Monthly Archives: July 2013

“I don’t even like children!”

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This post is dedicated to Hannah S. and Amy B., my dear sisters in Christ. I love you and will miss you terribly.

Yes, I said it. Ashamedly, it’s the truth. But before you judge me too harshly, let me explain…

Growing up, I was never drawn to children. I never sought out babysitting jobs or wanted to work in the nursery at church. Even as a young adult, I was never the woman who just had to hold a newborn. After having four children of my own, I still don’t have that desire. Sure, there are certain babies I can’t wait to hold, and I did enjoy serving in the nursery at Salem Bible Church. BUT, I’m just not that person who loves hanging out with a bunch of crazy kids.

Here’s the funny thing: God has placed two callings on my life that are in definite contradiction to my lack of child-liking.

The first one came early in life. In eighth grade Algebra I class, I knew I was destined to be a math teacher. Since I wasn’t even in high school yet, I didn’t know if I’d like teenagers or not. In fact, that wasn’t a concern. I knew I was a gifted teacher, for I loved helping my friends in any subject and they seemed to get it when I explained things. The teaching part didn’t worry me either. My fear was getting in front of people to talk! I was deathly afraid to give speeches or draw any attention to myself in large crowds. (And by large, I’m talking more than 3 people.) Shy doesn’t begin to describe my personality, so how was I going to do this??

Well, God doesn’t call capable people to do His work. He calls the obedient. While I don’t think I recognized my dreams as God’s calling on my life until years after eighth grade, I know it was God who equipped me to do it. I ended up loving my teaching job. I thoroughly enjoyed the teenagers…well, most of the time!

AHS Marching Band 2004

I even sponsored the marching band flag core.

The second calling came a little later, and it was placed on Aaron and I as a couple. God has called us to have a large family. That’s part of the struggle that I’ve had with the loss of Hannah. My question is “If God wants us to have a large family, then why did He take one of our children??” I obviously don’t have an answer for that. God works in mysterious ways, and I trust Him enough to leave it at that.

Family of 3

That’s not my point in this post anyway. My point is that God has called a woman (me!) who could live her life without kids to be a mother of as many children as God would bless her with. That’s just craziness. And that’s the way God works. His word says that “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) Did you catch that last part? God not only called me to mother many children but He also prepared IN ADVANCE for me to do this. Wow!

Noah inspecting Jacob 2

So, anytime that I get a blessing from God or even a hint that God might be blessing our family with another child, I get super excited. I don’t get excited because I love kids or I feel like a great mother or I feel worthy of such a calling. No, I get giddy because I know that each child is part of God fulfilling the purpose He has for me. He designed me to be a mother of lots of kids not by giving me all the things we think are necessary for good parenting. No, He did this by creating me in such a way that I am required to rely on Him. In order for me to raise the children God blesses me with, I must ask for and receive His help. When people see me with lots of kids, they MUST know that it’s God’s grace working through me, because I am not naturally equipped for this job! And while parenting is super hard, I delight in doing God’s work. I take joy and pleasure and I feel honored to be part of His plan.

Daddy and his boys

In the NASB version of the Bible, 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 sums it up pretty well: “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant.”

Family of 6!

No, this isn’t a baby announcement. We are waiting on God to bless our family with another baby. Many of you know that we’d love to adopt. Whatever God has for us, no matter how many children He has planned for us, we will joyfully receive each and every blessing.

Pure Bliss!

Until the next little bundle of joy is welcomed into our family, I will continue to enjoy my boys and cherish the moments I had with my daughter, my princess, my Hannah.

Praise and Prayer Requests:

1.) Please pray for my parents as they are en route! Pray for travel mercies and a joyful reunion with us.

2.) Praise God for Levi’s upcoming birthday. Please join us in praying blessings upon him as he begins his life as a 3 year old.

3.) Praise God for Noah, my firstborn. He has taught me more than I’d like to admit. 🙂

4.) Praise God for Jacob, my sweet little boy who is growing up way too quickly. He’ll be 5 soon but is mature beyond his years.

5.) Please pray for Levi, Jacob and Noah as the Bemms leave for Home Ministry Assignment (that means that they’ll be in the States for 5 months). My boys are super close with the Bemm children. Levi spends most of his time with their littlest 3. You can pray for them too as they travel back to PA!

6.) Please pray for us as we wait for God’s direction on the enlargement of our family.

7.) Praise God that He answers the prayers of His people.

“He didn’t select us to lead the study, mother the children, marry the man, lead the meeting, run the office, evangelize the tribe, or start the ministry because He knew we were already capable. Rather, He picked us up, dusted off our incapability, replaced it with His ability, and secured our success when we chose to rest and trust in Him to work supernaturally in us.” Priscilla Shirer Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed: A study of David

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4 Months

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July 14 came and went. It marked 4 months since our princess flew to Jesus. Sadness didn’t really hit me until the evening when all the boys were in bed and I looked at the date on the computer. Many of you saw my post and this adorable picture on facebook, but here it is for those non-facebook people. 🙂

Princess Hannah

Her onesie says, “Daddy’s little Princess.” She definitely was. Something special happens to a man’s heart when he has a daughter. I’m so sorry that Aaron doesn’t get to dance with his princess…at least, not for a very long time.

BUT, we are 4 months closer to the day when God calls us to heaven. We will be reunited with sweet Hannah. Our Hannah-shaped heart holes will be healed. We will be whole, perfect and complete because we will see Jesus as He really is. My longing for that day increases as times goes on.

Our days are still busy hosting visiting staff, summer reading and math, and preparing for my parents’ arrival. To say that we are excited to spend 10 glorious days with my parents is an understatement. The boys are counting down the days!

Praise and Prayer Requests:

1.) Please continue to pray for Aaron as his responsibilities increase each time someone goes on furlough.

2.) Praise God that Noah has a new friend. Unfortunately, he is here for 3 short weeks. Noah is already dreading the inevitable goodbye. Please pray for him as his friend’s departure approaches.

3.) On the same note, please pray for us all as the Bemm family returns to the States for 5 months. Levi’s 3 best friends will be leaving, along with Noah and Jacob’s good friend. Please pray that we will cope well in their absence, and pray for the Amy and Chuck and their 7 children as they travel July 22.

4.) Praise God that Dana Jacobs’ health is improving. Continue to pray that the adoption of Hope will progress quickly and smoothly, that Dana and her family will experience the Skekinah kind of God’s presence that we felt during our trial, and that she will be healed this side of heaven!

5.) Please pray for Tenwek Hospital. Pray for righteous, humble wisdom for the administrators. Pray for spiritual and physical healing for the patients. Pray for the chaplains and the local churches who minister to the patients’ spiritual health. Pray for all the doctors, nurses, and staff. Pray that they will honor God in all they do.

6.) Please pray for my parents as they travel July 20-22.

7.) Praise God that the boys are behaving like normal children (rather than like monsters) this week. Thank you for your prayers. The weather has been just beautiful so they’ve been playing outside all day. Glorious days in Kenya!!

Levi and his friends

 

Colossians 1:9-12 “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”

Short Stories

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So much has happened since my last post. It hasn’t been an extraordinarily busy week, but it has been full of fun times and accomplishments. I’ll share a hodgepodge of short stories from the week. I hope it gives you a taste of life here in Kenya.

Noah is an official second grader! As part of his first grade curriculum, he has read through the entire Bible, memorized 30 proverbs, and learned how to add and subtract two-digit numbers in his head! I’m so proud of him. He’s quite proud of himself too. When I showed him all the he had accomplished this school year, he beamed and was surprised by how much he had read. He doesn’t like to read, so to keep him from regressing, we are reading and doing math most days. Below is Noah holding his My Father’s World Bible Reader. (It’s the Bible he read from Genesis to Revelation!) I love My Father’s World!!

Noah with his MFW Bible

Jacob is getting really good at reading short words. However, as soon as he’s asked to read a sentence, he is too overwhelmed to read a single word! I guess that’s proof that he needs to repeat kindergarten next year. Although he completed a kindergarten curriculum this year, he will do kindergarten with a group of 5 year olds next year. He’ll still be the youngest in the group. I’m so proud of his accomplishments too! He knows the sounds of all the letters, can read well for a 4 year old, and has memorized 20+ Scripture passages! Did I mention that I love My Father’s World?!?!

Jacob and his memory verse badges

Levi is officially potty trained! Praise God!! He has been clean and dry all week, and he’s dry most mornings too! I’m so proud of him. Oftentimes, he’ll go pee in the potty without any help…BUT sometimes he pees outside…wherever he has the urge. It’s a good thing the neighbors aren’t too offended by him peeing in their yards! It’s quite common to see grown men peeing by the side of the road, so he’s just adapting well to the culture. 🙂

Big Boy Levi!

Aaron has taken over the directorship of the interns at Tenwek. That means a crash course in scheduling, lots more meetings, more responsibilities at the hospital and the necessity of carrying a keyring! Yikes!

We were blessed to have a baby in the house last week. Baby Joseph had spent a couple of hours with us the previous weekend, and the boys fell in love with him. They requested that he spend a day with us, and it happened! It was sweet (not bittersweet, to my surprise!) to see them play with a baby again. It probably helped that he was a boy, Kenyan, and only here temporarily. It did make me realize how much we had adapted to a new normal. When I had to leave the house, it was so cumbersome to carry a baby and all his gear in a diaper bag! Whoa! I was glad to give him back to my friend who is watching him. (Baby Joseph is from a local baby center.)

Baby Joe

In other news, I started an exercise program. I am doing a mix-match routine that involves P90X2, running and whatever other fun fitness opportunities that present themselves. As a result, a new set of muscles is sore each day! Over the past several weeks, we’ve had our share of chameleons as pets. They usually escape through a hole in the window screen. The last one we found looked pregnant, but it was sick. It died, and poor Noah had to rid the house of his remains. We still have one tiny little chameleon that Jacob named Cutie-Putootie. I’m not sure which one is pictured below…but it’s not the dead one or Cutie-Putootie.

Chameleon

As you can see, our new normal is taking shape, and on most days it feels good. But there are still hard days, days when Hannah’s death haunts me. It usually happens suddenly and unexpectedly, and it’s almost always when it’s quieter than usual. Visions of Hannah’s lifeless body laying on my chest flash through my mind. I can almost hear my own voice calling to Aaron that Hannah had stopped breathing. I relive every moment from the last breath on our couch to her last breath forever. Doubt creeps in. Surely I could have done something – ANYTHING – to save her!

My conclusion is always the same: nothing could have saved her because she wasn’t supposed to be saved. While Satan intends these moments to bring doubt, guilt or anger, the Holy Spirit is faithful to turn them into moments of peace, praise and thanksgiving. (see Joseph’s words in Genesis 50:20) I am fully confidently that every moment of those 26 hours were perfectly ordained by God. Psalm 139 tells me that every day of Hannah’s life was written in HIS book before one of them came to be (v16). No other 26 hour period of my life was lived so confidently inside of His perfect will, so I know it all happened as it was supposed to happen.

Of course I still wonder why it had to happen this way. Why couldn’t God accomplish His purposes any other way? I don’t have those answers, and I don’t expect to get them this side of heaven. What I do know is that Hannah’s story is still making an impact for God’s kingdom. We still get e-mails and letters that tell us that. Please keep sending us your stories. They are so encouraging! Isaiah 55:11 assures me that God’s purposes are always fulfilled, and at least one of His purposes is that more people be spiritually saved by our sweet baby girl’s story. That’s super exciting! While it doesn’t answer all my questions or make the pain go away, it does show me evidence that God knows what He’s doing. If it could have happened any other way, it would have. If God’s purposes could have been accomplished without cancer or death, that would have been His plan. He would have told Satan, “NO!” when he asked to afflict Hannah and her family with this tragedy. (see Luke 22:31 and Job 1:12, 2:6)

Because I love to hear the ways God is speaking to you through Hannah’s life and death, let me tell you one way He had impacted me. Just one more short story in this collection of sneak peaks into our lives.

While we were packing and preparing to move to Kenya, we purchased several in-depth Bible studies. One of them was Mercy Triumphs, the study of James, by Beth Moore. We chose this one because we thought it would be applicable to my new role as a missionary. Boy! I never dreamt that I would be living out and preaching James’ message before ever diving into the study! Each I read Beth’s words, worked on memorizing a section of James, listened to a video session or discussed the homework with my Bible study partner, I was encouraged, challenged and reassured that God is ever-present and perfect.

When He exhorted James to tell us “to count in all joy whenever you face trials of many kinds” or “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” or “Show me [your] faith by what [you] do,” He was speaking to all people of all times in all circumstances. Without knowing it, I was hearing the Holy Spirit speak much of James’ words to my heart as I walked through the valley of the shadow of death with Hannah. It was only later, after Hannah’s death, that I really began to study James and realized where in Scripture those promises and exhortations of the Holy Spirit came from. Simply amazing!

God is not a god of coincidences. He is a God of perfect timing! He truly has ordained each day of each of our lives. And for that, He deserves all the honor and glory and praise we can give Him. Amen? AMEN!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1.) Praise God that Aaron has NOT gotten another migraine. Please keep praying that he won’t! He does get headaches, but they are manageable. Pray for him as he takes on more and more responsibilities AND must carry a heavy clinical workload the next couple of months (because many long-termers are taking short furloughs).

2.) Praise God that Levi is potty trained! Finally!!! I know I already mentioned this, but I’m really excited about this!!

3.) Praise God for a successful school year despite our moves, Hannah’s death and much transition.

4.) Praise God for the ease of raising 3 boys. I vow to thoroughly enjoy my 3 (potty-trained) boys until God blesses our family with another child. It is blissfully easy to leave the house, and I will relish in that until it isn’t easy anymore!

5.) Please pray for my parents as they prepare to visit us later this month. Yes! My parents are visiting!! I’m so excited! And so are the boys!!

6.) Please pray for my boys. They are still acting out a little. Pray that they will make wise decisions, especially when they are outside. The increased freedom of living here presents more opportunity for bad decisions without immediate consequences. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it does take Aaron and I out of our normal parenting comfort zone. Pray for us as we figure it out!

7.) Please pray for me and my friend Ashleigh. We are in the VERY  beginning stages of a ministry for young mothers. Please pray for wisdom for us!

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”