Well folks, the time has come where we begin to feel a little schizophrenic. We soak up “lasts” while we experience the sadness that foreshadows the future emptiness that will eventually give way to a memory. However, at the same time, we smile with delight at “firsts” which in essence are blessings that we pray will carry us through yet another transition.
I thought that I’d share some “firsts and lasts” that we’ve already experienced and touch on some that are yet to come. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but they are some real life examples that are near and dear to our hearts.
The picture above speaks 1,000 words. It underlines the reality that Micah will be moving to Kenya for boarding school in August and that his presence will be gravely missed at home. This picture also represents the new responsibility that our middle son, Elijah, will have as he graduates to being the oldest child in the home. He loves his sister dearly and I can tell he’ll be great at his new job 😉 I can’t end this paragraph without pointing out that JoJo is walking…with SHOES…in this picture. Yes, she’s been walking since she was 11 months old and she practically runs now…not necessarily in a straight line..but running nonetheless. So this scene foreshadows the many walks with brothers that are to come (hopefully) while Daddy and I are having our Bolon language sessions 😉
These two pix show a “first” and a “last”. After turning one we finished off JoJo’s last bottle of formula and waded into the dangerous waters of whole milk. My first son was allergic to it for a few months but ended up being able to chug a cup like any normal teenager. Thankfully, JoJo seems to handle whole milk really well. (Don’t get used to it girlie! It’s powdered milk for you in Africa!).
The second picture shows JoJo growing up and falling asleep by herself with her bottle for the first time. It was a proud Momma moment! I didn’t have to hold her nor the bottle to get her to go to sleep. (Although I’ve loved those precious moments! But it’s hot in Africa!). Notice how she strategically replaced her bottle with her pacifier? She loves her paci and is quite skilled at finding it in the middle of the night 😉
All that to say…our baby is growing up. My family has truly enjoyed every minute getting to know her this home assignment. My Dad has already started sniffling and dabbing his eyes after every visit. Sigh. And although she may not remember this year with them, rest assured I’ve got a bajillion pictures that will serve as reminders to her over the next few years in Africa. We will (probably daily) point out family members and teach JoJo to say their names…just like we did with her brothers. And the next time she sees Grandma, Grandpa and GG, among others, she’ll get to make new memories that she’ll be able to recall herself, without the help of beautiful pictures 🙂
This pic here is full of sweetness…and by that I mean sweet Grandpa kisses as well as JoJo’s first encounter with a twizzler. As she so often does, she randomly comes up to Grandpa’s leg and hugs it while saying, “Aww”. It is honestly the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. And in this I can say…it must be a girl thing. I don’t remember the boys being this affectionate, this early on. JoJo and Grandpa’s relationship is something quite unique. I love seeing the two of them interact. She can be on one end of the house and hear his boots come through the door then take off running to greet him, screaming her babbled greetings along the way. It melts this Daddy’s-girl’s heart. I dread the day that the kiss pictured above is the last one felt for a few years. Sigh. Thankfully technology will (from time to time when we’re in town and the internet is cooperating) allow for Face-Time-screen kisses across the miles.
But for now, we’ll enjoy our last trips to Walmart where we can find choices… for aisles. And we’ll begin to put our life back into suitcases that we pray will show up at the same time we do when we land. We are so thankful for this detour that has God led us on these extra months stateside. So many memories made. So much love exchanged. So many blessings poured out. At the end of the day…what is this journey we’re called to enjoy? Nothing but a lifelong adventure of “firsts” and “lasts”.