Before I had kids…

Before I had kids…

…I don’t remember anything. OK. I’m exaggerating, but only slightly.  I remember a few things about life before kids – I remember…

~ Oh what’s that thing called – where you get to close your eyes and lay in your bed all night without waking up to a crying child or a toddler in your bed? – Right. SLEEP. I vaguely remember sleep.

~ Being able to do something, any task without being interrupted about 87 times…again vaguely.

~ Not having to pack a diaper bag or make sure I have all the kids stuff in my purse…even more vaguely.

~ Eating a whole meal without sharing half of it with my toddler…this is VERY vague – I don’t think I’ve eaten a whole meal by myself in a VERY long time.

~ Being able to go to the bathroom without a) my toddler/baby in the room b) my toddler/baby screaming outside the bathroom door or c) rushing like a crazy person so that I can make sure the kids aren’t about to hurt themselves or each other. This memory is hanging by a thread.

The good side…

~ I remember being a lot more selfish. Having kids will beat the ‘selfish’ right out of you (almost – no one’s perfect, except my Mom 😉 ). Having kids forces you not to think about yourself very much at all – because there’s no time to! It’s a demanding job but it’s a rewarding one and I believe becoming ‘Mommy’ has made me a better person in general. Being a mom is truly the most amazingly demanding and exhilarating job in the world.

Before I had kids…

~ I remember my heart being more… empty. I never knew my heart could be this full. Even with all the lack of sleep, personal space, and silence – my heart is FULL – bursting with a love I didn’t know could be this strong. And that makes it MORE than worth it when I have to deal with a tantrum, or a little person watching me pee, or getting pooped on. 🙂

 

Do you remember life before your children?  Do you really miss it? Let’s be honest – we wouldn’t trade it for anything! Sure we miss some of the luxuries of life before kids, but we also know that they grow up in a blink of an eye, and if we spend too much time complaining it’ll be over – they’ll be all grown up and we’ll be missing the days when they were more dependant on us as parents. So while everyone needs a good vent once in a while, don’t spend too much time there; enjoy these moments when they’re small and things are crazy because you’ll blink and they’ll be gone.

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That Kind of Legacy…

I want to leave behind a legacy. I think most people do.  Some kind of legacy – something to be remembered for. I think it’s a natural desire within us as humans. We want to make an impact on this world. We want to do something worth people talking about long after we’re gone – though it can be hard to plan your legacy. It just doesn’t really work that way. I think the best way to live – is to live your life to the fullest, following God with ALL your heart and being as faithful a person as you can be – and leave the rest to God. If you love God with all you have and love people with all you have – you will be remembered, count on it, because love these days, true love is harder and harder to find. But it’s what God asks us to do. To love Him. To love our neighbour. To love our enemy. That is the kind of legacy I believe God wants to help us leave. One that spurs on others to the same sort of legacy. A legacy of a powerful love and of a steadfast faith.

My husband’s grandfather passed away a few days ago. He was 110 years old. (Seriously). He lived a LONG and fruitful life and he has definitely left behind a legacy of faith. One that will be impacting people for years to come, I’m sure. He saw a lot in his life; lived through the colonization of Kenya and Kenya’s gaining of independence. He had a large family – 13 kids if I remember correctly and was married to one woman who passed away quite a number of years ago now. He has many grandchildren and great grandchildren living all around Kenya and other parts of the world.

I remember the first time I met this man. It was when I was in my first year of Bible College in Kenya and we took a trip (a couple other Canadians, myself and some friends – including my future hubby) to Kisii. Kisii is beautiful – all green and rolling hills and the air is clean and clear. At the time “Sokoro” (Grandfather in Kisii) was about 102 or so but he was bright and strong and sharp. He still walked everywhere in the village, still lived alone, took care of himself completely. And I’ll never forget the way he prayed for us. I always remember Sokoro’s prayers. (He prays for us every time we visit). I can’t understand much Kisii but there is something about the tone of his prayers; quiet but strong, simple but meaningful, powerful and authentic. You can tell he knows this God he’s praying to intimately. You can tell he’s a man of prayer and that he trusts God wholeheartedly. He was a man of faith. Plain and simple. And he was and continues to be an inspiration to his family and everyone who knew him. He might not have travelled widely  – but I know he touched many lives in his 110 years on earth.

Sokoro, you will be missed but we know you are now dancing with Jesus and I have no doubt continuing to intercede in prayer for your family. Rest now for you have run your race well.

I have always liked the song, “Legacy” by Nichole Nordeman. I want to leave the kind of legacy she talks about in this song. Just like Sokoro. You can listen to the song by clicking on the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KEe-dA3a4M

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” ~ Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

I Am Canadian and I Choose Hope Instead of Fear

It was extremely surreal to turn on CNN last night here in Mwanza, Tanzania and see BREAKING NEWS of a shooting in CANADA! I almost didn’t believe it at first! Things like this just don’t happen in Canada! Canada rarely makes it onto CNN breaking news!  But despite my disbelief, there it was, right in front of me. A shooting in our nation’s capital. It’s still sinking in, a day later.

I am truly saddened by the events in Ottawa yesterday. I’m heartbroken for the family of the Soldier who was killed so senselessly. I pray for them in this time of incredible grief. I am also praying for our leaders at this time. They need wisdom and courage – these are increasingly difficult times to be a leader of a nation.

However, despite all the shock and sadness and questioning – I am just reminding myself that God is still sovereign. This attack did not take Him by surprise. At the same time I know He has not and will not forget Canada or any other part of the world for that matter. When horrible things happen it’s easy to blame God or to use them as reasons for why He is not a loving God or why He is not caring etc. But the truth is, we live in an evil world. Bad things have happened, are happening and will continue to happen. I am convinced that they break God’s heart even more than ours. His love for us is still as real as ever. He has not left us or forgotten us. He is with us. Always. When awful things like this happen it’s a reminder to reach out to Him for peace, comfort and security.

There is no point in living in fear because of what’s happening in the world. I find it ironic in a way – since many people have expressed their concerns and worry about us living in Africa because “it’s dangerous.” But yesterday’s events show that it’s not about where you live – you can’t escape all danger, all the time. While it’s good to be vigilant and careful, it’s also good to live a free and exciting and happy life. We can’t let these events allow us to live in fear. Danger is potentially everywhere – you can’t escape it. Peace comes from knowing who holds your life. I know that whether I’m in Canada or in Tanzania, God has my life in His hands and I trust Him completely. I refuse to live my life in fear of what “might happen.” I choose to live my life to the fullest – making decisions not based on fear but based on hope. Just as Prime Minister Steven Harper said of Canada, “We will not be intimidated…” let’s also personally choose to say, we will not be intimidated.

Live your life. Spread hope and joy not fear. Look for the helpers and heroes amidst the chaos of events like yesterday.

“When you can’t trace God’s hand, trust His heart.” 

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Life With Boys – Help, I’m Surrounded!

It’s just me. I’m all my myself. The only girl in my house. I have two little boys and one big boy (AKA my husband).  My house is filled with cars, trains, trucks, noise and dirt. My most watched TV shows include: Bob the Builder, Cars (the movie) and Thomas the Train. I don’t do many girly things, instead I play cars (or more accurately crash them and make exploding noises), clean up pee from the bathroom floor (or the couch as it happens this morning, while I was changing my youngest and left him uncovered for a matter of seconds) and put down the toilet seat. And I love it. Life with boys is certainly never boring…or quiet. 😉 (I’m convinced boys do not have “inside voices”).

My boys are still young and so of course I’m still learning every day new things about having boys. But so far I have learned a few things along the way that have saved me a lot of worrying and stress. (Once I’ve accepted them).

Life with boys is rough.

Band-aids are a must!

Band-aids are a must! (photo credit: http://www.scarymommy.com)

It’s all about how FAST they can go – with their eyes closed – on one leg. I’ve learned to expect injuries and not get too too worried (unless of course they’re really serious). I’ve learned not to make a big deal when they hurt themselves as most of the time they’re watching for your reaction before they decide how badly they’re hurt and how much they’ll cry. If you play it low-key and just say, “You’re OK. Brush it off!”  9/10 times they’ll do just that. And while I still say “Be Careful!” several times a day, it’s now just become more of a habit – I know they won’t really be careful, but I just want to say it so when they hurt themselves, I can say, “Well I told you to be careful and this is why.” 🙂 (This includes my hubby by the way who is a big kid and a big risk taker).

Life with boys is messy. 

(Photo Credit: www.ideluca.com)

(Photo Credit: http://www.ideluca.com)

Boys are like little tornadoes (who become big ones when they grow up). They blow through the house at crazy speeds and leave wreckage in a trail behind them. They don’t do anything slowly or quietly or carefully. It’s all about speed, volume and excitement. There is no point in trying to change this. It’s part of who they are. And the sooner I accepted this, the less stressed I was about all the ‘wreckage.’

Life with boys is all about competition. Everything and I do mean EVERYTHING is a competition for a boy. (Young and old). Even if it’s not initially a competition – it will become one. And I’ve learned they actually respond better and cooperate more when you make things a competition. “I bet you can’t beat me up the stairs for a shower!” It works. Trust me. If you have a boy, get used to using this line, “I bet you can’t…..” (fill in the blank, with anything and everything).

Life with boys is entertaining.

My oldest and myself being silly

My oldest and myself being silly

 They are constantly trying out new things, being silly and goofing around. Now while I’ll admit sometimes this can be annoying, frustrating and tiring – it is also usually quite entertaining. I laugh a lot and that’s a good thing.

Life with boys is very open and free…(and what I mean by this is that they like to be naked whenever possible). 

Our youngest chillin' in his diaper :)

Our youngest chillin’ in his diaper 🙂

My family used to make fun because every time we would Skype my oldest would never being wearing pants. Thats’ just how it was. I get them dressed when we leave the house, ok?

Life with boys is slightly disgusting at times.  Boys can be gross, it’s just a fact. For some reason they find disgusting things interesting and endlessly amusing. Farting is ALWAYS funny, case in point. And this starts from a VERY young age, before they can even speak. They like dirt and making a mess. They like playing with their food, they like anything that explodes and they like talking about poop (and all other bathroom talk).

Life with boys is an adventure.

My husband getting some exercise and entertaining our son at the same time.

My husband getting some exercise and entertaining our son at the same time.

It is never boring or mundane. It is fun and full of life and discovery. I love being a mom to boys. It certainly has its challenging moments (that’s true of motherhood in general) but the good out-weighs the bad by far.

 

We laugh, a lot.

We laugh, a lot.

I’m outnumbered in my house and while sometimes I do just wish for another girl to share some girly things with, I am extremely happy and quite enjoy all that comes along with life with my boys.  🙂

:)

🙂

What I have missed about living in Tanzania

When you live in Africa, many people from the West assume there must be so many things you miss about ________ (in my case, Canada) while you live overseas. And yes, while I’ll admit I do miss some things, other than PEOPLE (family, friends etc.) most of them are just small conveniences that make life a little easier (nicely paved roads, fast internet, very few power outages, etc.). Living in Tanzania I learn on a  daily basis what I really “need” to live a happy and full life – and it’s not that much. I am incredibly blessed for what I have and I am reminded of that every day.

I lived in Tanzania for two years, then we went back to Canada for 7 months and now we’re back in Tanzania for who knows how long – the foreseeable future for sure. Coming back for the second time after spending an extended time in Canada has caused me to see some things with fresh eyes again and appreciate them more. Here’s my list of what I have missed about living in Tanzania and am now enjoying since moving back here.

1. The food.

I do NOT miss all the fast food, quick fix, microwavable food in Canada. While I may have enjoyed eating some of it, mostly it made me feel bloated and yucky all the time. I always say – there is just TOO MUCH FOOD in Canada. Too many choices, endless options – most of them bad for my health. I am enjoying eating much simpler here in Tanzania. Very few processed foods, more natural choices, less variety but more consistency which is serving my health much better. I’m sure my body thanks me. I feel a lot better by the way too! And my wallet feels better too – as many of the natural fruits and vegetables and staple foods here are found in markets and are inexpensive, compared to trying to “eat healthy” in Canada where it can cost you a small fortune for fresh produce. 😉

2. A culture of Respect.

Respect is very important here. It is built right into the language. “Shikamo” is a common Swahili greeting here that shows respect. It is used when you are speaking to anyone in authority, or anyone who is older than you, or anyone whom you respect. It literally means, “I hold your feet.” Showing respect here is a valued part of daily life and I actually quite admire it. Children are taught from a very young age about respect because it’s just such an innate part of this culture. Respect is always a good idea; everyone has a need to feel respected and valued. I admire Tanzanian culture because of the way they place so much value on respect.

3. The Climate.

This is an obvious one. The weather! Can I say it loud and clear– I DEFINITELY do NOT miss WINTER! At all. Not even a little bit. You say, “not even at Christmas?!” And I say, I can look at pictures of beautiful snowy landscapes around Christmas Time. 🙂 I am loving the weather especially here in Mwanza. Dar es Salaam was quite humid and hot which was not ideal (though preferred to winter). However, Mwanza is just right. Warm, but not nearly so humid, cool in the mornings and evenings especially now during the raining season. It’s literally my ideal climate here. And it is just beautiful – Mwanza is right on Lake Victoria and there are such gorgeous views.

Sunset on Lake Victoria

Sunset on Lake Victoria

Beautiful Lake View

Beautiful Lake View

 

4. The “Slower” Pace.

I say, “slower” because the longer I live over here the more I think our crazy, busy, pack every minute, pace in the West is just a bit too much! So while the pace here might be viewed by outsiders as “slow” I think maybe it’s a more natural, healthy pace to life. I’ll admit – at first, coming from Canada to here, the change of pace can be frustrating. But once you have gotten used to it and changed your expectations accordingly, it’s really quite nice. Instead of being frustrated by how long seemingly simple tasks can take, I choose to be thankful and to relax; it’s a bit relieving actually. It takes the pressure off. No one is expecting you to accomplish 10 tasks a day from your “To Do List” (or even 3 for that matter). No one will care if you are half an hour (or 2 hours) late for a meeting or event – that’s just life. There’s traffic and unforeseen obstacles that eat up time and everyone is ok with that. You will only be frustrated if you expect to accomplish everything you would do in a typical day in Canada, here. But if you expect to just do what you can and move at the pace everyone else is moving, you’ll enjoy!

5. The Sense of Community.

I do love the sense of being part of a bigger community here. Everyone looks out for one another. Children are everyone’s responsibility, babies get passed around to everyone, you’re expected to help others, but they are also expected to help you when you’re in need. The idea is, “It’s not me in need of help today, but it could be me tomorrow – so I’ll lend a helping hand.” Coming from a much more individualistic culture (which of course has its advantages too), I find this refreshing.

6. The Singing.

Music and singing and dancing are a big part of most African cultures and I personally really enjoy it. People here sing all the time – when they’re working, when they’re walking down the street, when they meet in groups, at church, in homes. And you don’t have to be a great singer – no one judges you. EVERYONE sings. 🙂

7. Learning a new Language.

I am enjoying being submersed in Swahili again and continuing to learn. Learning a new language is challenging, but it’s also very rewarding – and being able to communicate with people here in THEIR language is wonderful! People appreciate that you have taken time to learn how to communicate in a way they can understand, and you in turn get to know people on a different level when you can communicate directly with them in their own language. In Mwanza there is very little English used, so I am learning quickly and I am thankful for that. The best way to learn is just to jump right in!

8. Bartering.

I have missed bartering at the markets, in shops and on the streets here. Very few items here have a set or firm price. You can almost always barter. I think this is great. And it’s expected that you will barter here for most items, so why not get the best price you can? 🙂

9. The Hospitality.

I am thankful that I also come from a pretty hospitable culture in Canada – I would say most Canadians are quite welcoming. But I do love and enjoy the hospitality of Tanzanians. They do their best to make you feel most welcome.  If you visit someone’s house you can’t leave without at least drinking some chai (tea). (Or a whole meal). Tanzanians love visitors and you can tell.

10. The greetings.

I have missed the extended greetings! Tanzanians take time to greet one another. It’s not unusual to spend at least 5 minutes when you first meet someone just on greetings. “How are you?” “How has your day been?” “How are you children?” How is your work going” “Did you wake up well?”….the list goes on and on.  I think it’s great. It’s wonderful to take time with people instead of saying a rushed “Hey, How’s it going” as you quickly hurry on to finish the next item on your “To Do List.” (Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a huge fan of “To Do Lists” I just don’t really make them too time sensitive anymore ;)).

11. The Celebrations.

Finally, Tanzanians know how to throw a PARTY! “Sharehe” as they are called here, are super popular. Any excuse to celebrate with food and music and they’re on it! I won’t even get into what weddings are like here! 🙂 (That’s for another blog). I just like that attitude of being quick to get together and have a good time. Celebrations are wonderful and I think they should be a frequent occurrence.

Well, there’s my list of the things I’ve missed and the things I love about living in Tanzania. 11 – just because. 🙂

 

Have you ever lived in another culture? What did you love most? What do you miss? 

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