Monthly Archives: September 2013

Stung

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“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

I Corinthians 15:55

About a month before Noah was born, my grandfather passed away. Five weeks after Noah’s birth, Aaron’s father died. Then, only a few short months after that, my grandmother joined her husband in heaven. It was a time of great grief. I remember thinking how can I delight in my newborn when all this death is surrounding me? Of course, I did find joy in my little blonde bundle of cuteness, but it wasn’t without mourning, guilt and internal struggle.

Grandpa K and Noah

Then, about 2 years later, as Aaron and I contemplated having a second child, all those feeling flooded back. I remember crying out to God, really wrestling with Him, over the conception of another child. I pleaded, “God, if people have to die every time I have a baby, then please don’t let me have any more children.” I just couldn’t bear the thought of who might die and how my life would be impacted.

God gave me peace after all that wrestling and crying. We conceived, but then I bled. I seriously thought I miscarried Jacob. I immediately questioned God’s provision and plan. What in the world is He doing?? Fortunately, all the anxiety was for nothing, and Jacob was healthily growing in my womb. 8 months later, he was born perfectly healthy but 5 weeks early. No one died. We thoroughly enjoyed our second bouncing baby boy and delighted in being a family of 4.

Grammy W and Jacob Lois and Jacob

Two years later, we welcomed a third boy, Levi, into our family without a thought of what might happen.

Grammy W and Levi

And 18 short months later, Hannah was born. I won’t go into her story, but you can read it in this previous blog post. I’ll just say that her conception, birth, life and death were clearly and painstakingly ordained my our Creator God.

Baby Hannah

Now, at this phase of life, I find myself back in a time of great grief…but this time there is no new life.

As you all know, Hannah left us for her forever home 6 months ago. Since then, both of Aaron’s grandmothers have joined our daughter in heaven. While we anticipated missing their last moments here on earth and subsequent memorial services, we are sad that we couldn’t say proper good-byes or be with our families during this time of mourning. We are jealous that they’re dancing with our princess. We feel the sting of death.

Grammy Walker and Hannah

The Bible says in I Corinthians 15:56 that “the sting of death is sin.” That’s not the sting I’m talking about, but sin is the reason I’m feeling stung. Sin is the reason death exists. Sin is the cause of cancer, disillusions, illness and suffering. Because of all these (and many more) things, we feel a sting to the core when some one we love leaves us. Even when we know without doubt that they are going to heaven, it still hurts.

BUT, this passage goes on to say, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (v57-58)

Although this period of deep grief is harder and without a new life to bring comfort and hope, we still have comfort, hope and so much more. This time, my faith is stronger. This time, I have the first valley experience to draw from. I know, from personal experience, that God is sufficient and faithful and trustworthy. I know that crawling out of the valley is painful and difficult but it will happen. This time, I have a huge support system to help me carry the burden of mourning. This time, I know my Creator more intimately. I know He’s the keeper of promises. He is the Lover of my soul, the Lifter of my head, my Rock and Redeemer.

While this latest death makes me ache for heaven even more, I will set my eyes on Jesus, the Maker of the heavens and earth. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, He watches over us, loves us and protects us. I believe it because that’s what His Word says.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Please continue to pray for the people in Nairobi who have been wounded in the terrorist attack on Westgate Mall.

2. Praise God that no one from Tenwek was shopping at Nakamutt at Westgate this weekend! We all shop there frequently, so it’s God’s protection that we weren’t there during this violent attack.

3. Praise God that the co-op is running smoothly. Miss Lisette is here and taking over many teaching responsibilities this week. I’m sure she’d appreciate your prayers as she adjusts to her full schedule.

4. Praise God that I no longer teach second grade science or math! It was a big decision for me to give up teaching Noah math, but I thought it was best for him to try to learn from another person. (We’ve been having discipline issues in math class, and I’m hoping it was because mommy was the teacher. We’ll see how he behaves and learns from someone else!)

5. Please pray that Noah will be able to focus in class. He’s doing so well one-on-one with me, and he really loves being in class with his 3 classmates. However, his ADD tendencies are rearing their ugly heads. Please pray that he’ll be able to learn coping mechanisms and that he won’t be a discipline issue for Miss Lisette.

6. Please pray for godly wisdom as we decide whether or not to purchase a vehicle. It makes sense to do so, but it is very expensive. Pray that God will make it abundantly clear what we should do.

7. Praise God that Aaron has had no more migraines. We are both exercising and feel so much better as a result!

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6 Months

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I ended my last post with Matthew 10:28, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” This verse was brought to my attention through the book Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow by Nancy Guthrie. It’s an amazing book, and God has used it and the Bible study Annointed,Transformed, Redeemed to speak to me over the past couple of weeks.

Let me share a few more verses that have been challenging me:

John 6:66-69 — From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Luke 7:23 — “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” (Jesus spoke these words to men that John the Baptist sent to Jesus to ask him if he was indeed the Christ. John couldn’t go and ask Jesus because he was in prison. Jesus told the messengers to tell John that Jesus was healing people and spreading the good news to the poor.)

While these verses may seem random and completely unrelated to each other or the fact that today marks 6 months since Hannah left this world and entered into eternity in heaven, let me attempt to explain why they’re so meaningful, challenging and/or comforting to me at this time.

Six months is a big milestone.

By this time, we have established a new normal. We are able to carry on day-to-day life with a regularity and stability that comes from God’s great grace. We have deeply mourned, and now we have progressed to deeply missing our princess. It’s another step out of the valley of despair that cancer and death threw us into. While we still have really hard moments, times when we sob and wrestle with God, we are not stuck in a pit of despair. Each day, every moment that we choose joy, we make another step up out of the valley.

My one and only Mother's day with Hannah

The past month has been rough. Too many reminders of Hannah: what she should be doing and learning, what she might look like at 20 months, how she would have impacted my school day, how she would be making new friends, how she would interact with (and maybe boss around) her brothers, etc. Too many reminders that life is fragile: my dad’s possible cancer, Aaron’s grandmother’s failing health, deaths at the hospital, reports of tragedies from around the world, etc. All these thoughts bring emotions that are deep and strong, and they often cause me to wrestle with God. Praise God, for He is faithful! For every question I ask, for every claim I make, for every tear I cry, He has a promise for me.

Matthew 10:28 reminds me that I must not fear man, or even Satan. No man or evil can take my life without God’s permission. It is God who has ordained my days. It is God who has written every day of my life in His book before one of them came to be. It is God who has entrusted me with this suffering. It is God who is sovereign and trustworthy, and He has promised to protect my soul until I am in heaven with Him.

John 6:66-69 is my heart’s cry. If Jesus were to look me face-to-face and ask me if I want to leave him, all I could say is, “LORD, to whom shall I go?” The reality is that I have only two choices: to bring Him honor OR to bring Him disgrace. Beth Moore, in her part of Annointed,Transformed, Redeemedsays, “David could either sit down in the dirt, throw a handful on his head, and refuse to get up or he could pour his heart out, bawl his eyes out, catch his God-given breath, and cling to Him for dear life…Sometimes we arrive at a place where we can either lose or gain ground, but returning to life as it was before is no longer an option.” Well said, Beth. Even when I don’t understand God, I must choose to gain ground. I refuse to loose it, because if any ground is lost then suffering is worthless. God has indeed ordained this and therefore has entrusted me to walk through this with His grace and humility. I intend to do my best to make Him proud.

Luke 7:18-23 is where it really gets ugly though. I found myself questioning God again: “Lord, why? Why didn’t you do something for me? How much more can I handle? Why are you forsaking me?” I’m comforted by the fact that Jesus Himself questioned God like this. In light of Jesus’ upcoming crucifixion, Jesus asked the Father to change plans. And God told His Son no. In Luke, we see John the Baptist sitting in jail while Jesus is out healing strangers. John was Jesus’ forerunner. He was special, and yet Jesus seemingly ignored him. Why?

I don’t have a good answer except to say that God’s plans are better. John was martyred and taken to heaven immediately while all those people who Jesus healed were left to live their lives on earth and await their future deaths. They had to wait longer for heaven. Jesus had to suffer intensely so that we all had access to heaven.

Sometimes we get angry or question God when we know He’s big enough and powerful enough to stop the bad stuff from happening. While that’s totally natural and perfectly human, it can NOT be the end to our faith. We must cry out to God…AND THEN, cling to Him as we obey Him. God’s plan is bigger and better and way more perfect than mine. Even when the choice is hard, I must choose to trust Him and believe in His promises.

So here is my choice: I choose to stand in awe of His attention to detail, of His tender and patient love for me, of the way He holds each of us and the entire universe in His hands at the same time. How can I feel so special when He loves billions of people equally? I choose to trust that His plan is bigger and better and that He’ll show me that all the pain was worth it in the end. I’d still take it all back if given the choice because I miss her so much and fail to see past my own emotions. But, since I can’t have her back on this side of heaven, I will work to make my sacrifice worthwhile as long as I have breath.

My favorite part of Nancy Guthrie’s book was the end of each chapter. She closes each chapter with a message from Jesus. Let me close with a portion of the one from chapter 2 which is entitled “Hear Jesus Saying, I, too, Have Heard God Tell Me No.”

I hear your prayers, asking for your path to be smooth and asking the Father to bless your plans with success. But I have to tell you, that is not how I am praying for you. I love you too much for that. I am praying that when your plans go awry and your efforts fail, your faith will not. I am asking the Father to give you the good gift you have asked him for — more of my Holy Spirit at work in the interior of your life and character.

I am praying that you will walk in the truth and complete the work that has been entrusted to you — not so you can revel in the glory, but so you can experience the joy of giving the glory back to me. I am praying that the truth of my Word will teach you and refine you, even though that refining may be painful, because I know your greatest happiness will come as you become holy as I am holy.

The day is coming when you will see and share in the glory I have shared with my Father since before Creation. I’m praying that God will purify you and protect you until that coming day.

Praise and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God that the boys are doing so well. They are able to talk about Hannah, her life and homegoing with a maturity that is beyond their years.

2. Praise God that the co-op is going well. The missionary teacher arrives on Tuesday, so things should get even better once she takes over. Please pray for her as she says good-byes and travels to Kenya.

3. Praise God that Levi love preschool!

First day of Preschool

4. Praise God that my extra househelper is great. She’s still learning how to manage Levi in my absence (I still haven’t figured out how to handle him!), but she is doing a fine job at keeping him safe.

5. Please pray for my dad. He must go for a biopsy on a possible cancer on his vocal cord.

6. Please pray for Aaron’s family as they anticipate the passing of Grammy Walker, Aaron’s mom’s mother.

7. Please pray for us as we attempt to plan for our future here at Tenwek.

8. Please pray for each other, that we will pray in accordance to God’s perfect plan for our lives.

Princess Hannah and her bikeDaddy's little princess

Homeschool Co-op!

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A big THANK YOU for all who prayed me and the many others involved in Tenwek’s homeschool co-op. Monday was a great success, and today was even better. Here’s a little summary of the first two days of school here on the compound.

First things first…I may be biased, but I think I have the cutest, sweetest kindergartener!

Jacob the Kindergartener

He had to be awoken Monday morning by me whispering, “Jacob, wake up. It’s your first day of kindergarten!” Still groggy, he was questioning my announcement, but by the time he was getting dressed he was excitedly telling his brother, “Noah, do you know it’s my first day of kindergarten!?!?” He couldn’t wait to spend 2 glorious hours with Aunt Theresa and his 2 best friends (other than his brothers), Walter and Cooper.

When those 2 hours were over, Aunt Erin held a story time for all the preschoolers through 2nd graders. He was bouncing his way back home after the read-aloud time. He was just so excited for his school! However, by 10:30am today (an hour and a half into school), he was declaring to Aunt Theresa that kindergarten was taking much longer today than yesterday!  He’s just too stinkin’ cute!

Me and my JacobooMy 3 Superheros

Noah and Levi love walking Jacob to school, and Levi wants to stay. He’ll be so excited when another auntie arrives and starts a preschool class twice a week!

I’m sure you all are wondering how this whole co-op thing works. It’s actually quite complicated. We spent hours (yes, literally hours) just on the logistics of who would teach what subject to what age group at what time in which location. Choosing the right curriculum seemed relatively easy after all the logistics were settled!

There’s a little rundown of our day now that school has started:

8am — Eat breakfast

8:30 — Start Noah’s school with Bible, Spelling and Handwriting

9am — Walk Jacob to school

9:15 — Noah does independent work and ‘book basket’ time while I teach the 6th and 7th graders pre-Algebra

10:15 — I get home to give Levi and Noah a snack and to do history and reading with Noah

11am — Story time with Aunt Erin (all 3 boys go and I watch Erin’s littlest son)

11:30 — I teach 2nd grade math to Noah and two other kiddos. Jacob and Levi play with friends.

12:15 — It depends on the day. On Mondays, Noah does science. On Tuesdays, Noah and Jacob do art. On Wednesdays, it’s science again. Thursday and Friday are free days. Until the full-time teacher gets here, I am sharing the science teaching responsibilities. I can’t wait until September 23!

1pm — Lunch time!!

2:15 — On Tuesdays, Noah and Jacob will have gym. Levi usually naps.

3pm — It’s recess with friends. There is a great new swing down at the riverside apartments!

recess

In a couple of weeks, Levi should begin preschool for 2 hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which will be so nice. He’s quite lost when all the kids are in school all morning, and that’s why I’ve hired a helper to watch Levi on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Although it’s kind of crazy in the mornings, I am blessed to be a part of this community and this co-op. I believe that all the kids are benefitting from the collective skills, talents and gifts of all us mom-teachers. I never thought I’d be able to give up the responsibility and control over my kids’ education, but I am delighted that so many godly people get to pour into my children’s lives. Thank you to all of you who prayed that I would humbly submit to God’s plan for me here. I appreciate your part in the Holy Spirit’s convicting of my heart!

Praise and Prayer Requests:

1.) Praise God that the logistics of the co-op worked out! He is always faithful in guiding us through the planning and organizing of our kids and teachers and time and places, etc.

2.) Praise God that a teacher is coming! Lisette Lewis will arrive mid-September, and her primary purpose is to teach. I’m sure she’d appreciate your prayers as she packs and prepares to come and then as she settles into life here at Tenwek.

3.) Praise God for the Davis family, who will arrive at Tenwek on Friday. They have two children, and Katie will be teaching the preschool class. Please join us in praying them through the travels, shopping, unpacking and settling into life as a missionary family.

4.) Praise God for a good school day with Noah! He actually cooperated the entire morning and therefore got all his work done on time.

5.) Praise God that I have James memorized! Aaron quizzed me on Sunday and I messed up the last paragraph, so I was granted an extra day. I passed my test last night!! 🙂

6.) Please continue to pray for our hearts. The closer we get to the 6 month mark, the more difficult days we are having.

I’ll close with a verse mentioned in a book I’m reading. I hope to blog about what I’m learning, but for now here is the verse that’s challenging me.

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill you. They can only kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28