Monthly Archives: May 2015

Never at Home

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Never at Home

I’m not one to repost a lot of quotes, pictures, blogs, etc. on Facebook. However, once in a while, I come across something that speaks too strongly to my heart to ignore. Many of you saw the quote I posted recently. If not, here it is:

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” (shared from Third Culture Kids community)

Me and my littlest third culture cutie. :)

Me and my littlest third culture cutie. ūüôā

This quote may not be super profound, but it is timely. As I pack up box after box and as my apartment becomes emptier each day, the reality of these words sets in more deeply. The packing becomes more than a physical chore; it is now an emotional endeavor to finish well, to find joy in the good-byes, and to be content no matter where God takes us.

For whatever multitude of reasons, God has called the Kelley family to be a missionary family. In an effort to be obedient children of God, we follow wherever God leads. Two and a half years ago, God told Aaron and I to go to Africa, to Tenwek Hospital in rural Kenya to be exact. We did it. Joyfully. We sold and gave away the majority of our possessions, and we moved our family of 6 from our happy life in Pennsylvania to a life unknown in a place unseen. So much has happened since that first plane trip across the ocean. We said “good bye” to one member of our family and welcomed a new member into our family. So many lessons learned, so my friendships made, so many changes experienced. After a very full 2 1/2 years, we are different people. And that’s part of the emotional roller coaster I’m on.

I am a different person. The events of my life at Tenwek have shaped me into a new person, for God uses all things to mold us into the person He wants us to be. That’s exciting and encouraging because I want to grow in righteousness and to mature in my Christian walk. I see evidence of this growing and maturing process as I reflect on the past 2 1/2 years of my life. However, that means I return to my friends and family (who have also changed in my absence!) a different person. My mind spins with curiosity.¬†Will my friends understand me? Will I understand them? Have we changed too much? Have we grown apart? Will I fit into the same circles of friends? Or should I just wear a sign that says “warning: weird missionary” on my forehead? Will I remember how to drive? How to get from point A to point B? Will I be able to figure out all the new technology? And what about my kids??¬†

With all those thoughts and worries racing through my mind, I must push those anxieties aside and focus on the job at hand. In the next week, I must finish the packing. Every single possession that we accumulated while here must be tossed, given to someone, or stored in a container. The old curtains have replaced my pretty ones. The pantry is looking rather bare. The boys are forced to purge, purge, purge! It’s a lot of work, and to be honest, I was quite grumpy about it for the entire month of April. Fortunately, Father God spoke gently to my heart earlier this month. After we spent a day in Nairobi buying gifts for friends and family, he convicted me of my bad attitude and blessed me with a better one. Now, instead of¬†resenting that I must do this packing and good-bye thing over and over, I’m trying to find joy in it.

No, it isn’t much fun to pack and purge every few years. No, it isn’t fun to say good-bye to those you love. BUT it’s a blessing to have two completely different homes, both filled with lots and lots of people who love me. We love the Tenwek community and the work God has called us to do here. They are showering us with love and support as we face our first furlough. In fact, we eat with a different family almost every day until we leave! We also love our American home. For the next year, I get to fill my time¬†with playdates, birthday parties, and holidays with the family. I can’t wait to see my boys play with their cousins again…and to¬†meet the newest ones! This year in the States will surely be just as full as our life has been here at Tenwek. It’s just different, and that’s ok.

Lots of third culture BOYS!

                 Lots of third culture BOYS!

As Aaron mentioned in his last blog, God has shut the door for us to return to the Lehigh Valley as we had hoped. We are trusting that He knows what’s best for us as we relocate once again. This time we will be moving to Lynchburg, Virginia. That means a new church, new friends, too many other news to mention. We are sad that daily life won’t happen in Pennsylvania. However, we are excited to see what God has for us in Lynchburg!

All this moving is a great, recurring reminder that our real home isn’t anywhere on this earth. We were made for something more, some place eternal. Heaven is where my heart belongs, and I can’t wait to finally be there! I hope you’re there with me!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for our heavenly home!

2. Praise God for the church! We are so blessed by the body of believers!

3. Praise God that Aaron is well. He has made it to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro and is on his way back down. We hope to see him soon!

4. Please pray for us as we anticipate a lot of travel, reverse culture shock, and just plain craziness in the coming months.

5. Please pray for MKs (missionary kids) everywhere. Satan seems to target them in efforts to thwart God’s work through missionaries all over the world. Just pray for God’s sovereign, protective hand to rest¬†heavily on these kids.

6. Pray for all 6 of the Kelley clan. We’ve been battling head colds for over a week now. It’s taken a toll on me as I’m playing single mom and on Aaron as he’s climbing the highest mountain in Africa! Please pray for healing.

I’ll close with the Great Commission, because I need to be reminded of it when things get tough. It’s found in Matthew 28:

8¬†Then Jesus came to them and said, ‚ÄúAll authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19¬†Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20¬†and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.‚ÄĚ

April Blessings

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Another month has come and gone. It was a FULL month. Easter, retreat, vacation, and much more. Here are the highlights‚Ķwith lots of pictures! (May is turning out to be just as full…hence the late April post!)

The first big moment of April: Joshua got his first taste of food! We started with rice cereal, which he loved, a little before 6 months because I needed something to hide his malaria medicine in! (We needed to take the medicine to go to the coast.)

Joshua LOVES food!

Joshua LOVES food!

Easter is a special time at Tenwek. Our celebrations began with a Saturday morning egg hunt. The boys had a great time.

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Then, on Easter Sunday, a sunrise service starts the morning. Due to kid sleep issues, we did not attend this year. We were up and ready for the church service at 10, but first we had to eat bunny pancakes and check out the Easter baskets. Daddy found each boy a dragon toy, and the oldest 3 received fun things to take on vacation.

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I found the boys some presentable Easter outfits, and we headed up the hill for church. Then, we changed into regular clothes to join another family for Easter lunch. Ham, chicken, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, rolls, and corn casserole filled our tummies to overflowing. When we couldn’t fit another bite of dessert into our bodies, we returned home to do our family Easter egg hunt.

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They love wearing their ‘fancy church clothes’ to church!

Right after Easter, we packed up what seemed like our entire house for a two-week getaway. The first part of this time away from Tenwek was the WGM Retreat. At the last minute, the venue was changed, so we ended up spending several nights in the mountains of Naivasha. It was a beautiful place.

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Despite the cool mountain air, the boys enjoyed pool time.

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Noah’s favorite part of the pool: the slide from the kiddie pool to the big pool.

We also enjoyed a Levi-lead safari, watching zebras wander on the golf course, and great fellowship with lots of other missionaries.

Levi was babysitting Joshua so that I could shower...He needed to take a selfie to show me how great he was doing!

Levi was babysitting Joshua so that I could shower…He needed to take a selfie to show me how great he was doing!

Only a day after the retreat was over, we flew to the coast for a week-long family vacation. It was amazing! Joshua is a complete beach bum. Levi, Jacob, and Noah were maniacs in the pool and the ocean. Aaron enjoyed snorkeling, and I loved not worrying about meal-planning, cooking, laundry, and teaching!

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Noah, Jacob, and Levi riding camels on the beach. Really? How much better can life get?

Noah and Jacob went out on a glass bottom boat with Aaron. They found Nemo!

Noah and Jacob went out on a glass bottom boat with Aaron. They found Nemo!

He loved the ocean, the sand, and the pool!

He loved the ocean, the sand, and the pool!

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This one couldn’t get enough of the sand and water, but he doesn’t appreciate that he’s at the Indian Ocean. ūüôā

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Jacob was fearless in the ocean this year. He spent a lot of time on (and falling off) this raft.

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Noah might have spent more time under the water than above the water!

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And we got a date night!! We went to a really yummy restaurant in a cave. Yes, a cave with the night sky as the roof. Amazing!

Shortly after returning to Tenwek,¬†Joshua turned¬†6 months old! He’s eating food, sitting, and acting like such a big boy. I love watching him initiate interactions with his brothers. He has a really special and unique bond with each of his brothers. I took Joshua up to the hospital for a vaccine and a weight check. He weighs about 16.5 pounds. Here is a picture of how they weigh babies here at Tenwek!

Where's Joshua?

Where’s Joshua? That’s right, he’s in the sheet hanging off the scale!

We ended the month with another intern pizza night! Several of the new interns enjoyed their first EVER taste of pizza on this fun night! I made 14 pizzas this time around, and there wasn’t any left when the last intern left our house. The ladies enjoyed snuggling Joshua until he went to bed. The only sad part of the evening was when this new class of interns realized that we won’t be here to celebrate their graduation in a year. Please pray for them during this stressful, busy time of training. Also, pray that the remaining missionaries will pour into these young professionals’ lives.

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This is what your front porch looks like when your house is full of interns on pizza night.

I started memorizing 2 Peter this month too, so I’ll end with a quote from that book.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these has has given us his very good and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for rest and relaxation this month! It was much needed and so appreciated. We are blessed to live in such a beautiful country. Praise God for his creation!

2. Praise God for health! We rejoice that Joshua is growing and developing so well. Noah, Jacob, and Levi are healthy and growing so quickly too.

3. Praise God for godly men and women in Kenya. We are privileged to work alongside them, disciple them, and rejoice with them in what God is doing in Kenya.

4. Praise God for his free gift of salvation! We are grateful for the death, life, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, who paid the ultimate price for our sins. We pray that many more people will spend eternity in heaven as a result of the work of God’s children around the world. To God be the glory!

5. Please pray for us as we pack up the house, travel, and transition back into American life. We are overwhelmed with details on both sides of the ocean! Pray that God will reign supreme in our lives, that the details won’t become idols that distract us from HIM!

We so appreciate your prayers! We look forward to seeing many of you within the coming year!!

Mother’s Day Grief

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Mother’s Day. It’s a day to honor mothers. It’s a day to say “thank you” to those women who birthed you, raised you, cheered you on, and disciplined you. Moms should get breakfast in bed, cheesy gifts from CVS, and lots of slobbery kisses and warm hugs on this special day. I hope all the moms reading this felt extra love and appreciation this Mother’s Day.

But there’s an ugly side of Mother’s Day too. There are mothers who don’t have a baby to hold. No matter how busy they make themselves or how full their arms physically are, they still feel an emptiness today. Their pictures aren’t able to capture all of the evidence that they are mothers. Whether they never got to hold an unborn child, only held a lifeless newborn, or just didn’t get to hold their child long enough, these mothers must fight for to find joy today.

If they’re like me, there were real joy moments. I dressed all of us up in our Sunday best and made us pose for¬†a family photo. I received handmade cards and heard some of their favorite things about me. We ate at Aunt Barbara’s house for breakfast. Best of all, I didn’t wash¬†a dirty dish all day! Aaron and the boys did an excellent job at making me feel appreciated today. Then, I get to eat at my favorite pizza restaurant tomorrow, and Aaron will take the boys shopping at one of my favorite shops. (No drug store gifts¬†this year!) I am blessed by my guys.

Then, mingled in with these happy times, I¬†feel sadness, a deep longing for a child that isn’t part of the gift-giving and words of affirmation. I don’t get cards, gifts, hugs, or kisses from Hannah. I’m heartbroken by the fact that I had only one Mother’s Day with her. Despite my loud, rowdy house and my many boy blessings, I’m overcome with grief today.

But God…God is forever faithful. As I was taking time this afternoon to grieve, I felt God’s presence, His comfort, and His assurance that I am a mother of five. No, my family photo doesn’t show it, but I do have a daughter. She’s enjoying another day in heaven while I’m down here on earth fighting for joy. He has blessed me with five beautiful children. My prayer is that we’ll all by in heaven together some day.

The joy and sorrow dance once again, because my heart still misses my little girl.

So, if you are a mother whose arms aren’t as full as they should be today, I want to grieve with you. I validate your feelings, and I’m uplifting you to the throne of God. He cares for you, and He longs to reunite you to your baby.

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. Pslam 27:4

Levi is holding a pink rose in memory of Hannah.

Levi is holding a pink rose in memory of Hannah.

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for mothers! I’m blessed by a wonderful, loving, supportive mother who has taught me so much! I love you, Mom! I’m also blessed with a great mother-in-law. I love her too!

2. Praise God for dads too! Today is my dad’s birthday. I love you, Daddy!

3. Praise God for faster internet and more reliable electricity! It should make blogging more manageable.

4. Praise God for a very blessed April! I will fill you in as soon as I have a moment to finish that post.

5. Please pray for all the moms today who are missing a child.