Monthly Archives: March 2015

Re-entering the Valley

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We survived. March 14, 2015 came and went, and everyone is still ok. We endured the 2-year anniversary of Hannah’s homegoing.

It’s interesting how our emotions can be tied to dates. There are times when a wave of grief catches me off guard. It might be provoked by a comment or song or event. Or there could be no conceivable reason for the tears…except that I miss her. For the most part throughout the past year, though, we could anticipate the grief. We expect to miss Hannah more during the holidays and her birthday and of course the anniversary of her death. As soon as I switched my wall calendar from February to March, I felt the heaviness of grief fall upon me. In fact, as the days trekked on and February was ending, I began to brace myself. I knew it was coming: the re-entry.

Two years ago, Hannah’s sudden death took us into the deepest valley we’ve ever experienced. There were times when I thought we’d never get ourselves out of that valley. Well, to be honest, we didn’t save ourselves from that pit of despair. It was God who did all the work. We just took one step at a time, following and trusting our Abba Father to lead us through the valley of the shadow of death. Eventually, we could see sunlight as we meandered our way up the hillside. Now, most days are spent on the high ground where we are able to enjoy the sun shining on our faces. It’s those special dates that tend to take us back to the darkness of the valley.

In my anticipation of March 14, I chose to embrace the heaviness. I purposed to set aside time each day to welcome the sadness, to remember the oh-so-difficult events of March 13-14, 2013, and to cry out to God. Yes, grief is hard. It isn’t fun. Not. One. Bit. However, it is healthy. Even necessary. And so, I willingly re-entered the valley of the shadow of death once again. It began on March 1, 2015. I turned around from my usual sunshine and hid in the shadows…at least for a moment every day for those two weeks. I’m not sure when it will end. Maybe it has already.

I think Friday the 13th was my low point during those two weeks. Maybe I held too much in that week. Maybe my short moments of lament weren’t enough. I certainly was busy Monday through Thursday. Snow day, Bible quizzing stuff, retreat planning meetings, prayer times with friends, Bible study, etc. kept me away from home most evenings. By the time I got myself in bed each night, I was too tired to process. I would shed a few quiet tears and pass out until the morning. So, as soon as I was able to get the boys fed and occupied, I hid in my bedroom to weep before God. I questioned His purpose for Hannah’s short life. I asked all the “How long, O Lord?” questions again. I allowed myself to feel the loss as deep as did the day we ushered her into heaven two years ago.

Then, when I awoke on March 14, I didn’t have to do it. I had already grieved as heavily as I needed. I was able to think about the precious time I had with Hannah and praise God for that time. Aaron and I walked to the river to throw Noah’s rock into the water, and we were able to endure the audience that gathered to see the white people. We could talk to the strangers without tears or contempt. Ultimately, we could walk through the valley with eyes wide open and with joy.

Yes, it’s still hard. We didn’t enjoy the return to the valley, but we did it. And now, we can face the sunshine again. Thank you for your prayers. They traveled across the ocean and comforted us in our time of grief. May God bless you for your time, dedication, and love for us!!

Several of our friends gave us pink roses. We are so blessed to be loved by so many!

Several of our friends gave us pink roses. We are so blessed to be loved by so many!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

  1. Praise God for His ever-presence in our lives.
  2. Praise God for a little more rain this week.
  3. Praise God for Easter.
  4. Pray for more rain!

    A VERY low water level. Let's pray that it's a roaring waterfall by this time next month!

    A VERY low water level. Let’s pray that it’s a roaring waterfall by this time next month!

  5. Pray for us as we celebrate Easter. Easter tends to be very emotional for me. I can’t get past the fact that God chose to send His only Son to earth to die for my sins. God had to watch His Son die a brutal death. Now, after watching Hannah die, I can feel a bit of what God felt, and I can’t get used to it. Not that I want to grow accustom to this feeling. It’s just hard to attend Easter services and celebrate with the boys when my heart is hurting so badly. Pray that God would give me wisdom for how to handle the raw emotions that Easter brings.

 

 

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February Blessings

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As I said in my January Blessings post, I want to be intentional about noticing God’s handiwork and then responding to it with praise. Here are a few of the ways God worked all things together for our good in February.

Of course, the most exciting event was Friday the 13th/100 Day/Valentine’s Day. I know I already shared about this, but here a group picture. We have a lot of missionary kids! Pray for the families serving here at Tenwek. Pray for unity. Pray against opposition from the enemy. Pray for these precious, crazy kids. 

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Joshua turned 4 months old! He is such a happy baby even though he isn’t the best napper. He has been cooing, giggling, and moving quite a bit. It often looks like he’s trying to fly! He loves his brothers, and they love him. The best part: he continues to sleep through the night! Praise God!! 

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morning cuddles

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He is growing up WAY too quickly!

 

We held a successful community yard sale. All the missionaries pooled their no-longer-wanted items together and sold them to the nationals and each other. Noah and Levi each found a new Nerf (or Nerf-like) gun. Noah also bought several novels, duct tape, a boogie board, and several other trinkets. Jacob came late but did find Candyland. Levi tried to buy some of the stuff we were selling, but I intercepted his plans. Yes, I’m that mean…

Noah reading to Levi! I'm so proud of the young man Noah is becoming!!

Noah reading to Levi! I’m so proud of the young man Noah is becoming!!

All of the money went to the Tenwek Needy People Fund. This fund helps patients pay for their large medical bills. If you are interested in donating to the Needy People Fund, follow the link. Your money can go a long way! Please pray for the many, many patients that are seen at Tenwek every day. Pray also for the nurses, doctors, etc. who make the hospital run. Pray that God would be glorified through the hard work of the many people working here.

I’m sure many of you read Aaron’s blog post about the mock mass casualty incident. If you haven’t, check it out. It was a success as far as showing the hospital staff how much forethought must be taken in order to be prepared for these kinds of disasters. Pray that Aaron and his committee can process and analyze the data they collected from the drill, make changes in their plans, and then instruct the medical staff effectively.

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God did provide a little rain in February. It was enough to fill our previously almost empty rain tank. We are still praying for a good rainy season so that our hydro-electric power supply can be up and running again. Pray for rain. Pray for a successful growing season. 

Joyce, my househelper, has one daughter named Doreen. Doreen finished eighth grade in December, took her exams, and anxiously awaited letters of acceptance into high school. (The school system is very different here. Most kids can go to school for free until 8th grade. Then, they have to be invited into high school based on their exam scores. Most high schools are boarding schools. All high schools cost money. It’s a stressful time for both parents and students!) Praise God! She received several letters despite worrisome exam scores. Doreen and Joyce chose a school, and Doreen began form 1 (9th grade) in February. Praise God for His provision! Pray that Doreen would adjust well to this new normal and that she will excel in school. 

Additional Prayer Requests:

1. Pray for Aaron and I as we continue the application process to become long-term missionaries.

2. Pray for all of us as we approach March 14, the 2-year anniversary of Hannah’s death.

3. Pray for the global church, that we would be effective witnesses of Christ!

Matthew 12:34b-35

For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.

May we bring forth GOOD! Thank you, friends, for uplifting us and these prayer items. We are so, so grateful!

 

 

 

 

Thirty-What?

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Valentine’s Day was my birthday. And apparently, I’m starting to look older than I really am. For the first time in my life, people were guessing that I’m 35 or 38 or thirty-something-older-than-reality! I know that I’ve aged a lot over the past two years, but wow! Maybe I need to invest in a few more age-fighting creams!!

Aside from the age insults, my birthday was really nice. It started the Thursday night before my birthday. The ladies from Bible study surprised me and a friend whose birthday is February 13th with an ice cream sundae party complete with homemade cones. (Yes, here in rural Kenya, you can’t buy luxuries like ice cream cones, so we make them! And they are SO much better than any ice cream cone I’ve eaten in the U.S.) In addition to the ice cream, I got dark chocolate, a candle holder, and these beautiful flowers. My friends are pretty great!

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Friday the 13th happened to be the 100th day of school, so we not only celebrated Valentine’s Day but also 100 day. Jacob took 100 (stale) mini marshmallows to school. All the students ate “100” snacks at chai time.

Smarties and two homemade doughnuts (yes, we have to make our own doughnuts too)

Jacob’s teacher made “100” with Smarties and two homemade doughnuts (yes, we have to make our own doughnuts too)

Then, Saturday, my actual birthday, we had a family day. Aaron made pancake muffins for breakfast.  Since we lost power (again) right after breakfast, we just ate leftovers for lunch.

 

In the afternoon, we ventured up to the dukas so that the boys could buy me birthday presents. Joshua and I sat on a bench and chatted with a store owner while the boys shopped with Aaron.

They went BEHIND the counter!!

They went BEHIND the counter!!

As soon as we got home, Noah and Jacob hid in the school room to wrap my presents.

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I was quite impressed with their wrapping skills. Levi was satisfied with the black plastic bag, so he didn’t join the older two. When I open the black bag, I discovered a box of mango juice and 4 pieces of toffee candy. He was so excited and proud of himself.

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Jacob was up next. He chose a green ‘pearl’ necklace and wafer treats.

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Noah wrapped three packages of Oreos, a “love” necklace, and a bottle of Krest. Since his love language is the same as mine (gifts), he wrapped each thing individually. He understands how exciting it is to open presents!

 

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The store owner gave the boys a pair of red earrings to add to my birthday gifts. (That’s how generous and kind Kenyans are.) So here is my stash:

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Joshua decided that he didn’t like his crib, so he just napped on my chest most of the afternoon. While we were napping, Noah and Aaron baked my birthday cake. Levi insisted on putting this green flower on it. (It was leftover from his birthday in July.) We didn’t have enough candles, so we used the numbers from Levi’s last two birthdays. Now, I guess everyone knows my real age. 🙂

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Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for Internet today! We have had many days this month without power. No electricity means no internet. It has been frustrating, but it makes us appreciate when it’s working!

2. Pray for rain. The river is low, the ground is dry, and it is hot. As soon as there is enough rain to rise the river level, the turbines can be turned back on. Then, our electricity (and internet) will be much more consistent.

3. Praise God for His unending love. I’ll write a “February Blessings” post as soon as I can. It has been a great month despite the dry season and all the consequences of that dryness. This post highlighted several blessings, but there are more!

Psalm 146

Praise the Lord.[a]

Praise the Lord, my soul.

I will praise the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
    and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
    the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
    and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
    but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The Lord reigns forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.