. Both had great arms. That's where it stops.... Favre is number 2 all-time in wins, touchdowns and total passing yards. Not to mention in the top 10 in about every other QB stat (yes, maybe even interceptions). Then to top if off, Greenberg throughs in Joe Nameth, and he how is loved and how famous he was, but he wasn't one of the best at his position. True, Joe was inconsistent and died off into the sunset quickly. Not Favre....the man has played more consecutive games than any other QB, EVER. I get sooooo tired of Dan Marino being put above Favre. Dan never won a Super Bowl, Favre went to 2 and won 1. Oh, he won a Super Bowl faster than John Elway. It took John 3 tries, Brett 1. Brett 1, that sounds good- that's because it is true. He is and will always be in the debate as to whether he, Joe Montana, Fran, Terry, Unitus and Elway are the best.

My Trip to Liberia

Below is a summary I wrote for our Adoption Agency, Acres of Hope. Many people were asking me write my thoughts of Liberia and the adoption process. It has been humbling to receive positive feedback from this summary that I am embarassed to admit that I wrote between conference calls at work (sorry boss, if you're reading). Keep in mind the audience is for parents who are adopting from Liberia:

My trip to Liberia can be summarized in two categories: the Adoption Process and the Country of Liberia.
The Adoption Process: For those of you who are just starting the adoption process, please beware that the Liberian adoption process is new and everyone is learning something new all the time (AoH, Liberian Government and the US Embassy). We adopted our daughter, Isabel, from China in 2004, and one way to compare the 2 adoptions is that China was like a General Motors assembly plant - all the people have their assignments and execute it daily. It is very much an assembly line adoption process. No surprises, every step outlined and executed flawlessly. As a parent when you go there you are just told where to sign and where to be. While Liberia is like a start up company. Very passionate and excited about how the children are being rescued. New glitches in the system are found frequently and often times the customer who has their order in must wait. This is not to say one is better than the other, but to say that expectations need to be realistic. Two families who came before me to get their children had to stay in Liberia longer than expected, so you can imagine my fear this would be my fate. While there I understood how this could happen and realized I needed to show grace to all parties. This is all about the child and not the parent; so whatever it takes I was willing to do. My point in all this is that I came into this not having realistic expectations; therefore I was not always patient and understanding. My wife and AoH often felt the affects of this; which I am very very sorry.
If only one parent is traveling, please make sure you understand how the I600 form should be filled out with the parent who is staying in the US. Power of Attorney means nothing for this form, the parent in the US must fill it out. We had to fax (scan and email) the I600 form to Angel, have her sign it in front of a
notary public and get it stamped (never use a notary who uses the emboss type
stamp, make sure it is an ink stamp) and then fax it (scan and email it) back to
Liberia. Thank God for the Sheppard's, who I stayed with because, they have
email and a printer, without them we would have been in trouble.
We took all copies of the forms we filled out, but failed to bring receipts, please bring
all receipts because I had to pay 2 times for the I600 fee because the Department of Homeland Security did not communicate to the US Embassy that we had already paid this $545 fee. Now, AoH is working on the Liberian side to get us reimbursed.
The Country of Liberia: It is very hot there, but I forgot about my personal suffering when I saw the poverty and desperate situation of the Liberians. The poverty seemed similar to when I was in Tegucigalpa, Honduras in the late 90s. The difference was at the airport in Honduras there were little children outside the airport begging for money, but in Liberia there were grown men begging for your money (actually, they wanted a tip for "looking after" your bags, even though they may never have touched your bags). The men and teenage boys were on me very quickly saying "I'll carry your bags." Fortunately, AoH was there, and they will get you through this hectic process.
Make sure to take small denominations of money for tips and other small purchases. What happened with me is that I just took $20s, so if something was $10, I got change in Liberian money or in Euros while I was in Brussels. If I would have had 5s and 1s it would have made it easier.
I fell in love with the people very quickly. Actually at the airport in Brussels. Harold Anglin and I were talking to a Liberian man, and all of a sudden he saw a former high school class mate. Many others who were going to Liberia would see old friends they hadn't seen in years. It was beautiful!! The women who saw me with Eva thought it was great that I would adopt a Liberian, but I did run into a few men that would say "why you taking away our wives?"When you get there you will most likely ask yourself "why can't things be better?" From what I saw, granted I was only there a week. The pot holes are the size of in ground pools. There is no such thing as a Sunday stroll in Monrovia because you are dodging the pot holes and dodging the other cars who are dodging their pot holes; all the time hearing every cars beep their horn. To fix the streets you need concrete, to get concrete you need concrete mix, rocks and sand. To get the concrete mix you can have it imported. For example the cost of the bag of concrete mix is about $2.00, but you have to ship it, but if it is shipped on a large ship that ship will have to go to a different port and then put your shipment into a smaller boat so it can get into the port of Monrovia. The Port of Monrovia is the deepest port in the world, but the port has about 6 or 9 sunken ships in it, so the large ships can't get in. So, you have your shipment in the Port of Monrovi! a and you have to pay off everyone and their uncle to get the shipment off the boat. By the time you get your shipment your bag of concrete mix goes from $2 to $50 per bag. This illustration was told to me by a guy who is doing some great humanitarian work and flies back and forth about every other month from the US to Liberia.
Also, the government employees only make about $20 per month, but a bag of rice is $25. The road is not only a tough one to recover from the war, but it seemed to me like they are running backwards up a steep mountain. The UN has a huge presence there, mostly to do check points and at night they work to prevent theft and other night crime. I don't know how the NGOs (Non-Government
Organizations, much like our Non-Profits) keep hope alive. The President is
working to improve things. I saw electric poles and transformers go up all over
the city. They say that by July 26th, Liberian Independence Day, that the city
should have electricity. The benefit for the people immediately will be lighted
streets at night, and for those who have money they can get electricity in their
homes. I was able to talk with a man who had gone to the Ivory Coast as a
refugee during the war. He had some amazing stories of survival and God's
provision. We often see sensational news stories about someone who walked
hundreds of miles to do such and such....that was a common thing for any
Liberian refugee during the war. All this to say that I encourage all of you to
experience Liberia because you will be better equipped to talk to your children
about their people, their history, and the country's future. You will get a glimpse of true struggle, and how people can still be so joyous and friendly.
In closing, expect delays and set backs, expect to be stretched in your faith, and know that AoH is doing everything they can to: care for children they have and make room for those who need to come, please adoptive parents, work with birth parents, process the court documents, arrange the Embassy paperwork, jump over new hurdles, all making sure they are beyond reproach so everyone knows they are not trafficking children.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mary Update, Home by Christmas?

One thing I failed to mention on my last post is that we are in the process of adopting a 6 year old girl, Mary, from Liberia. OK, I can read your, the Pregont's aren't crazy for having 6 kids. I would like to say I've always wanted 6 kids, but that isn't true. I thought we were done at 4, and then 5 but God ..... and Angel weren't. It wasn't until I really prayed about whether adopting Mary was what was best for my family that I understood the whole metaphor of a quiver that David writes about in Psalms 127:4&5, were he states: "Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them..." Our quiver didn't feel full until we said "YES" to Mary. A couple of days after our decision to bring Mary home, Angel and I both were thinking that our family feels complete. It is the first time we've ever said that. I am not one that says "you have to have a big family." Each families' quiver is different in size, and this fallen man is not about to judge a family for having 1 or 2 children.

I read a great article in Christianity Today's August 2006 magazine called "The Case For Kids, a defense of the large family by a 'six time breeder." by Leslie Leyland Fields. It is great article on the inner reasons we have children, and how children who come from larger families are able to be more tolerant of others, able to work with different personalities in the workplace, and are exposed to leadership qualities earlier in life. Maybe this why I'm not more successful at work; I only had 1 brother and 1 sister.

Angel and I will often think into the future, wondering who are children will marry, and what nationality they will be. As a boy growing up I liked girls that looked like my mom and sister; well, our boys will have 3 different "looks" to like. I get excited about that. No, I'm not excited about my girls dating, they will have to wait till they are 35 :-).

Back to the topic at hand. We just heard from our adoption agency that Mary's paperwork is in the court process. What that means is now the court officials will seek out Mary's family (mom or dad, and then if they can't find them, then grandparents, aunts/uncles) to confirm to the court that they wish to relinquish parental rights. Keep in mind that Mary has been at this orphanage for 3 years, so it is not likely that someone will all of a sudden want to take her back in. We have been cautiously told 3 months, so we are just praying that she will be home by Christmas. While in Liberia I found out an amazing thing. Liberians name girls that don't have a name- Mary, like our John Doe/Jane Doe. So, there is a chance that she is not too attached to her name. Also, many of the children at this orphanage know that their name will be changed when they get adopted. When the court papers are complete and parental rights are transferred to us, we will be able to call Mary over the phone and I will say something to the affect: "I have named all my children, I would like to name you, would you like a new name." The names in contention are Anna, Hope, Ruby and a few others. Right now we can mail her some little things like lotion, ear rings, etc... It is hard at times when I really think about what she is going through daily. I just want to hop on a plane and get her.

I will keep everyone updated on Mary Coming Home. At the top of the post is the latest picture of her. Isn't she beautiful!!!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Family Picture

This is my family!!! For those who are visiting or those I know but haven't kept in touch with, let me introduce my family. From left to right is: Clive (5 yrs), Me, Jacob (7 yrs), Hudson (3 yrs), Eva (21 months), Angel (beautiful wife), Isabel (2.5 yrs). Yes, that's right I have 5 kids 7 yrs old and under. For those surprised by the size, yes they were all planned- no accidents.

To address the obvious, we have 2 girls that don't "look" like us. Isabel is from China and she Came Home December 2004, and Eva is 21 months old and she Came Home to us 4 weeks ago from Liberia, West Africa. As you can see Isabel is not all that thrilled, that's because this picture was taken when Eva and I flew into Nashville Intl Airport from Liberia. She was not and still isn't all that excited to have competition for mommie's attention. While they don't look like us, it is unbelievable how quickly you forget that. I could go on and on, and I will in a future post, about adoption, bonding, inter-cultural family, having a large family, etc....

We tell people that Jacob looks like Angel, but has my personality; Clive looks like me, but has Angel's personality; Hudson is a perfect mix between Jacob and Clive, and he has a little bit of both of our personalities. Angel is homeschooling Jacob for the second year. He is very excited to start first grade. Clive will begin kindergarten with Angel this fall.

Hope you visit my blog again. This is my first post, so please come back. It is my intention to write often, but let's see if aspiration meets reality.