The First 14th…

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As many of you saw from Aaron’s blog, we went on a kid-free vacation to celebrate Valentine’s Day, my birthday and a very belated 10-year wedding anniversary. It was a short but restful and wonderful experience. It was the first 14th that was more sweet than bitter, the first one when no tears were shed. Maybe that was because I prepared myself ahead of time and shed those tears on the 12th as I wrote my last blog post. But maybe is was because we are moving on and enjoying life more and more.

It’s hard to say that. It’s so, so hard to come to terms with the fact that life moves on, that life is good without our princess, that the 14th doesn’t mean tears. At the same time, though, it’s so freeing to say it. It’s a burden that is lifting as each month goes by and God continues to love us lavishly. Let me tell my version of the week celebrating…me!

It all started Tuesday night at a “newbie” fellowship group. The ladies who are serving their first (or second) term get together with a seasoned missionary to read and discuss Your Beautiful Purpose by Susie Larson. (It’s the book I referenced in my last post.) This a great time of fellowship and sharing how God is working in our lives and what He is teaching us in the midst of this new life. The host provided delicious scones for me and another missionary who celebrated her birthday on the 13th of February.

Then, at our ladies Bible study/prayer time we celebrated again. This time it was Wednesday afternoon, and I shared the celebration with yet another missionary who has a February birthday. The hostess made my favorite birthday cake: red velvet! My mentor blessed me with a gift. All the ladies enjoyed sweet fellowship and laughter.

Then, that night at home, we had guests for dinner, so I made myself a chocolate cake with mint icing. There was no singing, but the boys gave me the gifts they purchased for me. I kind of miss their typical CVS gifts. One year I received a “Your a nice boy” card from Jacob, and I always received lots of candy and interesting girly things. This year, they went to a local duka and picked out really nice gifts.

Love this boy more and more every day!

Love this boy more and more every day!

Love my sweet boy. :)

Love my sweet boy. 🙂

Can't help but love this kid!

Can’t help but love this kid!

Thursday morning was busy with packing and finishing up school with Noah. When it was time to teach my math students at 9:00, they were a little too eager for their test. As soon as I opened the MK school room door, I knew why. They had decorated the room with balloons and streamers. On one desk, they set a place for me to sit with cake (red velvet and peanut butter icing!), ice cream and Kool-Aid. They sang to me and blew noise makers, and they gave me chocolate and cards. I have the best students in the world!!

We left for Ngerende at 11 a.m. and arrived there in time for a late lunch. The attention and service we received there was amazing. After lunch, we went on a game drive.

God always keeps His promises...and almost always provides gorgeous sunsets on the mara.

God always keeps His promises…and almost always provides gorgeous sunsets on the mara.

Friday, my actual birthday, was very relaxing. We went on the morning game drive, enjoyed the pool, were pampered with massages and (of course) ate really great food! My students sent more cards and a gift with Aaron so that I had something to open on my birthday. One of my students made wooden candlesticks! (BEST students ever!!)

It's quite chilly in the mornings on the mara!

It’s quite chilly in the mornings on the mara!

These two brothers hunt together.

These two brothers hunt together.

This male lion is a bit tired.

This male lion is a bit tired.

Saturday morning started with our last game drive of the vacation. All three of our drives focused on finding two things: a male lion and a leopard. We quickly found a young male lion, which was awesome! However, the elusive leopard could not be found. People found him the day before we arrived, and friends of ours saw him after we left. For whatever reason, the leopard eluded us the entire time. We did find this amazing pride of lions! This was perhaps the coolest thing we’ve seen on a game drive!

This pride of lions was amazing to watch.

This pride of lions was amazing to watch.

After the game drive, we were served a huge breakfast…and then, a personalized cake! A group of Masai men and women and the Ngerende staff sang to us, one of them gave a speech (a true Kenyan celebration), and we cut and ate the cake. What a way to be set home, huh?

The ceremonial cutting of the cake with the chef.

The ceremonial cutting of the cake with the chef.

On our drive home, I was wondering why God provided so many lions but not one leopard. (I realize that seeing a leopard isn’t a life changing event, but I really wanted – and even prayed – to see a leopard!) God spoke to me. He is so tender and so much in the details of our lives! He told me that He welcomes us to pray about everything, but He requires that we trust HIM with the answer. On some issues, He answers quickly and more abundantly than we expect. In this instance, I asked for only one male lion. Instead, He gave us two young but maturing male lions and an entire pride of female and young male lions. On other issues, however, He is silent or He says ‘no’ or He says ‘wait.’ I’m not sure what our answer was on the leopard issue. I’m guessing we’ll eventually see one here since we live two hours from the mara! But God used this opportunity to remind me to trust in His answer and timing in other, bigger issues. Aaron and I have been praying and trusting God for some pretty big things. Sometimes, as we wait, we get discouraged and/or question God’s promises. Did He really speak those things to us? Maybe we misinterpreted Him. 

Through it all, we trust. God is faithful to keep the promises He made. We, as humble and obedient children, must do our part while we wait for those promises to come true. Rest assured, if you have been praying for something for a long time, God is hearing you. Maybe you, or the other people involved, just aren’t quite ready for the answer. Maybe the timing isn’t right. God sees the BIG picture. Trust Him with everything.

2 Samuel 7:18-29 records Davids prayer to God. I find great wisdom, humility and courage is his words.

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said:

“Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, SovereignLord, is for a mere human!

20 “What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.

22 “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.

25 “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.

27 “Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for emotional healing and continual comfort.

2. Please pray with us as we attempt to discern God’s direction for our lives. There are so many decisions in front of us, and we are questioning some things. Pray that God will give us clear discernment in these matters and that we’ll rest in His perfect plan and timing…even the timing of telling us His plan!

3. Please pray for us as we anticipate March 14, surely the hardest 14th of the year. Since this post took a week to write due to internet issues, my emotions are different than during my birthday weekend. I’m already feeling the weight of grief descend as we get closer and closer to the one-year anniversary of Hannah’s death.

4. Please pray for the Tenwek community. It seems like God has some BIG plans for the hospital and the surrounding community. Pray for us, the Tenwek family, through all these decisions. May we have a unity that can only come from God. We are, indeed, all different parts of the body of Christ! (Romans 12:4-5)

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