Thursday, May 2, 2013

For Martin.

Sometimes it hits me so suddenly that it takes my breath away. 
It's the way things remind me of you-when I have a sleeping kid in my arms, or when I see a book you love, or when I hear something that sounds like your laugh. 
And the pain comes fast and it comes strong and it lingers. 
There are days when I would fly a million miles just to tuck you into bed and kiss your little cheeks. 
There are times when I wish that I could scream across the world that I love you and miss you and want you in my arms. 
There are nights when I fall asleep with Google Earth on a screen next to my bed, windows open and lights off, imagining that I am a dot on my computer screen, picturing that I am in that place next to you. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Coming home

This week is a tough one. 
This is the week that I would have been coming home had I stayed in Kenya the amount of time that I originally planned for. 

This week I got a call that Martin had been to the hospital because he had a bug bite in his ear and it got infected.
This week Martin asked me on the phone when I am coming back.
This week I got to hear my baby say "love you" from thousands of miles away and I missed him so much that I almost wished he hadn't even said it. 

And I couldn't help but think that if I had stayed I would have been there to take him to the doctor. 
And if I had stayed he wouldn't have to ask when I'm coming back.
And if I had stayed I could hold him in my arms and hear him say "love you" a thousand times without having it hurt. 

So sometimes it's hard and sometimes I don't understand and sometimes I feel like screaming and crying and throwing things because it just hurts that much to be so far from someone I love so much. 

But most times, I am thankful that the plan changed. 
I am glad that I've been home to go through so many different transitions with my family. 
I love getting to help my sister plan her wedding. 
I love being a part of decisions about my family's new house.
I love getting to see my family and friends and boyfriend.
I love getting to nanny my three favorite American kiddos. 

There is so much good in the time that I have been home.
But this week is still tough, and it still hurts to be away from my Martin.
There is good that comes in knowing he is being loved and he is loving and he is growing and laughing and playing, it's just hard to know that I am missing it. 

I want to share his sweet voice and sweet laughter with you though. Because there isn't a person in the world who shouldn't get to hear such a wonderful sound. (and sorry you can't see his sweet face, we had no power during the filming of this gigglefest <3 )

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Giving away love

Getting to be a “mom” for the past few weeks has been the greatest and hardest thing in all my life.
I have loved getting to love this little one.
I have hated knowing that he won’t always be mine.

Today we took the kids to see their mom for the first time since they left her over 2 weeks ago. My heart ached for her fiercely for her when I realized that in the same way she has trusted me to take care of her baby, I will soon have to trust someone else to take care of him. What an honor that she would trust me with something so precious to her heart. I know how hard is must have been because from this side of the story, I am struggling to trust on that same level even when I know in my heart that he will be loved and cared for in such a great way.
When you are leaving part of your heart in someone else’s care, it’s always hard to wave goodbye and trust that it will be well taken care of.

Times like these I’m thankful that I’ve had 22 years of having the best mom in the world and she knows my heart better than anyone. I am so thankful for her and how she reminded me that children are all on borrowed time from God. He is the one who LETS us love them, for however long it may be.
And He loves them always always. So when my trust is failing or when my heart is breaking or when I can barely breathe from the hurt, I have to remember that HE IS FAITHFUL. And so He reminds me how lucky each person who gets to love this little one is. And He reminds me to share Martin with the world. Because bottled up in this little boy is such a great love, and how fair would it be for me to keep that only to myself?

I have LOVED watching Martin grow and learn. Nothing in the world is better than the way he smiles at me or the way his giggles sound. Nothing makes me happier than seeing his eyes brighten when he learns new words or figures out how to do something on his own. I love teaching him and laughing with him and tucking him into bed. And I love seeing Jesus in him.

I will miss him with my whole heart.
But my momma was right.
God gave me the privilege of pouring all of my love into this sweet baby so that he would be ready to be loved by someone else when the time comes for me to leave.

It is my hope and my prayer that he remembers the love that he has. That he doesn’t ever go a day without knowing how much God loves him and how much I love him. The he finds the affection he needs in his new temporary home and that he never feels abandoned or uncared for. It is my hope and prayer that I will see him again soon and that I will know how much love he has received in my absence.

I am praising God that I get to love Martin; I am praising Him that so many others will soon get to love him too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Temporary placement, permanent love

Can I introduce you to the newest piece of my heart?

Last Saturday I was able to go with Annie and Phoebe to visit a family that we had heard about who had some babies that might need help. Since Annie is currently running the P82 baby home in Nairobi, as soon as we heard about the babies we thought that they might be able to find a good home in Neema House.
My heart would have never been ready for the kids that we were about to meet.

You always hope for the best, you talk to God and you tell Him that you want to help only as much as you are needed, that if the kids can stay with the mom, that’s the best thing.
When we met the two sweet 17 month twins and sweet 4-5ish year old Martin, we knew that they needed a good bit of help to get back to a healthy condition.
By the grace of God they have a mom who really did want to help her kids, even if she herself didn’t quite know how.
She gave us permission to take her kids to the hospital and to keep them for some time while they are getting healthy.
The babies traveled back to Nairobi with Annie and I have the awesome privilege of taking care of sweet Martin for the time being.
And gosh, what a privilege it is!!

I want to say that I’ve always believed in miracles. That I’ve always known how awesome God is and how big His works are. But this week has wrecked everything I have ever thought.
I’ve realized that I have always put a limit on the miracles that I believe, and it took this little boy to show me that my God will always always be bigger and greater and more faithful and powerful than I could ever ever hope to even imagine.

On Sunday I had a little boy who I thought didn’t even know how to smile. He was quiet and looked incredibly sad.
I would never believe that the sweet babe sleeping next to me right now was the same kid if I hadn’t witnessed the transformation every second of every day.

His body is small and fragile but his heart is huge and he has the most contagious giggle I have ever heard.
He is curious and funny and loving and such a trooper.
He loves eating and hates his medicine.
He has a rattle that he carries around everywhere and he LOVES little books.
He always manages to scoot right next to me when we are sleeping and loves to cuddle.
He loves playing peek-a-boo and will find anything that you hide from him.
He is scared of loud metal noises and going outside in the dark.
His laughter could be the soundtrack of my life all day every day and it would still never be long enough.

This is why God is good-because I get to love this little one now, with all that I have. And because I get to love him forever after, even when he is no longer with me.
We’re called to love. I’m lucky because loving right now means seeing the biggest miracle of my life.
One day he will be big enough and strong enough to not need me. But isn’t that what parents always hope for their kids, even if it means that they leave you? And even though he isn’t mine, it’s what I want for him with my whole heart.

My favorite scripture since I’ve been in Kenya has been Acts 17: 26-28. 
“From one man he made every nation, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’”

The other night I came to put Martin to sleep and laid down next to him and he immediately snuggled up onto my chest and fell asleep. And God said “THIS IS WHY YOU ARE HERE.”
I didn’t move for an hour.

He has a plan, a GREAT plan. And He knows where we need to be and when. And when we do what scripture says, when we reach out and seek Him and when we live and move and have our being with Him, we get to be a part of the works that He sets before us.

I love getting to love Martin. And I will love getting to love him for as long or as little as I am called to. I will love him until it hurts and then I will keep on loving him more. And even if my place in his life is fleeting, my love for him is endless.

“I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.”
-Mother Theresa

Friday, November 16, 2012


There are moments of my life where it is so easy to remember how Kenya is as much of a home to me as Georgia. Times when my heart is so happy and content here where I remember why I fell in love with this place five years ago and why I will always want to come back to it. I want to share some of these moments with you.
Kenya is home:
  •      When I am curled up on the couch reading a book and drinking tea and enjoying the constant soundtrack of animals and kids
  •      When I run to the supermarket and the kids on my road only wave to me in recognition instead of screaming at me in fascination
  •       When I have a day that I plan all my own, where I make the arrangements and decisions and have all the freedom in the world to do what I want
  •      When I go to a restaurant to pick up lunch and already know how much it will cost me because I’ve been there enough times to have the menu memorized
  •      When I go to the bank and the security guard always insists on putting his card in the ATM before me just to make sure it isn’t in a mood to eat cards
  •       When I am on the way somewhere and pass by friends on the street who know my name
  •       When I can turn my music up and sing along to American songs while I make dinner (even if it means strange looks from my Kenyan family) 

So many pieces of my heart are here- in the people, in the culture, even in the language. And I love the times when I am perfectly comfortable being at home here. I love when I can be still and rest and not feel like just because I am in Kenya I have to be doing something productive every second of every day. (Even though I also love times when I am busy busy and full of places to go and people to see)

I don’t know that I will ever get tired of having more than one home.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Loves of my life

Sometimes God has to nudge me and remind me of how miraculous and faithful He is. Sometimes I forget to be in awe of Him and sometimes I forget the how good His promise is and sometimes I fail to see all of the wonders of His works.
Many of you will remember Paul, Willy and Issac- the three boys that we had the pleasure of meeting when I was here in December. When we met these three, the life that they knew was cold and empty and really hard. (To read what I wrote about them then, visit here: )

Since the second my feet touched Kenyan soil, I have been itching to get to these boys. I wanted to see them and play with them and hug them and dance with them. God knew that I needed to see my sweet boys, and this past weekend I was able to travel with my awesome friend Gordon to Nyahururu to visit with them for a while.
Saturday night goes down in the books as one of the best nights I will ever have in Kenya. Even before Gordon and I walked through the gate, we could hear music coming from the yard. When we walked in all of the boys were singing and laughing and helping prepare supper. At first, I think they didn’t remember me well enough to show all their personality, but by the end of the night we were all laughing to tears and dancing for hours. Joy was literally in every single inch of the room and nothing could have taken the smile off my face that night. (I even watched a rabbit get slaughtered and skinned and kept my smile!)
What a transformation for those three boys, and what a joy to get to witness it! I love them with such a huge chunk of my heart and I am so thankful that God uses them to remind me every day of how prodigal we each are and how much can change when we come home to Him. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Kenyan Recess

Recess in Kenya is something that baffles me.
 Picture this: the kids run out of the classroom like they haven’t seen daylight in weeks and roll around on the grass like there is no better playground in the entire world. They climb trees and play games that involve 15 kid pile ups and jump around on old tires and they laugh and laugh and laugh. Sometimes they form circles and dance around and sometimes they push and shove and fight with each other like they are in boxing rings. And it’s all 100% acceptable play.
Can I tell you about a game that they play? Maybe it will blow your mind the way it blew mine. All of the kids line up in this long line and then three walk behind them. The three takes turns with different jobs-one will cover the person's eyes, one will pinch their neck, and one will slap them on the back. And the the child who has their back turned must guess who it was that pinched them and who it was that hit them. And that is a GAME. Please picture my face the first time that I saw this being played. (I can guarantee you that the only way to describe it would be SHOCK.) 
If I ever were to forget how different life is here, if I were to ever fail to see the differences between teaching here and teaching in the US, recess with always be a reminder.