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.”

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2 responses »

  1. Thank you, Steph, for all that you share—the ups and downs. I’m so glad you are enjoying the blessings and hard work while still acknowledging the painful times. We continue to pray for you all. Have a wonderful time with your parents!

  2. I just wanted you to know that I have been reading your blog for months now. I learned of your situation with Hannah through Todd and Jen’s blog (they are friends of ours). I pray often for you and your family as you walk through your journey of grief and dependence upon our Lord. God bless you.

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