Sunday, January 29, 2012

Somber Reflections

On of my New Year's resolutions was to be more "present" with the kids and infuse more fun into our daily lives. I am so sad about those opportunities I have missed to fully connect with the blessings the Lord has entrusted me with when I am tired after a long day at work and I simply go through the motions during our evening routine. I am not sure how many times I have skipped pages of a book a child has requested I read, because this is my 7th book I am reading that evening or a requst for just one more kiss or to be a tickle monster and all I can think about are the dishes waiting in the sink, a kitchen to be cleaned and all that is involved in managing a household with four little ones. Or the times I have declined an offer from the kids to join them in dance or song, or paint or simply be silly. I spend way too much time in correcting and training and not enough time capturing the hearts of my kids and creating memories that can only happen if I am fully present. I really don't want to simply be the mom that trained up my kids in righteousness, but who never seized every request to engage in their play world. Because, lets face it, though I like a clean and neat house, the things that make the best memories are those moments we stop and let a child know they matter and we really care about them - even the hundredth pretend tea party, the story with a million "and then" that never seem to end and watching the same cartoon a hundred times and remembering to laugh at all the silly jokes!

All the things that seem important on my to do list appear silly when you read of a mom with empty hands after loving her child with lavish abandon for 2 years and 8 months and never, ever leaving his side. A mother who counts it all joy without a murmur of complaint every second God granted her with her precious child, even if it meant quitting her job, loosing her marriage and being housebound with her child who could not leave the house for the 2 years and 8 months of his life. Through every trial and tribulation, she counted it an honor and a privilege to minister her child. Baby Tripp's life and his mother's courage, love and sacrifice have spoken so deeply to my heart - to create magic in the mundane, re prioritize those things without lasting significance and more purposefully show my kids in word and action my all consuming love for them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tough Re-Entry!

We have been back for a week and I just cannot seem to shake the jet lag - which is funny since I normally never suffer from jet lag and I was totally fine in Kenya! As soon as I sit down, I am out! On my second day back, someone came by to visit, and I could not summon the energy to keep my eyes open! Not my most hospitable time! Three weeks without having to worry about housework, cooking or work and then having to jump into all that almost immediately must have gotten to me!

The kids totally enjoyed their visit and keep asking when they are going back to Kenya! They were totally spoilt - a smile bought them everything mommy and daddy said no to! Kids who had never had soda or gum before were having them everyday! Re-entry for them has been interesting - no longer can they  leave the house unsupervised because there were so many people to look out for them and shock of all shock, they have to walk everywhere because they are not countless people offering piggyback rides!

I missed the point of vacation which is rest, and tried to give the kids as rich an experience as I could and scheduled activities for everyday! We racked up some miles with visits to places like Giraffe Center, Ostrich Farm, Village Market, Mamba Village, a Coffee Plantation, Lake Nakuru, Masinga Dam, Ndakaini Dam, and of course the highlight, a Safari! The kids were totally amazed at all of God's creation and it was so cute each making claim to their own animal! The lions gave us amazing shows and would come real close to the tour vans. We could not have asked to stay at a better tented camp than Ashnil Mara - the customer service was amazing and they were not fazed at having a large group of 42 and all the different requests a large group makes! The manager was the ultimate professional and consistently came to ask me if there was anything else they could do for us! He even arranged for an amazing hot lunch by the river with the hippos after our tour drivers dropped the ball and forgot to order our packed lunch for one of our game drive days. And best of all, the waiters knew all my kids by name, would give them piggy back rides and would always anticipate their needs and as soon as I went to the buffett to serve one of the kids, I would come back to the table and find they have already served the other munkins! They took me to the poor house as in all my previous 6 trips to Mara, this was by far the best customer service I had ever received and I wanted the waiters to know as much! Sarova Lion Hill in Lake Nakuru, a total anticlimax in terms of customer service after Ashnil, but their food was great!

Christmas was so simple this year - church service and then lots of food with family and friends. Nothing like having over a hundred people for Christmas lunch - the fellowship and laughter was so amazing. And not having to worry about getting the right gift and the right wrapping and all the other worries of a commercialized Christmas!

Trying to live out James 1:27 to support widows ~ we went unannounced and the surprise on this precious widow's face was priceless. And most humbling of all was that she with almost nothing scrambled to make us a meal even as we insisted that she not bother herself. She delighted in serving us her best - even though she had nothing to spare.

New Year's Eve was so unevenful - fast asleep in a hotel and could not even muster the energy to go watch fireworks in London which were supposed to be amazing.

I must have looked haggard on our return as a kind police officer approached my girls who were skipping and giggling to tell them mommy had had a long flight and to be good to mommy as she got the luggage! He then helped me hold their hands and go look for the daddy and the boys who were just anxious to go home and had walked ahead of us!

December revolved around food, family and friends and I am now back to training for my first 5K run - my new girth requires it! Nairobi has lots of eating options and we especially enjoyed dinner at tthe Tribe Hotel. My vegetarian niece even found a place that rocked her boat - and finally cleaned up her plate after a delicious veggie burger at Holiday Inn. She had been surrounded by meat lovers and she had been barely eating for two weeks. We also enjoyed a knock off Starbucks at Java House and the kids again charmed the waiters and we got excellent customer service.  It is always interesting to me the regional adaptation of foods - who would ever have thought of finding french fries in an Indian restaurant?  But that was in keeping with Kenyan's love for french fries. Kinda like my chinese friend who needed to come to America to learn numerous "chinese" dishes she had never heard of in China!