05 May, 2015

The Other Side of the Wall

    I set the flavored coffee creamer out with a quiet sense of pride. We were having friends over for coffee and i loved having something special to serve with our coffee. We were at a crucial stage of our lives. Struggling with credit card debt from a party lifestyle before meeting Jesus, and unable to make ends meet, we were praying about moving from Ohio back to Lancaster Co where Marlin had a job offer. (btw, i had told God i would rather move to China than back to Lancaster. That's another whole story but you can guess where God put us. Lancaster it was.) So our mentor friends came over and we were fellowshipping and sharing about our frustrations when our friend made a comment that has never left me and that changed my whole perspective. He pointed at my bottle of coffee creamer and ever so kindly told me that even little things like that make a difference when you want to get out of debt. I was stunned but after i got over my reaction, i knew i had heard truth and God wanted me to pay attention. That was years ago and we did move back to Lancaster. (and it was a blessing) I struggled with the fact that as a stay at home, homeschooling mama of many littles, i couldn't make money to help out with that debt load. So i prayed about it and the Holy Spirit impressed on my heart that every little sacrifice i made, He would multiply it, loaves and fishes style. I would stand at yard sales, debating whether God meant something as small as a 50 cent piece of something pretty. Often i would lay it back down and walk away, wondering exactly how God was going to manage to multiply something so small but knowing that my heart felt free. I didn't realize that God was teaching me basic principles of money management, of self denial, and of trust. And somehow, He multiplied our efforts and we were able to pay off all debts far sooner than we ever dreamt possible. We talked about calling the Dave Ramsey show and screaming "we're debt free!!" but that never happened. Instead we bought a farm and learned what being poor, american style, really was. :)

  So we move to Africa and Marlin and i wrestled with the poverty outside our compound walls. We knew what it was like to struggle financially but never had we seen anything like we saw here. Our typical, American response was to start handing out money and food but thankfully we had people here who warned us against that. It wasn't long before cynicism knocked on our heart's doors and when the electricity would go out for the fifth time in one day, one of us was sure to mutter, "stupid country." I worried and prayed about our hearts, wondering if we were going to leave discouraged and bitter. It seemed that the more the poor received the more they demanded, and the more they demanded the less we felt like giving. And yet we couldn't deny that there were very real needs surrounding us, and that the Americans had the power and money to help. So why did everything seem backwards and wrong? Were missions and foreign aid a joke? Maybe even wrong? So what does a person do about the scriptures telling believers to help the poor? What about the great commission? And what about the fateful verse, "Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away?" I was ready to hand out everything we had and Marlin and i got into some heated (i mean loving, ha!) discussions about what that verse means. Turns out maybe i was wrong and he was right. What??

  And then i was handed a book this past weekend that i've been devouring in great gulps. "The other side of the wall" by Gary Miller. If you have any interest in missions, reaching the poor, and giving, you need to read it. If you have no interest in such things i pity your poor soul. He hits every question that Marlin and i have struggled with and lays out Biblical giving in a clear, compassionate way. I had such guilt when we first came with being born not only in one of the world's richest countries, but also being born into a culture that values honesty, moral integrity, and a hard work ethic. I also wanted to kick every African male's backside who took a second wife. Still working through that one.

  The crux of the matter is that every true, born again believer is going to have a heart of compassion. It might not look the same or be walked out the same, but it will be at the core of a Jesus obeying person. But in spite of having giving, compassionate hearts, a person can do real damage by winging out dollar bills left and right. We have seen that damage. However, there is a place for giving financially and we have been the grateful recipients of people who gave to us in time of need. I don't think i'll ever forget the time when we had hit bottom emotionally and financially on the farm, questioning whether we had heard from God in the first place, and we opened the mail and someone had blessed us financially in a  way that we knew they couldn't really afford. We sat that day in stunned amazement, tears streaming down our faces.

  Sometimes you "just" need someone to walk beside you in love and humility, strengthening your faith in yourself and your abilities. We've been blessed with friends who have also done that. They believed in us, even when we weren't sure we believed in ourselves. They gave counsel and sometimes simply listened, drinking coffee (without fancy creamers ;) and hearing our hearts.

  Now that i think of it, i don't think Marlin and i have ever faced true poverty. We've always been blessed with rich relationships and so many other amazing components that have made us into who we are. Our hearts are to take what we have learned, and are learning, and apply it to our giving.

14 April, 2015

19 Years...

  Nineteen years ago on the thirteenth, i placed my hand in Marlin's and said "I do" and started a life full of crazy love and laughter.

  We've had our moments. I once threw a strawberry pie in Marlin's face. One time he didn't come home for hours because he was so angry with me. We probably both deserved it.

  After 5 years of living and sinning together, we were losing our marriage and had long before lost our trust in each other. But anything is possible with God and it's ONLY because of Him that we have the kind of marriage today that means being best friends. He's my homie. I miss him when he's gone, if only for a couple of hours, and delight in seeing him walk in the gate. I've been accused of chasing him around the house but what's a woman to do if her man plays hard to get.

  Marriage is hard work but it's even more fun than hard if you surrender to Jesus and then surrender to each other. I would walk up that aisle all over again (hopefully in a prettier dress) and say "I do" with deep conviction and then i would chase him back the aisle to begin our happily ever after.

  On to other things.

  Christopher is growing, growing, growing. He is such a happy little man, taking long naps and looking around with big eyes and pursed lips when he's awake. However, i think he's getting a wee bit spoiled because he's learned if he fusses someone is bound to pick him up and shower him with kisses and attention. Little stinker.

  I'm healing well and have joined Marlin on his evening walks to try and get this flab whipped back into shape. My hormones have evened out (i think...do they ever really even out?) and every week i feel better. It's such mixed feelings i have with Christopher. I'm 39 and i know my biological clock is  ticking, warning me that there won't be many more babies. For the first time i'm ok with that. If the Lord chooses to give us more children, i'm fine with that but i'm also ok with Christopher being our last. So glad it's not my decision to make but i can rest in God leading through my husband.  He doesn't make such decisions lightly but feels his responsibility to watch over his "weaker vessel" and i revel in that. I used to think i was tough woman, independent and strong. I have since found out i'm not.  So i soak up puddles of love with my little man and kiss his silky, soft cheeks. I breathe in his sweet, sweet baby smell and try to store up enough baby to last me forever, even if forever is until the next positive pregnancy test. :)

  As far as the other eight, not so mini Weavers floating around here, they are doing well. The boys eat enough to cause fear and trembling in their mother's heart as she compares the size of their food portions and the size of the budget. But as Marlin says, it's an investment. We love having teenagers with their corky sense of humor, altho the sparks fly sometimes. I shudder when i think of what i must have put my mama through at their age. It's a wonderful thing we don't always get what we deserve, isn't it?

   I must post some pictures of dress up day at school. I think i'm emotionally deprived from not doing cool stuff like this when i was young. The children had SO much fun!!

The clown? is the teacher. She's great at coming up with wonderful ideas for keeping school interesting. We then have lego lady, house maid, prairie girl, and pippi long stocking.

This is one of the mission boys, covered in camouflage paint and hair dyed with activated charcoal.  His mama did a great job making him look like a Masai.

Prophet Eric

Crusader Zachary (he has a cross on his shield and armor) and hobo Joshua. My children did their costumes totally on their own while i watched and laughed.  


19 March, 2015

C- Sections, Needles, and Beautiful Baby...

  It's been a week since i lay under those bright lights and wondered what in the world we were thinking to ever consider a long needle in my spine and a knife in my stomach. Now that's it's over? Totally worth it! But don't we always say that?

Dr. Bonyo

  Christopher is doing wonderful and growing like a little man. I haven't weighed him but i'm convinced he's grown a bit since last week. His little face is filling out and he's getting wee little rolls on his legs. I love it, except it makes me sad to think of how fast he will be out of this stage. He's a very good baby so far. He had his days and nights mixed up at first but after working with him a day or two, he's up to 5 or 6 hour stretches at night. I won't promise it will last but i'm happy with even 3 hour stretches as long as he goes right back to sleep after eating. He has the appetite of a little piggy which would fit with the rest of my babies. :)

  So what do i think of a c-section versus natural birth? As i thot, there wasn't any "dear Jesus help me" or "I can't do this" or "NEVER, NEVER again" shrieks but neither was it anything like i envisioned. I was thinking long needle in my spine, and then complete and total numbness from my waist down. Nope, not so much.

  We got into the hospital at 5, planning on an early morning c-section the following day. What do you know, Marlin got a phone call from our surgeon informing us that she had just been told that theatre is full the next morning and she would like to do the surgery that evening yet. Marlin said sure, come on up, and i kissed my dreams of meatballs and french fries good by. He ate his soggy fish while waiting on doctor and the slow wheels of hospital of beaucracy to turn.  Thankfully i hadn't had much of any food that afternoon which is a blessing because puking and choking on the puke wasn't something i wanted to experience while under anesthesia. While we waited we had the privilege of listening to a lady in the throes of very natural labor next door. I found myself praying as much for her as for myself while my eyes filled with tears in sympathy.

Ok, i really, really don't like this picture. I look like i'm either having surgery or have bowel problems. But i'm leaving it on, mostly because Marlin posted it and partly because i can't always be beautiful. "choke" 

  Eventually they wheeled me downstairs on the stretcher and into a little cubby hole to wait on more nurses and paperwork. Marlin asked to be allowed in the operating room so after signing papers that he wouldn't faint and sue them for it, he donned the proper gear and waited. I was feeling pretty calm, up until they wheeled me into the operating room and i saw all the bright lights, the table where i was to be dissected, and the gloved and hatted assistants waiting with their hands in the air. I assumed the "position" and felt the needle go in and the liquid start flowing into my system. As they laid me back and i realized that while i wouldn't feel pain but i WOULD feel pressure, tugging and various other procedures, i had a moment of raw, pure, unadulterated fear. Throw up kind of fear. Never had i felt anything like it and at that moment i envied the woman moaning and praying upstairs in the throes of drug and needle free childbirth. I started praying. Furiously. It's not like i could sit up and say i've changed my mind. I had zero control over my legs at that point and i don't think anyone would've listened if i had. (and just for the record, you know how little, conservative girls are taught modesty as soon as they can sit up? they should also teach them that there will be exceptions and c-sections are one of them. Thankfully they soon taped large blue sheets over my lower half and i hoped no one was scarred for life, esp myself.) As quickly as the fear entered it left, followed by a complete and total peace. I started thanking Jesus for this opportunity of trusting Him, i thanked Him for being in control and i basically held my own praise and worship service while staring up at the ceiling and clutching Marlin's hand. I felt them marking where the incision would be and i sensed when they began, altho thankfully i couldn't feel the actual cutting. I was unprepared for the tugging and pressure that happened and i started wondering if they would ever get the baby out or if they had lost their way. After a great tug and me telling Marlin that i was going to be sore for a very, very long time, we heard a gurgle and Christopher James was pulled out. Marlin said he could tell when the doctor had him out because she got a great big grin on her face. There were tears and rejoicing and much anxious checking to see that baby was ok. And he was!!!

When i first saw this little man's nose i thot it looked like he fit right in with this country. I honestly was a little worried that his nose was abnormal. (It was before i saw the picture of myself during surgery.) His nose is now unsquashed and quite adorable. 

  The nurses brought Christopher over to Marlin and we adored him while the doctor continued to play tug of war with my insides. Marlin and baby disappeared and eventually, at long last i was wheeled out of the operating room and into recovery. That part was tough. My legs felt like concrete and as if there was a million needles pricking them. Like how you feel when you wake up during the night and your hand fell asleep and you can't move it. It was incredibly claustrophobic and i kept praying that no terrorist would decide to choose this time to take over the hospital. Seriously. You think of those things when you are living in a third world country and your legs are completely helpless. At long last they deemed me fit to be moved upstairs and they wheeled my wobbly, still semi numb body upstairs. Marlin was waiting and shortly they brought Christopher in and all was right with my world. Except i had a gash in my stomach, my legs still wouldn't work, and the poor lady next door was still birthing the old fashioned way. At that point i decided i would rather be me than her. Sometimes natural is over rated.

  We were privileged to have a very nice, private room and when the feeling returned to my limbs and they hooked up my pain meds, it truly was right with my world. By Sunday i was home and here we are, a week later. My healing has been going very well, except for a small bout of emotional hormones the fourth and fifth day. Wow, that was not so fun but from what i gathered, normal, especially after a c-section. Christopher is absolutely the cutest thing ever and i don't think it's possible for a child to be loved more.

  Simply put, we are seriously in love!

13 March, 2015

He's Here!

Christopher James Weaver
Born March 12, 2015 8:45 pm
7 lbs. 11 oz.

Both mama and baby are doing fine, and yes he's a little thumb sucker!
He was born c-section but 
I will leave the details for Darla to post at a later date.

Thank you for your prayers,

-Big Daddy Weav

07 March, 2015

Saturday in Kenya...

  Saturday.....a day of sleeping in and big breakfasts. Of leisurely cups of coffee and messy houses. Because no matter how clean my house was when i went to bed Friday night, somehow by saturday breakfast it looks like a tornado went through. The kitchen is trashed and there's books all over the living room, interspersed with flip flops and paper creations. Sometimes tho, something happens and there's a spirit of energy flowing that creates happiness and wellbeing. It may or may not have something to do with the pot of coffee mother cheerfully fed her family so they would feel happy and productive.

  So today i snapped some pictures of what our day consisted of. There's one key element missing and that's in the form of Big Daddy Weav. He had supervisor meetings so is gone the whole day. I miss him. We miss him. He's the one that cracks the whip and keeps the boys moving. I also like when he orders me off for a nap, no guilt allowed.

  But before pictures, i need to say that unless little mr. weaver decides to reposition himself into the head down position, there's a c section planned for Friday morning. How do i feel about that? Well, you know how with your first baby you laughed when you were told it will hurt like no tomorrow? I mean, after all, people have been having babies for 6,000 years so it can't be THAT bad.

  Cry babies.

  And then you woke up with contractions and headed into the midwife and assured her that it was time. She checks and says go home, you're one centimeter. You start getting a little worried that maybe it's going to hurt worse than you thot and within an hour or two you no longer care about how you look or sound, and violent purple grape juice puke all over your white bedspread is of no concern. Finally you go back into the clinic with no shoes and hair standing on end. (i'm not exaggerating) They check you and lo and behold, you're all of 6 centimeters. You try the bed. You try the tub. Nothing helps. It hurts like......well, good mennonite ladies can't say what it really hurts like but you think the world might be coming to an end and will someone PLEASE DO SOMETHING! C-section would be a blessing and you inform anyone who listens that this will be the very. last. time. EVER! You lose all dignity and when you try to gnaw on your husband's hand, he yanks it away looking offended and you feel that he deserves at least to get a touch of what you're going through.  And just when you're sure it will never end, the baby crowns, you think you will never, ever walk again and just like that, he's here. A real live, screaming, red faced baby, pooping and peeing all over your chest. Who knew meconium could be so beautiful. You're laughing and crying that it's a real baby. You had forgotten. Your husband thinks you're amazing and you agree, even while you apologize for trying to bite him and assure him that it's not because you really WANTED to, he just happened to be in the way. After it's all over, everything's cleaned up and baby and husband are sleeping, you think that maybe, just maybe you will do it again.

  18 months later you remember why you said never, ever again, but it's not nearly so bad the second time. You don't try to bite anyone, altho maybe that's because people had the sense to keep their hands where they belong. You find out the miracle of birth is just as beautiful with baby number two. And three. And four....five....

  Which brings me to baby boy number 8. In some ways i feel the way about c section like i did about natural birth. I'm out of my comfort zone either way, this being my first hospital birth, with a doctor that i can't always understand, in a country where white women in pain are a novelty. With a c section i go in, the surgery happens and i'm done. No yelling, no saying i can't do this, no embarrassed apologies later. But i've never healed from a c section and my healing after natural births are amazing. I'm clueless how it's like with a c section so i don't  know what to fear. I'm as naive about birthing with a knife as i was about natural births. But i do know this. We want what's safest for baby and if that means c section, so be it. Before Friday tho, we are hoping to try a few tricks to see if he'll turn. It doesn't hurt to try, right?

  So now that we have that out of the way, let me show a few pictures of this last (hopefully) saturday with only 7 boys instead of 8.

  Banana bread. Lots of it because i should've thot of freezing some whole for smoothies instead of smashing them all. But who knows what this week will hold so who's complaining.

  And chicken manure and the young men in charge.

  Random pictures because it might be a long, long time til i post again. Or it might not, depending on my fickle moods. And baby.

Yup, that's little mr. weaver causing that big belly. It could also be too much chocolate the last number of months.

All finished, down to the one with a sinkhole. It's a good thing my row of males don't care about looks. 

She's supposed to be cleaning her room. How to do that while standing on the bed i have no idea.

 That's some of the cutest manure haulers i've ever seen. 

They're missionary boys hauling chicken poop, not terrorists. 

Nothing like a coke from a glass bottle to refresh a person. 

Story time and then naps. May i say hallelujah?? Because that means i to get to sleep.


20 February, 2015

A Missionary Woman of Great Proportions

  So i'm 5 wks away from D-day......and that means i feel beautiful. Fulfilled. Gracious. Womanly.


  I do feel very rich at having the opportunity to carry another baby under my heart, but quite frankly, i also feel very grouchy. I discovered a way to make a husband's eyebrows shoot high is to tell him that you feel grouchy enough that if it was closer to due date you would think labor is soon to commence. Few things make a man panic quicker than to tell him that as he is preparing to head into the interior for the day.

 I assured him. "No worries, dear. I've 5 wks to go."

 Besides, i haven't had the nesting urge and everyone knows there's no chance of a baby before the clothes are washed and pampers waiting. I've only been to see my doctor once because the other two times she wasn't available so i'm sure little mr. weaver will be gracious enough to wait. Most likely he'll be so gracious that he won't show up until my due date is past, and i've destroyed any hopes of presenting a womanly, gracious mother figure to the world, never mind my family.

  At least telling Marlin that i'm miserable enough to take a few heads off earned me a shoulder rub from him. He also ordered all children at a safe distance from me for their own safety sake.

  We're the kind of missionary family everyone dreams of emulating.

  I think though that i'm feeling a bit better after a cup of coffee, laced with caffeine and sugar. If there was a Starbucks close by and i didn't have to brave Kenyan roads and lunatics, i would drive there and ponder the seriousness of life over a good book. That is if i didn't have any other children needing a mother. But i do happen to have many offspring, and there's no Starbucks and there ARE many lunatics outside this compound careening over speed bumps on piki piki's so i will stay put and do laundry.

  Wish me well.


30 January, 2015

Life in General

  So i'm feeling guilty for not posting for awhile but honestly, i can barely get my basic work finished much less have the energy to write. It seems someone has pulled the plug on my body and all energy and desire to work has drained out. Little mr. weaver continues to grow, meaning i continue to grow, and i'm happy about that, even while i sit in the rocking chair with a book and a glass of vitamin C drink and vitamins, hoping it will work a miracle and i'll be able to accomplish something besides dragging myself from sink to couch.

  I'm not complaining, or at least i'm trying to make it look like i'm not, because i'm a walking miracle. Any baby is a miracle, all the more realized when you have lost one, and i'm still walking, albeit slowly and ponderously. We had a doctor visit this week and were delighted to hear that this little man went from a breech to head down. Yay!! Still not looking forward to labor, but i have no doubt that it'll be worth every earth shattering contraction.

  We've had quite the week. We decided to make a couple hour trip to Tenwek Mission Hospital for a baby consultation. On the way to our doctor's visit a car coming toward us sideswiped our vehicle. The driver's side window shattered so Marlin instantly wore a lap full of glass and a startled expression. Then that evening Jonathan had a hard fall on the back of his head while playing with his big brother. He developed a big goose egg but we weren't real concerned until he started throwing up. The first time he puked i went online and Google faithfully told me to have no fear as long as it's once. By the third time he vomited Marlin called a nurse friend who told us we need to take him in to the ER to make sure he didn't have a concussion. He was deathly white but perked up at the thot that he gets his very own trip to the hospital. I figured at that point he was past the danger of brain damage if he was able to get his flip flops on and cheerfully walk out the door holding a large, purple bucket in case of future vomiting. Turns out he had swelling but no concussion. He proudly showed any interested party the next day the large pictures of his skull and skeletal smile.

  So we feel rich and blessed this week. The ultrasound of the baby looked great, it was only the side of the car instead of the whole vehicle to get sideswiped, and Jonathan has his brain intact.

  And since i'm sitting here with my chin in my hand, wondering what else to write, i think i'll go tackle some more cleaning. I had a cup of coffee this morning and that means i actually have a bit of energy so i want to take full advantage of it. I probably won't sleep till the wee hours of the night in payment but tomorrow's Saturday and that means SLEEP IN! Ahh.....

  Have a good weekend, count your blessings, and enjoy the snow for those of us in hot, dry, dusty Africa...