Life can leave you so bitter

The Apostle James warned us to beware the power of the tongue. Though it’s small, it can set a whole forest ablaze. For the past few weeks, maybe even longer, my tongue has been out of control. Within in the confines of our home Ray has practically been assaulted daily with constant negativity about this person and that person, and even that person’s mother’s brother’s step-baby. I had something to say about everybody.

A bitter revelation

Last night, as an argument Ray and I had about money led to a time of prayer and repentance, I began to feel convicted about my recent behavior, so I confessed and acknowledged that I knew I was doing wrong and asked the Lord for help. Normally I “confess” and “ask for help”, and then get up and go right back to what I was doing before. It’s no wonder that Jesus never felt inclined to share any insight with me about what was happening or how I could change. But this time my confession was accompanied with tears and a broken heart, so in response the Lord gave me one word: bitter.

Unbeknownst to me, bitterness had crept into my heart, and like a silent killer began to spread its influence abroad. My tongue was only a symptom of my sin-sick soul, of course because out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Truth is, I have a lot of reasons that I could be bitter, and when God first gave me the word, my mind went straight to those issues, but none of those things seemed to really touch on the root of my problem. Remember the argument I mentioned that led to the revelation? Remember what was it over?

Money.

Let’s begin again

When Ray and I moved to Kenya, we decided to stay out of ministry entirely for the first year of marriage, so we were just hanging out in Nairobi getting better acquainted with each other and learning how to support ourselves. In the beginning we really struggled financially, but we had both agreed to this lifestyle, and in truth, we were happy. At that time there was no bitterness to be seen anywhere near my heart. I honestly felt a little proud of myself for being able to hack it in spite of what people thought or said I could do.

Finally we started a business and literally made over $1,000 a month. For us, especially in the Kenyan economy, that’s a pretty big deal. It was during that season in our life that we decided we always wanted to work for our living. Even once we got into ministry and I could finally claim my long awaited status of missionary, we agreed not to raise support for personal expenses, only for ministry needs. Yes, we want to serve the people here as missionaries, but Kenya is our home. We’re not just here for a season. We will raise our children here, and we want to build our family legacy here from the sweat of our own brows. It’s just a personal conviction we have.

Moving to Kitale meant we had to start over, and once again it took us a while to get back on our feet. There would be dry spells and then we’d have a bunch of jobs all at once. Before this week we were in a dry spell… for two months. We already had practice living off of 100 shillings (about $1.50) a day, sometimes less, so it was no big deal really. We were used to it.

The inciting incident

The catalyst behind my downward spiral into negativity came as the result of a plan we made to travel to the States to surprise my niece for her 6th birthday. Though we were on track to making that happen when we lived in Nairobi, Kitale proved to be perfect for ministry purposes, but not so perfect for business. Nevertheless, God took care of us and we never went hungry or without shelter. Ray was able to use his skills to do odd jobs here and there that kept us afloat, and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it many times again, our spiritual parents here have really covered us. God has used them to make this transition bearable in numerous ways. He has shown us time and time again through them that He’s got our backs.

I’ve written before about how I usually try to be overly optimistic or live a faith-filled life instead of admitting that I have a problem, so even though our savings for plane tickets began dwindling away to cover living expenses, I maintained that I had faith that God would work out all the arrangements. Meanwhile, I watched others travel, shop, eat, and spend like there was no tomorrow, and bitterness began to set in.

I promise you I had no idea I was becoming bitter at first. Every once in while I would comment on how I wish I could live like so and so or how it would be nice to be able to afford to get a new cardigan since mine had holes in it, but that didn’t seem bitter, it just seemed like a normal human response. But you give bitterness an inch and it will rapidly take a mile, so here we are today with me coming to the realization that as content as I thought I was, I really was just bitter.

Time to make a change

Now here’s the thing. I know that the answer isn’t more money. No matter how much money we acquire, I would never be able to rid myself of the greenish film that tints my vision. I would still be a jealous, envious, and bitter person; I’d just be a jealous, envious, and bitter person with a fist full of cash. God knows that better than I do, so I know that He’s revealing this to me now so I don’t crumble under the pressure later. Work is picking up again, some friends have helped us get our plane ticket fund restarted, and we’re coming out of the dry spell, but that alone won’t change my attitude. I have to.

Now more than ever I’m feeling the need to dip myself into the permeating presence of a God who is overflowing with love, joy, and peace. I need to take my eyes off of others and self, and put them back where they’re supposed to be, gazing into the fiery eyes of the King of Glory. My hope is not in wealth, but in God, who richly provides us with everything we need.

A more serious symptom of my sickness was a lack of desire to spend time with God. I can’t say that I was bitter towards Him, but I did feel like escaping our situation through movies and mindless Internet activity was a more appealing option than reading the Bible or praying. I was so wrong. It was the very remedy my soul needed!

I know that bitterness doesn’t just go away overnight. My confession kicked over the table it was feasting on, but it will keep trying to come back for scraps. When I hear stories of opportunity that money has afforded other people, I have to make the choice then and there to say no to bitterness. I have to deny it again and again to the point that it becomes starved and is forced to leave in search of a better host. It’s only by the grace and power of Jesus that I am able to achieve that, so I ask those of you that have it on your hearts to keep us in prayer, that you pray for me in that wise. I’m sure there are plenty of other roots of bitterness or whatever in my heart that need to be dealt with, but this is what God is highlighting to me in this season. I’d sure love your prayer support.

I’d also like to say that though my particular struggle with bitterness is centered around money, I believe this blog post can be applicable to many situations: singleness, marriage, children, material possessions, time, etc. As I search my heart and bring its contents to the Lord for illumination, I pray that this post encourages you to do the same.

Much love,

Something bigger going on

In my early days of attempting to be an artist, whether in dance, music, or singing, I really struggled with actually labeling myself as such.

“Not I,” says I

As a child I discovered a deep love for movement, but because we couldn’t afford dance classes, I just relied on what came out of my own experience as well as intermittent workshops that would come along once or twice a year.

Once I reached college and discovered that modern dance was an open class that I could actually take for credit, I signed up right away. But my excitement quickly faded as I came across fellow students who had dance experience and incredible technique that I so clearly lacked. I continued taking the class and had the option to advance, but because the next level involved a lot of improvisation and my dance vocabulary was so limited, I chose to just repeat the first level.

Again, as a singer and musician, aside from spending my senior year of high school taking drum lessons from a great instructor Dean Kransler, I had no formal training. I just had a desire to lead worship and to do it with the aid of an instrument, so I asked God to help me learn, and He made it happen. Our public library also had a great selection of instrument instructional aids, so I frequently used those as well.

Even so, my knowledge was still basic, so it took a lot of encouragement to get me to be comfortable with playing on stage alone. When you consider yourself an intermediate player, it’s very easy to talk yourself out of putting yourself on display like that, and even if you do get the guts to do it, it’s usually accompanied with a serious case of the shakes and the Big D.

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Coming to Kenya, I still carried that baggage of “Am I really a dancer?” “Can I call myself a musician?” and though I was invited to a number of churches to sing, the members of the worship teams intimidated me so much (not on purpose of course) that I typically struggled to play as freely as I could have.

It wasn’t until Ray and I found ourselves in the position of answering a call from God to teach others to use their artistic gifts to glorify Him and bring transformation to Kenyan culture that I realized I no longer had time to question the gifts God had given me. There were kids in my charge that were looking to me for instruction, and all of a sudden I became the expert.

Now I tried to throw a pity party in the beginning and asked God to find someone else to teach so I could just coordinate classes and write curriculum, but He kept persisting that He had been preparing me for this; I just needed to trust Him follow His lead. Sound familiar? Moses and I have much in common.

The hidden revealed

Surprisingly, to me… not so much to God, as I’ve been putting together lessons for classes as well as our overall curriculum, God has really been expanding my abilities and insight. Suddenly music theory is beginning to make sense, and as I grasp a concept, I’m able to package it in a way that the kids can understand, with the help of my husband who helps me tailor it to this specific culture.

Though I now am gaining the confidence to call myself an artist, I think the point of this lesson was to teach me that even before I picked up an instrument or waved my arm or sang a note, I was an artist because that’s who God designed me to be. When He created me He gave me those gifts, and no matter how little or how much time I spent developing the gift, it could never detract from who I was… who I am. The fact that I didn’t have the courage to call myself that didn’t change the fact that it was who God called me, and everything He declares is true and immutable.

Some of my favorite stories are of people who had no experience in a field God called them to, but discovered a talent or a passion that they never knew existed within. It’s those kinds of stories that ensure God gets total credit, you know? He’s the one who raised this person up for such a time, and He’ll be the one to remove the person when their time comes to an end. As long as the person chooses to simply remain a vessel the Lord can use, the possibilities are really limitless.

Ministry Update

Before I close, I want to share a quick update on our ministry. For those of you that don’t know, we’re working with a ministry called Mattaw Children’s Village here in Kitale. They have about 100 kids that they rescue and bring into a family setting to release them from the title of “orphan”. We work with 30 of their kids training them in music, vocal, dance, and drama.

Our aim is to equip them with artistic skills and mentor them as believers so that they can use their talents in evangelism and worship/prayer settings. Art is a huge component of any culture, and we believe that young people can use this particular sphere to influence many in this nation.

We have a fund raiser going on at the moment that we’d love your support in, whether it be through sharing, praying, or donating. Our fund raising site explains more about what exactly the fund raiser is for, but basically we’re hoping to acquire more instruments for our budding musicians as well as modest outfits for some of the girls that desire to learn contemporary dance.

It’s been crazy fun getting to know these wonderful kids and to see their growth as we walk through this process with them. We greatly appreciate all the of the support that we’ve received from you all, especially in the realm of prayer, and we look forward to sharing more with you in the future as these world changers utilize all that our partnership with you has made possible.

Much love!

Who’s the baby now?

There’s something about marriage that turns me into a big steaming puddle of helplessness.

When I was single I enjoyed doing things for myself.

Drain clogged? No problem, let me snake it.

Acquired a piece of do-it-yourself furniture? I did it myself.

My ’91 Saturn won’t start in the middle of winter? Okay, let me just take a wrench and bang on some stuff. Problem solved (sometimes that actually did work).

I didn’t have anyone else to rely on, so naturally, I did what I needed to do when I could do it. Of course there were some things that were beyond my capacity, for which I called the landlord or my dad or a girlfriend to come over and help me, but I always tried to do what I could before asking for help.

Fast forward to today …

“Baaaabe, I can’t open this water jug.” Then I proceed to never open a water jug again and claim that he knows I can’t open it (I can, I just don’t like to).

“Baaaabe, the bowl is too high. I’m too short. Can you get it for me?” Nevermind that when we first moved into our other house I bought a step specifically for that purpose. It was too far away, I guess.

On the phone while he’s in Bungoma and I’m home, “Baaaabe, the knob on the propane tank is stuck. I’m just not going to cook until you come back home, okay?”

I think a small part of my husband at one point enjoyed that Miss Independent was finally becoming a little dependent… in the beginning,  but nowadays even Ray is getting to the point where he asks, “How did you survive when you lived by yourself? I thought you were more independent than this.”

Apparently it’s some kind of phenomenon that happens with women that get used to being around their husbands 24/7. He’s always there to do stuff for you, so you become reliant on that fact… a little too reliant.

Time to make a change

Ray is one of the most accommodating people I know, sometimes to a fault. I used to claim that one reason I was so good for him was because I would jealously guard his time if I felt like people were taking advantage of him. He has such a good heart he’ll help anyone and then wonder why he’s so emotionally drained later. And now look who’s taking advantage. This is bad news bears.

So now I’m declaring independence, well a balance of dependence and independence. I know what happens when I try to be too independent (amoebiasis flashbacks, anyone?), so I’m not aiming for that, but dag. I really do need to find myself a pair of big girl pants and run my pacifier through a paper shredder, ‘cuz a Proverbs 31 woman I ain’t.

If any of you have some helpful tips/advice here, I’m all ears!

More interesting facts about Kenya – VoCaB eDiTiOn

It’s been a while since my last factoid based post, but I figured I’d go ahead and make good on my promise to continue the “interesting facts about Kenya” series. The list is pretty much endless, so as I’m able I will make more of these and focus on different areas (i.e. weddings, security, education, or any other area you’d like to know about).

This time I’m going to just focus on vocabulary:

The following words mean something other than you may think

Smart

  • Americans may think – intellectual aptitude

smart

  • Kenyans think – good looking or dressed well (it’s a compliment to either sex)

smart2

Paper bag

  • Americans may think of the brown paper bags that are made from trees

paper bag

  • Kenyans think plastic bags – yes, when they say paper bag they really mean plastic (of course it goes without saying that they don’t ask if you want paper or plastic in the grocery stores)

Inside Kenyan Supermarket Chain Nakumatt

Hotel

  • Americans may think of the place where you temporarily sleep outside of your home

best western

  • Kenyans think of a small street side restaurant where you can get local food really cheap (hotels here can also be overnight lodging, but they usually refer to small eateries)

hotel

Blow dry/flat iron

  • Americans may think blow drying is prep before straightening your hair with a flat iron.

blowdryer

  • Kenyans think blow drying is straightening and flat ironing is curling.

005223-SB1

The first time I visited a local salon (or saloon as some call it) I asked if the lady could flat iron my hair.

“We don’t have that here.”

I then had to ask a different way, “Can you straighten my hair?”

“Oh, you mean blow dry?”

“You don’t straighten after you blow dry?”

“Blow drying is straightening.”

“Oh, okay. Let’s try that then.”

Real talk, I’ve never had anyone get my kinky natural hair straighter than ladies here do. They wash your hair, take a blow dryer through it, go through it again with a tiny comb or a hot comb (which is heated by the blow dryer), then they add a little oil and go through it again. Natural people will know what I mean by this, but even though it sounds like a lot of heat, I have total curl retention afterwards. Genius.

One of these days we’ll try to record it so my natural folks can see what I’m talking about.

“That’s okay.”

  • Americans think it means “No, thanks. You don’t have to.”

thanks

  • Kenyans think it means, “Yes, please. That is fine.”

more

“Isn’t it?”

  • Americans use it when speaking in the singular (i.e. Sledding is fun, isn’t it?)
  • Kenyans use it regardless of singular or plural (i.e. We all like to sled. Isn’t it?). When they say isn’t it, they mean something to the effect of “is it not true?”

“Pick”

  • When speaking of getting something or someone, Americans follow it with a preposition masking as an adverb (i.e. I need to pick up some things from the store.).
  • Kenyans don’t follow it with anything (i.e. I need to pick my dog from the kennel.).

Of course there are tons more incongruities between American English and British/Kenyan English, but I tried to pick some of the not-so common ones that we come across on a frequent basis.

Hope you enjoyed. 🙂

 

This journey is our own

Comparison is a lot like the game Spoons. You can never keep your eyes fixed only on what’s in your hand, and someone always ends up getting hurt (at least when you play Spoons with my family).

Valentine’s Day woes

A few days after Valentine’s Day I posted a blog at She Is Set Apart about the way the lover’s holiday used to cause problems for me as a single person and still does even though I’m now married.

When I was single, using Facebook on Valentine’s Day was difficult because everyone was either posting pictures of their amazing gifts – making me feel bad because I didn’t have any, getting engaged – reminding me that I didn’t have someone to propose to me, or sending me “cheer up, you don’t suck that bad… at least Jesus loves you” posts – which I guess were meant to encourage me as a single woman.

Now that I’m married all I see is competition, oneupmanship. Hundreds of women claiming their husband is the best and sharing all the ways he spoiled her, making hundreds of other women instantaneously lift their expectations of their husband so that when he comes home with a single rose and box of chocolates, she’s looking at him like “That’s it? You hate me, don’t you?”

Long story short, the conclusion I came to on the blog post and in life is that my jealousy is an indicator that my Christian love tank is probably running on low. If I had the love of Christ living inside of me like it should, I should be rejoicing with my sisters and brothers because of the gifts they received. There is no room for jealousy and comparison in love.

Same story, different season

You may be wondering what my point is considering Valentine’s Day was over a month ago. Well, I bringt it up because the comparison struggle has started again but for a totally different reason: babies.

Since we had our miscarriage, just about every single friend that I have back home has announced that they’re pregnant or they’re already pregnant or they recently had a baby. I kid you not, this is true of at least 80% of my close friends.

It can be really hard to think that I was supposed to be on that ship, fell overboard, and now am treading water as the ship sails on. Without me.

As I scroll through my news feed, here we go again with a million baby pictures and birth announcements. It would be so easy for Ray and I to become upset because we had gotten so close to becoming parents, and sometimes I think we both do feel a twinge of envy, but aside from learning how to love others and truly rejoice with them in these wonderful gifts that God is giving them, God has really been giving us a new perspective to tread these murky waters.

Breathing under water

See, at this point in our lives we may not be on our way to parenthood and we don’t know when God will give us the go ahead with that, but with what felt like a tidal wave crashing over us, we’ve discovered that the undercurrent is actually pulling us deeper into our dreams. At this point in our lives we are able to pursue all that God puts on our hearts with total abandonment. The Joshua Blueprint has become our baby.

We’re in a similar position to where I was as a single person. Because I wasn’t in a relationship I was able to get involved in numerous ministries, go on lots of mission trips, and mentor a lot of kids. Now that I’m married I’ve lost some of that freedom, but I’ve discovered new potential in the partnership I have with my husband. Now, as one unit, we can dive into all that God has set before us and accomplish more together than I ever could on my own. The beauty of it all is that we can maintain this perspective through every phase that we’ll go through in life. As we begin to build our family we’ll gain revelation on how we can continue to pursue what God puts on our hearts but in a different way. My friend Kimberly Huffman has a great post about what that looks like as a mother of seven on the mission field. You can check it out here.

That being said, every phase of life looks different. We’re only in the second phase right now and we don’t necessarily plan to be in this phase as long as I stayed in the single phase, but who knows? Maybe God will keep us here for a while so we can spend more time branching out and experiencing new foundational aspects of His vision for us.

Whatever His plan is, our hearts say yes.

I do, but I don’t

Complex.

That’s the word the majority of men would use to describe women: complicated and hard to understand/deal with.

As complex as I know I normally am in my husband’s eyes, my behavior as of late has even got me to the point of wanting to step outside of myself and be like, “Um, I’m not with her”.

Oh, the valley of indecision

In an earlier post I shared a bit about how much I value quality time with myself and that life in Kitale has not been making nice with my personal goals. Ray and I were home together all the time and really rubbing each other the wrong way.

“We need space!” I shouted at his face.

So Ray obliged and began to take on some long distance jobs that would cause him to be gone 2-4 days at a time.

“Come back,” I whispered to the door… then of course I gave Ray the silent treatment for not taking me with him, which made him think I needed more space, but silent treatment obviously means that I want you to talk to me. Duh!

I don’t know what I want.

Do I want space? Yes, but not as much as I once thought.

Do I want Ray around? Of course. As much as I love being with myself, it’s become awkward to laugh at my own jokes without Ray’s laugh to accompany my own.

Do I want to travel? Indubitably. Whether alone or with Ray, I’d rather be outside of the confines of our home.

So my point is …

Pray for Ray.

 

Give it another day

There are moments within the bonds of marriage that one begins to wish the ropes weren’t so tight. You look at your spouse and all you can imagine is how much better your life might be without him. At the very same moment he may be wishing the same. Emotionally drained and too tired to see beyond whatever the injustice was that caused your heart to change, you have a decision to make… to stay or not to stay.

We encountered this scene our first year of marriage a number of times, but it was generally caused by the tension that comes from the initial shock of discovering that your life is not your own anymore. That was to be expected. To tell you the truth, once we got through the first year of marriage, we both gave each other a hearty pat on the back and said, “That wasn’t so bad.” After hearing the ominous cries of “Beware the ides of the first year,” we assumed if that was as bad as it would get, the rest should be fairly smooth sailing.

The devil is a lie.

Moving out to western where we had to start over financially, make new friends, and be together literally 24/7 proved to be much more difficult than we thought. I don’t know if anyone’s done research on this, but when two people are cooped up in the same house day after day with nowhere to go and no one else to see BUT your spouse, it’s like the air becomes stagnant and there are times you could almost swear you’re suffocating. Some of you know the feeling, so you also know what inevitably follows… *ding ding* it’s time to fight.

And fight we did. All … the … time. There were a number of times that we would just sit and look at each other wondering, “What happened? Why is it that year two suddenly became so hard?” Well, we forgot to take into account that all of the things that helped keep us stable in Nairobi, an amazing church, great friends, separate working spaces, and designated date nights were gone now. We had to start over. New church, new friends, new everything.

I make fun of my husband for being a creature of habit, but apparently I become a creature from hell when I’m pulled from the routines I’ve pacified myself with for some time. The first month we lived in Kitale, everything Ray would or would not do would tick me off, and I would pick fights over anything just because. Sometimes I was very much aware that my argument was irrational, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to fight. In the midst of those moments, I often found myself wondering, “Are you going to let it go or are you going to let it fester?”

There are times that everything within me wants to hold on to my anger, but when I choose to dwell in that moment and let those thoughts fester into bitterness, it’s bad news for everyone. The moment I say yes to bitterness, the nastiest comments from the pit of hell coming dripping off my tongue or this urge to leave the house and run to God knows where comes up and the next thing I know I’m standing by the gate. I would probably actually leave the house more often if I wasn’t afraid of the wild dogs and men outside, but there are times when it almost doesn’t matter. When bitterness is in control, I am totally out of control, and I hate that feeling.

We’ve been reading through Paul’s letters to the churches lately and I’ve been reading the book of James in my personal devotions and they’re totally tag-teaming on ripping me a new one. The greatest challenge that has been surfacing from those books for me is to live by the Spirit. I have the very essence of the living God dwelling inside of me prompting me to travel the path away from the cancer of bitterness, and yet my flesh compels me to live in the moment and get everything out so I’ll feel better. Funny thing is, I often believe the proclamations of my flesh over those of the Spirit, but not once have I actually felt better once I’ve torn my husband down or tried to run away.

Why can’t I remember in that moment the last time I yielded to the Spirit instead and discovered that Ray and I were able to quickly reconcile and restore peace in our marriage? When did my emotions dethrone Christ and become king?

Wake up calls like this are happening for me much more often now and I thank God for each and every one. I’ve seen what happens to marriages when unforgiveness and bitterness take root, and I refuse to allow that to even be an option for this marriage. As much as I may feel in that moment of tension that this is it and I’m done, I’m learning to breathe deep of the Holy Spirit as I breathe out my anger and to give it another day.

Though Ray and I have committed to love and stay married to one another until death do us part, all we can really do is take it day by day and continually submit ourselves and our relationship into God’s hands. If my anger wants to convince me to do otherwise, my response must be to give it another day, and as long as I incline my ear to the whispers of the Holy Spirit, the next day is always much brighter than the last.

2015: a year of rest

Without going into the age old description of how horrible the human race is at keeping new year’s resolutions, I still believe that it’s important to at least set them. I could turn this into a “10 ways to keep your resolutions this year” post, but frankly hundreds of other bloggers are already doing that, and you would probably want to get that kind of advice from someone who has actually kept their resolution longer than a month.

“Not I,” says I.

Hold me accountable, please

But I will say that accountability is probably one of the biggest factors I’ve found to help me stick to my resolutions. Back in my single days, most sessions I had with accountability partners were more like confessionals. Instead of really pushing each other to keep going, we would just gather to confess how we were failing. Thanks to my friend Dana, I realized that that’s not accountability. Accountability is when you ensure that the other person is sticking to what they said they would do. Yes, we should confess our failings, but if that’s all we’re going to do, we’re not helping each other at all.

In that wise, Ray has been a great support for me. Leave it to the person who is around you 24/7 to constantly call you out when you’re “cheating”. We’re big believers in goal setting, so we’ve been practicing this whole resolution keeping thing throughout the year. I’m hoping that this year we can continue to help each other make our resolutions stick.

I will rest in you

Though we’ve created a list of new year’s resolutions related to our family, ministry, and business, we have one overarching resolution to govern them all: rest.

Just to clarify, we’re not talking about the kind of rest that means to take time for yourselves, relax, and temporarily forget about the chaos of life. We’re talking about the kind of rest that is totally aware of the chaos but remains rooted and grounded in faith. The kind of rest that says “Even in the midst of this storm, I know God’s got this so I don’t have to be anxious.” You know, the kind of rest that allowed Jesus to sleep on a boat that was being violently tossed by the sea while his disciples were nearly at the brink of insanity.

This is the kind of rest that we want to live in for the rest of our lives, but especially as we step into this new year.

Here comes the rain again

See, as this year begins so will an increased amount of craziness for the Wasike tribe.

In just a few days from now, our ministry The Joshua Blueprint will officially begin at Mattaw, which means lots of curriculum writing, lesson planning, three day weekly classes, and of course trying to match the energy level of nearly 50 students.

Joshua Blueprint Dance

We’ve also started a photography and videography business in Kitale that specializes in documentaries for missionaries (among other things), so we will spend most weekends and our off days from Mattaw working on things for the business.

Wasike Creations Interview

On top of all of that we’re planning a trip to the States in August, saving up for a vehicle, and trying again at some point for a baby.

But praise God for that blessed assurance

This would normally be the point where ordinarily my right eye would begin to twitch involuntarily, but that’s where the resolution comes in:

If no one hires us for the next three months, we will choose to live in rest.

If we find ourselves working more than sleeping, we will choose to live in rest.

If the classes turn out differently than expected, we will choose to live in rest.

If our trip to the States is delayed or denied, we will choose to live in rest.

If the conception of a baby occurs in the middle of it all, we will choose to live in rest.

Though we pray that God brings us times of refreshing when we can take breaks and allow our hearts to be rejuvenated, our greatest prayer is that as we keep our minds on Christ and our trust in him, he will keep us in perfect peace. Thankfully, because he’s already promised in his word that he will do just that, all that is left for us to do is rest.

Our greatest challenges: one year later

Unlike the other posts in our challenges and triumphs series, I (Sam) will be the only one writing this one. The window of time we had to post this didn’t allow Ray enough time to get his thoughts compiled. This is the second part to the post: Triumphs: one year later.

Challenge 1: Adjusting to each others’ schedules

Routine. At times it can be monotonously boring, but most of the time it can be the one thing that makes our lives sane. From the beginning of our marriage we’ve sought to establish routines in various aspects of our lives: goal setting, biblical togetherness, weekend quality time, and so on. Kenya can be an extremely unpredictable place, so as much as is possible, we try to maintain a certain level of sanity by keeping whatever we can nailed down.

When Ray was working in Nairobi city, we lived in Rongai – a sort of suburb of Nairobi, I knew that he would be getting up around 5am so that he could catch a matatu early enough to keep from getting stuck in traffic. A trip that should take 20 minutes can end up being two hours if you don’t time it right. Because Ray knows the general ebb and flow of the city and appropriately planned around it, I always knew he would be in the city all day and come home around dinnertime. Whenever Ray knew something would delay him, he made sure to call and let me know so I could plan accordingly. We had a sweet little system going on.

That was our routine. That kept me sane.

Then his office moved from the city to Rongai which meant he’d be closer, he wouldn’t be away from home as long, and I didn’t have to worry about his safety as much (during that time Kenya was experiencing an alarming number of public attacks by Al-Shabbab, and Nairobi was a major target). Before Ray went to work at his new location, we went over what our new schedule would be and we both agreed that it would be better for us.

For a while it was.

Then the time came when a filming opportunity landed in our laps, and it thrust us into plans for starting our own business. As our home-grown business began to expand and his responsibilities at his other job decreased, he started staying around the house longer.

We share a laptop, and normally when he’s gone I’m on the laptop doing work (writing, transcribing, researching, etc.). Most days when I would wake up, he would still be home on the laptop and either wouldn’t go to the office until the afternoon or wouldn’t go in at all. As far as he was concerned, he was working from home too.

That had me all sorts of screwed up. We hadn’t planned this! That was supposed to be my time! Now because he was home there was an expectation that I would make breakfast or lunch for him and engage in conversation, when I was used to just going to the closest duka to buy mandazi to snack on while I worked. As much as I enjoyed the fact that I could spend more time with my husband, it wasn’t part of the original plan, and trying to balance work and a daily schedule that changed on a daily basis was really frying my brain.

That was a huge point of contention when we lived in Nairobi the first year, but even now that we’re in Kitale and around each other all the live long day, we’re having the same issue. We’re having to come up with new routines. We’re about halfway there. We’ve established when each person is to have their quiet time and when we have ours as a couple, and we also have tried to set times for the laptop so that he uses it until I wake up, and I use it throughout the night (I usually go to sleep when he’s waking up).

As for what happens between that… we’re still working it out.

Challenge 2: Resolving Conflict

Every couple argues, and life in the Wasike household is no exception. We have had our fair share of disagreements. Be the reason emotions, culture, negative attitudes, or just flat out stubbornness and pride, we typically find ourselves coming to the same conclusion: there is no conclusion.

See, what happens is when we find ourselves in the midst of a disagreement, things tend to escalate to the point of me shouting or becoming a little too sharp with my tongue, and Ray shuts down. He hates it when I raise my voice and it hurts him to be on the receiving end of some of the snide remarks I make, so generally when we reach that point he’ll stop talking or I’ll run out of words (it happens sometimes) and we’ll go our separate ways.

A few weeks or even months later, what do you know? The issue is back in our faces and the cycle repeats. We’ve since discovered, closer to the latter part of our first year, that the culprit behind the cycle is the fact that once we cooled down, we never closed the case. We allowed each other to state our closing arguments, but we never agreed on a verdict.

Truth of the matter is, our arguments don’t have to reach a fever pitch in order for us to forget that the issue hasn’t been resolved. Even if it’s over something small, sometimes we both share our opinions and we mistake the other person’s “Yes, I hear what you’re saying; that does make sense” for “Yes, you’re right. You’re always right. Let’s do what you want.” Then when the time comes for the matter we argued about to come to fruition, we realize that we both came away from the conversation with different ideas about our game plan.

Even in our second year of marriage, we’re still finding this to be an issue, so we have to make sure that after an argument, once we’ve both cooled down, one of us comes to the other and says, “Okay, so what are we going to do about this? What’s our conclusion?” Usually I let Ray be the one to state the final conclusion because frankly I do enough talking during arguments, and he needs to feel like he has a voice and the final say so in matters.

He’s really good about coming up with the resolution based on what we both brought to the table, so he usually gets no objections from me, but even if I have objections, I’m learning how to know when to let go. I don’t always have to win, the humble voice of the Holy Spirit is whispering “Actually, you never have to win.” I’m recognizing that sometimes I can be so concerned with being right that I can beat a point to death and do a number on my husband’s emotions as well.

What matters is that we’re in agreement, and the more I learn to humble myself, the better chance we’ll have of that being a reality in our marriage.

 

Our take on the question “Why does Sam have to put everything on the internet?”

For a while now, actually since Ray and I began this blog, we’ve caught wind here and there that some people felt as though we were making too much of our personal information available to the general public. The majority of the complaints have come from the Kenyan side, and we totally realize that it’s simply because Kenyan culture is very conservative in terms of privacy, so to help clarify things, we decided to post this blog to help people understand how things roll in our AmeriKenyan world.

We believe that confession is good for the soul and the body (of Christ)

A number of years ago I co-wrote a book with Shelley Hitz about Christian women and sexual addiction. The entire first chapter of the book was about confession and the importance of exposing those things we like to hide in the dark. Transparency in the church is a matter that is very dear to my heart. I’ve experienced and seen the freedom that comes when we confess our issues to one another, and sadly enough I’ve also seen the pain that results from people keeping their issues a secret until everything falls out into the open in a pretty scandalous way.

Though some people may complain about what I share in my blogs, three times as many people will comment or private message or email me and tell me that what I shared touched them in a personal way. And that, my friends, is what transparency in the church is supposed to be about. When we share tough times we’re going through with our brothers and sisters, we not only allow others into our life to support us in prayer, as we’re encouraged to do in scripture (James 5:16), but we encourage others to come forward and share their struggles too.

It’s important to note as well that I’m also a firm believer in sharing a testimony but not getting too raunchy with the details. We don’t mind sharing our struggles, but no one needs/wants to know the nitty gritty details, and we really don’t offer them in the blog.

I have given the hubsters veto power

No matter how “married” I am to an idea, it will never trump my husband’s right to say no. Everything I post is tempered by his wisdom. Before I post a blog, unless it’s a guest post for another site, Ray always reads and edits what I’ve written. There have been many times where he’s asked me to take entire paragraphs out because I’m sharing too much or my tone is a little too negative, and there have even been times when I shared an idea for a topic and he nixed it all together.  Even this particular post had to undergo heavy editing before he let me publish it.

We’ve had this routine since day one, so I always know that if I put something out there it’s something that we both agreed on and neither one of us will be embarrassed by it. That’s very important to me. I may not be able to appease everyone else and their desires concerning this blog, but as long as there’s unity between my husband and me, I’m straight.

What you see is what you get

One of the main reasons I write this blog is to keep my friends back home updated on what’s happening here. It’s more in depth than a Facebook status and it’s easier than sending long emails or personal messages to all of them. I know to our Kenyan readers (about 30% of our followers) it seems like I’m saying a lot more than I should, but honestly the same transparency in my writing is what my relationships with friends back in the States look like. I don’t say anything here that I wouldn’t say amongst friends.

You said it, now do it

Part of what I love about writing about certain issues we struggle with is that putting it out there provides major accountability for us. Because we know that 200 people read a post where we said we struggled with such and such and we want to do such and such about it, we have a greater reason to stick to what we said we’d do. Neither of us like to be called hypocrites, let alone act like one, so we really try our best to follow through on our words.

My initial confession that led to me writing that book with Shelley also happened on the Internet, and the fact that I not only exposed my sin but that I did it in the view of 700 people at the time gave me the extra push I needed to commit to staying free from it. It may not work for everyone, but social media is great accountability for me.

These are but the fringes

Ray and I both want to write books. I want to write a book for single ladies about the uncomfortable truths of marriage, like the ones people never tell you until after the fact, and Ray and I both want to write a book about intercultural marriage because there were literally three good books on that topic when we scoured the web for resources at the onset of our relationship. These goals are hanging somewhere in the mid-distant future, but the same transparency that we portray in this blog is what we aim to pour into whatever books we write in the future.

Parting Words

All in all, we feel that the positives totally outweigh the negatives concerning our transparency, so though we appreciate those that are concerned, we feel that we’re in a good place. We have some great mentors in our lives that throughout the life of the blog have given us green lights. If these mentors ever caution us, you can believe that we’ll reconsider what we share.

Now that that’s over, let me get started on the blog post about our greatest difficulties during our first year of marriage …

Much love,