Hannah would have turned 2 yesterday.
As I reflected on the day and all that it meant, I was taken back to January 22, 2012. I awoke early that morning with mild contractions about 15 minutes apart. Though I was filled with fear of the unknown and worry that my baby girl wasn’t developmentally ready for delivery (I was only 34 weeks), I did what any experienced mother would do: lay on my side drinking as much water as possible and prayed. Then, I asked for more prayer via facebook. The contractions did subside a little, but then at 3pm they became strong and only 2-3 minutes apart. I called for Aaron, who quickly got me to the hospital. Hannah was born at 4:11pm, 6 weeks before her due date. She was tiny but perfect.
Then, on her first birthday, I was a nervous wreck again, but for a very different reason. January 22, 2013 marked exactly one week until we flew to our new home in Kenya. This was the cause of great concern since two of the kids had never flown, none of us had ever been to Africa, and we really didn’t know anyone at Tenwek. Fortunately, we already had her birthday party, so the most eventful thing about her actual birthday was her one-year wellness appointment with the pediatrician. She surpassed all her milestones and had all her one-year immunizations, so she was ready to go. I, however, was over my head with packing and purging and saying good-byes. I still don’t know how I managed to get all 6 of us here safely!
Yesterday, on what would have been her second birthday, I found myself full of anxiety, and again it was for a very different reason. I have been dreading January 22, 2014. Christmas was hard, but yesterday was harder. Christmas is about Jesus, not Hannah. Christmas has come and gone without Hannah for many, many years. We enjoyed all of our Christmases without Hannah except one. Celebrating Christmas without her was heartbreaking, but it was actually better than I expected. Yesterday, however, was even worse than I anticipated. I think it’s because January 22, in my mind, is Hannah’s day. That date never held any significance for me until she was born.
Before we left the States to return to Tenwek after Hannah’s memorial services, we purchased pink princess balloons, princess tattoos and stickers and purposed to hold a celebration of her life. I’ve been pondering exactly what we should do for a long time. Our original plan involved releasing pink balloons, but helium is not easily found in Kenya. That part of the plan was replaced by lanterns. We hung the pink balloons, made pink cupcakes and let everyone have a tattoo or sticker, a glow stick and treats. Each family got a lantern to light and release. Although only some of the lanterns floated the way I predicted, it was a beautiful sight.
I so appreciate the way God has used our baby girl. While I miss her every day and I still wish none of this would have happened, I am honored to be chosen by God for this work. I am humbled by the way the body of Christ has rallied around us to help us carry this heavy load. I am amazed by the way God is in the details of my every day life. I am encouraged to choose joy amidst the pain and sorrow. I am determined to bring God all the praise, glory and honor that He deserves through whatever the day brings.
We were given a box of God’s promises, Scripture chosen by some of our supporters here at Tenwek. Let me share a couple of those promises with you.
But from everlasting to everlasting, the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and His righteousness with their children’s children. Psalm 103:17
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18
I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy…You will have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. John 16:20, 22
Praises and Prayer Requests:
- Praise God for seeing us through a very difficult day. He really is all-sufficient!
- Praise God for the body of Christ!
- Praise God for His big picture plan. His ways truly are higher and better and bigger than ours!
- Please keep my dad in your prayers. He is tired and his throat is still sore.
- Please pray for all of us here at Tenwek. I often forget that other people are grieving Hannah. The doctors who took care of Hannah, my house helper who helped with Hannah, the kids and moms who loved Hannah like a cousin/niece, our church here at Tenwek, etc.
- Please also pray for each other. Our family and friends back in the States often feel helpless. Pray that God would comfort them as well.