Monthly Archives: January 2015

January Blessings

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January has been a busy and blessed month!

I’ve decided to make this year about blessings. My overriding goal of the year is to bring glory and honor to God by giving Him thanks as often as possible. I’ll be using my blog to highlight ways I see God working for our good. January was a good start to the New Year, so it has been easy to brag on God.

It all began January 1 as I brought in the New Year with Joshua. Everyone else in the Kelley clan had fallen asleep, but Joshua was eating. We heard some shouts of celebration off in the distance while we quietly enjoyed the beginning of 2015.

Then, our firstborn, Noah, turned 9 years old on the 18th! (Am I really old enough to have a 9 year old??) He decided to throw a Spy/Nerf themed party. We held it the day before his birthday, and 4 boys came to celebrate with him. They ate cake and ice cream and drank Kool-Aid.

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After consuming a ridiculous amount of sugar, we sent them through a laser maze to claim their weapons for a Nerf war.

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I’m not sure which team won the battle, but they came inside for presents and goodie bags. Noah got a lot of Legos and games this year, which came in handy for the following day.

Noah’s birthday was on a Sunday this year, so we began the day bright and early. He awoke to balloons and gifts at his seat at the dining table. After he opened more games and Legos, we ate his favorite breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, toast and bacon, and we drank white grape juice. (I realize white grape juice isn’t a huge deal in the States, but we are so excited that our favorite juice brand started making grape juice! Noah requested that we save some for his birthday breakfast.) After church, Noah spent most of the day building his new Lego sets and challenging people to a game of Sorry, Pictureka or Labyrinth. He loved all the food for the day because he planned it all. I made fried crabsticks, French fries, coleslaw, and Red Lobster biscuits for lunch. Then, for supper, we ate soup and subs in an attempt to feel like we were at Subway. Although all this was wonderful, Noah’s favorite part of the day was watching Thor with his daddy.

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Another exciting event: Joshua became an American citizen this month! We had visited the U.S. Embassy back in December, and this month we received notice that his documents were complete and ready for pick up. I trekked to Nairobi alone (yes! I left Joshua home with Aaron!) on January 20. I left at 6:30 a.m., shopped from 10:30 until 12:30, and then headed over to the Embassy at 1p.m. After a little waiting and a lot of questions, I had Joshua’s U.S. passport and U.S. birth certificate. It’s a relief to know that he can join us for our furlough in June!

Daddy and the boys managed quite well without me. Joshua is such a good baby. He takes a bottle like a champ and is very easy going. Levi helped Aaron take care of Joshua while Noah and Jacob went to school. The Roberts had us over for supper, which was a huge blessing to me even though the purpose of the night was to celebrate Noah’s birthday. The Roberts boys couldn’t attend Noah’s party, so they threw one of their own. It was complete with a laser maze, a feast of yummy food, cake and ice cream, and sparklers!

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A few days later, on January 22, we celebrated Hannah’s 3rd birthday. The day began and ended as usual, but we took time at 5:30 to have a community celebration of our baby girl.

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Joshua turned 3 months old on the 25th. He is such a happy, easy-going baby. He is sleeping through the night, becoming quite the chatter box, and bringing much joy to our family.

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And yesterday, January 29, marked our 2-year anniversary of missions! We first boarded a plane to move to Kenya on January 29, 2013. Had we known what God had for us here, I’m not sure it would have been quite as easy. (It didn’t seem easy at the time, but the first flight here was much easier than the second!) Through the valley of grief and in everyday life, God proves Himself faithful and trustworthy. We are so happy that we said, “Yes!” to God when He called us here, and we pray that He will bring us back here after our furlough.

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“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” Deuteronomy 7:9

Praises and Prayer Requests:
1. Praise God for wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ! God uses His children to minister to us in so many beautiful ways.
2. Praise God for answers to prayer. We have been praying about our upcoming furlough, for we have so many decisions and plans to make. God is beginning to close and open doors for us. Please pray that we hear God clearly and correctly so that we are in the center of His will.
3. Praise God for our boys! Please pray for us as we parent them. Pray for wisdom in both the big and little things.

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Answers

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God answers the cries of our hearts.

Since my last post, I’ve gotten a lot of comments and messages from readers. They are a huge blessing. Thank you. But they have been outdone! This morning God answered the cries of my heart, and He used my devotional. I’ve been reading John Piper’s Solid Joys on my iPad for several months now, and God has used it to speak to me many times. Today, it was too good to keep to myself, so here is my version of his words:

Focus on God.

Yes, it’s that simple. Instead of worrying about all the what-ifs and whys, just focus on God. Meditate on who HE is. Read His promises. Bask in His beauty. Realize His power and might and wisdom. When we get a better and more accurate picture of who He is, our fears seem silly. HE IS GOD!

Here is the Scripture that Piper used to remind me of this important choice that I need to make daily: Hebrews 12:3, Romans 8:5-6, Colossians 3:2, Luke 12:24,27.

Maybe it’s because I’m sleep-deprived. Maybe I haven’t been spending enough time with God. Maybe it’s because I’m human and I need constant reminders. Maybe it’s all of the above and more. Regardless, I needed to hear this again: focus your attention on God.

Does God speak to you? I sure hope you can answer with a resounding “YES!” I’m so glad he speaks to me!

I’m taking a little break from memorizing Scripture in order to study Matthew, but I plan to tackle 2 Peter this year. In anticipation of that goal, here is how 2 Peter begins: Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord (2 Peter 1:1-2). I echo his words to you. I so cherish your time, attention, prayers, and support. As you focus on Him, may He fill you with grace and peace until overflowing.

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God, for He answers our prayers! He is so tender in His love. Praise Him!

2. Praise God for Bible Quizzing. About 250 kids will be studying Matthew and memorizing 45-60 verses over the next 3 months. Pray that their dedication to this work will please God and that it will reap a harvest for His kingdom. Pray also for those in charge of all the details. It’s a lot of work!

3. Praise God for worship music! I’ve been listening to John Waller a lot lately. Today’s favorite was “My God Reigns Here,” because my God reigns right here in my home, in my heart. It was encouraging to sing it in such a beautiful way.

4. Praise God for healthy boys! Thank you for your prayers for health. I think we’re all healthy. I’ll close with a picture…because I can’t help but be a proud momma. 😉

My oldest and youngest having a cute bonding moment. :) All 3 big boys are so good with Joshua.

My oldest and youngest having a cute bonding moment. 🙂 All 3 big boys are so good with Joshua.

What are you doing?

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What are you doing, God?

Have you ever asked that question? I know I have. I’ve been asking it for both small and big things all my Christian life, and I’m sure I’m not alone. For example, why does God allow children to be forced into prostitution? What good can come out of that? Why doesn’t He protect them from such evil? The list of big issue questions is endless.

But you don’t have to save the “What are you doing, God?” for big issues. I’m sure you all have asked God what He’s doing or where He is during the day-to-day tough stuff. Recently, I’ve been tempted to question God about my life. I’ve been sick for over 4 weeks since Joshua’s birth, and he’s only 11 weeks old! Why would God allow 3 different illnesses attack our family in such a short time, especially with an infant in the house? Doesn’t He know that we don’t have access to a PICU? Couldn’t He just block all viruses from entering our family? Do you care, God??

Of course, God does care. He loves Joshua (and all of us) more than I can imagine, much more than I love him (and all of us). God is capable of stopping viruses in their tracks. God knows our place of residence, our lack of American-standard medical care, etc. He also knows my areas of weakness. He knows what causes fear in my heart, pride in my life, and the desire to be independent. And maybe that’s why He allows illnesses in times like these.

God searches my heart and sees that I fear losing another child more than I fear His wrath. He recognizes that I struggle to trust Him ever since Hannah’s death. He can tell that I take more pride in my accomplishments than in His, that I am tempted to think that the world can’t go on without my contributions, and that I’d much rather do things my way. He knows I need to slow down and spend more time in prayer. More than anything, He knows that I need practice trusting Him with EVERYTHING.

Yes, everything. That includes Joshua’s health, the timing of illnesses, the dates of both births and deaths, when I succeed and when I fail, etc. God can be trusted to work everything for good for those who love Him, and I sure do love Him! I need to rest in that promises.

No, I may not like how things work out for my good. I may not get to see the good while I’m on this side of heaven. Those things aren’t parts of the promise.

I like the New Life Version of Romans 8:28: We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are chosen to be a part of His plan.

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for Joshua’s health! I know that he’ll get sick from time to time. I’m thankful for the times he is healthy and happy. He is growing so quickly. In fact, it’s time to put away the 0-3 month clothing and get out the 3-6 month clothing!

Look at that belly!

Look at that belly!

2. Praise God for His sovereignty. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, He is in control. He is Abba Father, the Great Physician, our Provider, and so much more.

3. Praise God for Noah! He will turn 9 on Sunday!

4. Please pray for us as we celebrate Hannah’s 3rd birthday on January 22. May all the glory go to God that day no matter what emotions it brings.

 

A Kenyan Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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It has been another 4 weeks since I’ve posted. Yikes! I guess I’ve been a little busy. Here’s an update showing some of the things that have kept me from my computer.

We kept busy with school from December 11 through 17. Then, on the 18th (on my first nephew’s 9th birthday! Happy Birthday Alex!!) we built gingerbread houses. This is a big event here at Tenwek, but I forgot my camera. We gather in groups on several porches to cover gingerbread houses with as much icing and candy as possible. The boys each decorated a mini house this year.

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Part of our Advent calendar was to write notes to Hannah. Each of the boys drew a picture and wrote a short note. Then, we put them in her stocking. (I made each of us new stockings this year. I used Masai blankets to make them fit with the rest of our decor.)

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On December 21, we left Tenwek and made the long trek to Nairobi. We took the boys to a movie and ate a Subway. Then, on the 22nd, we had an appointment with the U.S. Embassy. With our four boys and an armload of paperwork, we waited to submit all the necessary forms to get Joshua a social security number, a passport and a document that will serve as an American birth certificate. (He has a Kenyan one already.) This is the photo we used for his passport. Isn’t he cute?

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Then, after that stressful process was over, we headed to the mall to shop for 3 cartloads of groceries. Aaron and I both were suffering from head colds, the boys hate shopping (especially when it takes hours), and Joshua needs to nurse every 3 hours. The next day we had another two-hour appointment. This time it was eye appointments for Aaron and me. Afterward, we sat in traffic for an hour, shopped for our cold groceries, and drove 4 hours in the rain to get home. The next day was Christmas Eve, so I medicated with Tylenol just so I could get everything put away from the shopping trip and the last minute things done for our Christmas day celebrations.

On Christmas Eve, we attended our church’s candle light service. Levi couldn’t contain his excitement about ‘holding fire!’ He just beamed from ear to ear the entire time.

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When we came home, the boys opened their Christmas Eve gifts from Grammy and Pappy Snyder: new footie pajamas! (Joshua got some too. He was sleeping for the picture though.)

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Of course, the biggest event of the last 4 weeks has been Christmas! We always start Christmas morning with Aaron reading the Christmas story from the Bible to the kids. Then, we open presents and have Jesus’ birthday cake for breakfast. Here is my humble attempt at this year’s cake.

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The bottom layer is chocolate. The brown represents our sin. The red layer is Jesus’ blood that paid for our sins. The green layer symbolizes our new life in Christ when we receive salvation. The white icing represents our purity, and the yellow reminds us of heaven. We discuss each part of the cake, sing to Jesus, and enjoy the sugar rush!

We were super blessed with many presents from supporters and family members this year. And if the postal system ever catches up with the influx of December mail, we’ll probably receive more!

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Our church sent each of us a clothing item, a fun toy, and a favorite food. Noah got canned crab (which he’s never eaten, but fresh crab doesn’t travel well), a Hex shark, and a long-sleeved t-shirt. We made warm crab dip Christmas afternoon, and it was so, so yummy! Jacob received Lucky Charms, binoculars, and shorts (that he’s worn many, many times since Christmas). Levi’s gifts were a hooded sweatshirt (shown in the snow picture), Playdoh toys, and Blowpops. Joshua got some sleepers, baby cereal and snacks, and stacking blocks. Aaron’s gifts were super exciting: socks and tuna! I received flip flops (lots of them!) and Martin’s pretzels (we ate an entire bag on Christmas day!).

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Christmas afternoon was super fun! One of our neighbors received ‘chemical snow’ for Christmas, so all the kids enjoyed a little bit of a white Christmas! They slid down this hill for a long time, even after the snow was gone. Then, I washed really, really dirty clothes!!

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We finished Christmas day with a feast! Turkey with all the fixings filled our tummies and brought our very blessed day to a close.

Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I was super busy running the house without Joyce. I gave her two weeks off to spend with her family. That left me to wash clothes, clean the house, cook, and wash dishes without her helping hands. It was crazy. The boys were put to work. We survived. Just don’t look at my bathtub!

The boys have been passing around the stomach bug, so we stayed home from church today. Our home church involved watching a movie about William Tyndale, reading Bible stories, and laughing at Tim Hawkins.

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Levi loves his brother SO much!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for His grace. After weeks of waking up with headaches and sore throats, I’m feeling exhausted, but His grace is sufficient. He continues to prove that to me over and over.

2. Praise God for providing a teacher for Tenwek’s MK school. She arrived yesterday. Please pray for her and all of us involved in the co-op as we begin the second semester of the school year.

3. Praise God for His protection. This stomach bug is the third virus we’ve had in our house since Joshua’s birth. Please pray that Joshua remains healthy.

I Peter 5:8-11 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”