Overcoming Postpartum Depression & Living and Loving God's Blessings

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Back home

We moved "back" into our house recently.  It was stressful and emotional. There was a lot of cleaning and repairing that our old house needed. We are getting there though. 

Now that we are settled it has really hit me hard how much I miss Kenya. There have been lots of tears and frustrating moments for me personally. I would say it is hardest for me to adjust back to "normal" 
Most of the time I can't even put it into words. 

Maybe it is like coming down from such an amazing exciting ride or exciting moment. I have described to others feeling like I am lost or like I don't fit in. I am unsettled. I don't like the feeling and I know it won't last forever. 

The pace in Kenya is much slower and the focus is usually on God and family. Here back home the pace of life is exhausting and over scheduled. The focus is not always on God and family. It can be, but materialism is such a problem here in the US. I hate,absolutely hate going to the store now. It stresses me out. Plus I don't want to spend money because I feel like we don't really need much. We lived off of so little in Kenya and already we are spoiled by so much. 

I know I will find myself again. All I can do is just be patient and let the memories of my simple life in Kenya shape my life here back home.

I am loving seeing all of our loved ones and my dog, Reese is finally home. My best friend watched her for me while we were gone. I sure missed her. She has forgiven me and seems glad to be back. 

The kids are doing well adjusting to home. They love having their own rooms again. 

Phill- well not much phases him so I just am annoyed at how quickly he has transitioned while I still struggle. I think each day gets better but I have to be honest. I am not going to pretend like it is easy. The whole thing wasn't easy. There were many times I wanted to give up. We did it though. We made it. We made it home and to expect to return the same person is not realistic. Life changes people. Experiences change people. 

I am very grateful we went to Kenya and I am very grateful to be home. The best of both worlds. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Back home from Kenya

What's it really like to be back?  Five months in Kenya was amazing. I have no regrets. I prayed that God would keep us safe and he did. There were times of lots of stress and tears and many unforeseen challenges but that is life. Have we changed as people?  I can only speak for me but I sure hope so. 

I enjoyed a nice bath at the hotel. I haven't taken a bath in almost 6 months. I drove a car. It was weird. I didn't own a car for almost six months and I surely didn't drive in Kenya. I took some of our laundry to a laundry mat and was so excited!  I only hand washed laundry a few times in Kenya, but it takes almost a whole day. I hated doing laundry before living in Kenya. Now I hope I don't hate it so much. 

I hope the biggest thing I can keep with me is not to judge others. We are so quick to judge others without even taking the time to understand their situation. I want to see others the way God sees them. Beautifully created for his purpose. We all don't have to fit in the same mold. God called us to Kenya and he used over 100 of our friends here in the US and other countries to help send our friends to school, college, donate clothes, shoes, pay off the balance of a stove for a school, volunteer, donate food and gifts,donate trees, chickens, goats, cows, electronics, books, beans and maize and provide jobs for many of our friends in Kenya. 

That's only to list a few things that was done in 5 months. We got to be God's hands through you. The love and support is overwhelming. 
We are happy to be back and touring the US with our family and visiting friends. Then it will be time to move back into our house and resume our new routines. 

I don't want to forget Kenya. Some of the best people I know live there. They have taught me so much about who I want to be. Forget the people who make you feel bad about yourself and enjoy the ones who love you just the way you are.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Teach a man to fish

You may have heard the quote,"Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats everyday."

There have been many great ideas that many people have had over the years in helping poor countries. There have also been not so great ideas that have actually hurt and enabled poor countries. While Phill and I have been racking our brains for months on what is the best and most sustainable way to help our friends in Kenya, I keep being pulled back to that one simple thing that is the answer. Education. 

Education is affordable and essential in America. It is mandatory for your child to go to school. There are severe consequences if you don't. If you cannot afford to send your child to school, then school fees are waived as well as free school lunch programs. I understand that it is part of our taxes that we pay that funds these programs. It is a great system. I value it so much. 

Here in Kenya school fees are paid by the parents. If you can't afford to send your child to school then they don't go. I can't tell you how many children I see each day who are home on a school day. When you ask them why they aren't in school they just say no money and put their heads down. They want to be in school. Most families have multiple children. It is common for the families to send the boys instead of the girls. The girls can stay home and help raise the smaller children. 

Now there are great organizations out there that sponsor children and help pay for school. That is wonderful. I have heard first hand from one of our closest friends and director of a school we support in Kenya, that many people give just once and that is great. The parents of the kids sponsored then expect that you will follow through and sponsor that child all the way through graduation of high school. While I think there are some people that can do that, it is hard to commit to that long term. 

One idea we came up with was to find the balance of the local school fees and pay them off. A student wouldn't know they were being sponsored, but would be able to attend school. 

I will be doing a fundraiser in the near future for education. This will include school fees, and sending another friend to college to become a teacher. 
I know so many of our friends have already donated and continue to give. I cannot say Thank you enough. This will be our last big project before we go home. Please be praying over this project and I would love to hear feedback and ideas. 

I truly believe we can make a huge difference and be a long term sustainable solution by investing in a child's education. That is how we can teach a man to fish. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bleeding heart

I looked up the definition of a bleeding heart. It says "a person who is considered to be excessively sympathetic towards those who claim to be underprivileged or exploited."

I have been blessed with this bleeding heart, but it comes with a price. I feel too much. 

There is no wonder why I went into Social Work or became a foster parent. There is no wonder why I love my three kids more than anything in this world. There is no wonder why I love Kenya and all it's beautiful people.  I also am an animal lover. Especially dogs. 

This is rather embarrassing but last night I sat outside to check on that stray dog that has been staying here. My husband tells me all the time not to pet the dogs. Do you think I listen? Not a chance. This dog just needs someone to love him. 

Isn't that all any of us really wants?  Isn't that how God created us?  To love and be loved...the greatest of these is love.

Now what does this really have to do with loving a stray and disheveled dog?  God sees everything. He sees all our pain and joy. He sees our midnight tears. He hears our worries and our mistakes. He created us to be loving and compassionate people. Somewhere in the everyday grind of life and tragedy and hurt relationships we become hardened. We stop caring so much because it hurts too much to put yourself out there to be rejected. 

I love the song "I am a rock" by Simon and Garfunkel. I love it for two reasons. One night in college, my funny friend and roommate sang this song and danced all the way home from the bar. People on the walk home bent over in fits of laughter. I will never forget that. I also love it because I know we all feel that way at times. It might be easier to just not love or to be a rock or island so you can protect yourself from pain. 

I don't know why God gave me this bleeding heart. It is a blessing for sure. A glimpse into what he feels for his children. All of us. Regardless of what we have done or didn't do in our lives. 

One of the nicest things anyone ever said to me at 16 years old was,"Don't change."  Maybe what he was saying was the world will try to change you, break you and destroy you, but you are made exactly the way God intended you to be.

So I say to you. Don't change. Keep what is God given and don't build up walls. Don't try to be a rock. It doesn't work. You will only become resentful and bitter. You will miss out on so many things if you do. Life is too short to miss out. Live life. No regrets. Love with all your heart even if it bleeds dry :)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Time is the new money

There is a saying that you can't have both time and money. I know there are exceptions to this but most people can't have both unless they work very hard to get to there. 

At home I was a stay at home mom. I have been off and on for a long time. I have had many foster children and raised my own children. 

I wouldn't trade these stay at home years for anything. I was made to be a mom.

I love the time I have here with my family. It is way more quality time than I could ever have at home. My love language is quality time so I am overflowing with my love language. Not sure there is a such thing as too much of a good thing. 

My time is filled with reading lots of books, homeschool with the kids, card games, walks with Phill, running, Zumba with Mary Jo and my two girls, Legos, playing with the dogs, and volunteering. We cook together, watch movies, and have friends over for parties. We also have volleyball tournaments. The Americans are undefeated but I think it is because we have all played before and the Kenyans haven't. It surely isn't because I am on the team!  

I just am enjoying the slow pace. Back home I was constantly rushing the kids to hurry up! We were constantly running late. My kids almost never had their shoes on as we ran to the van to get somewhere on time. 

Here I don't care if the kids crack the eggs all over the place and miss the pan. They are learning. I can sit down and play Legos with my son because I don't have a million household things to do. I am enjoying reading my books. I am reading my sixth book now. 
The trade off is not much money. I am not worried. There will be time to earn money. This trip has been so priceless. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Combining Cultures

I would imagine that if you live somewhere long enough, you become desensitized. I don't want that to happen, but I want the real experience. 

In the beginning, I thought it was cute for all the kids to shout,"muzungo!"  It means white person. It isn't meant to be derogatory. It is just so rare these kids in this area see a white person. Our neighbors in the area know our names and that makes me happy. Some of the kids I see often still shout "muzungo" and I just remind them my name is Jodie. Then they smile and try to say my name. I don't want to be "muzungo" anymore. It is the first time in my life I had to think about the color of my skin. It is the first time I had to think about being different. 

Phill and I have been walking a lot. We almost got ran over by a sheep once. It ran at full speed right between us. We had a good laugh. 

I have to buy carrots for my rabbits. We like to buy from our neighbors. I bought the carrots and we kept walking. Apparently it was so funny to see a "muzungo" holding carrots going for a walk. Everyone laughed and pointed at me. Especially the kids. 

Now this is the stuff you might really chuckle at. Americans are actually pretty rude when it comes to bodily functions. It is not acceptable to burp or fart especially in public. This is a challenge for some of us in the Klamm family. Not mentioning any names. If you must do this, you have to leave or clap your hands to muffle the sound. I am serious. It is so rude to do in this culture. It is called polluting. Our friends tell us people will think something is wrong with you in the head. Thou shall not pollute. 

One of my favorite things about being here is the friendliness of the people. When you go for a walk, you stop and talk to everyone. You greet everyone you see. If you get invited in for tea, you stop in. They are very hospitable. They want to show you their homes and meet their families. I love this. Even if we know very little Swahili, it still works. We can usually figure out what they are saying. 

Lastly, there is such a respect for the opposite sex. Whenever you meet, you shake hands. If you hug someone of the opposite sex, it is a distant hug like you are square dancing. You are called Madame. When a man talks to you he looks at your eyes and not your chest. 
Marquite has been asked for her phone number, has been asked out and jokingly has been asked to be married. She is still mistaken for being Kenyan. We just tell them she has a cute boyfriend at home. Which is true. They back off immediately, disappointed of course because she is gorgeous. There is a respect for a woman who is taken. 
You also NEVER see PDA. They might hold hands but that is it. Kissing in public is not appropriate. You won't see short shorts or tiny tank tops. I was explaining to our friends Joab and James what a massage was and how often Americans get them. Their faces were in shock when I said you only have your underwear on. 

It is such a great learning experience because there are definitely things I don't agree with. It is a mans world. Wives have very little say in major decisions especially when it comes to money. Men can have more than one wife as long as he can afford to provide for them. Teachers and parents hit kids with sticks to make them listen. I still flinch and it upsets me, but I have to know my place. I can't come in and expect to change a culture overnight. I can listen and share how we do things in America. I can respect a different culture even if I don't always agree with things in it. Just like I have with our culture. It is all about perspective and respect. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The honest truth about a big fat lie

I don't want this to sound like a lecture, bragging, or self praise. It's not meant to be. It is just me being honest. 

I could usually buy almost anything I wanted. I owned multiple Coach purses, Ugg boots, Silver jeans, and other name brand clothes. I spent $80 on jeans, my hair, and shoes more then once. It is very normal to do that back home. My kids had nice clothes. We did DisneyWorld for Christmas. We owned a house, three flat screen televisions and three vehicles. (Our vehicles were not nice but still we had three.)  We had a camper in Wisconsin Dells and even got season passes to a theme park one summer. A few years ago we had jet skis, a boat and a nice house by the lake. We have a nice retirement started and investments. 

Fast forward to today. We still have a house that is being rented until we come home this summer. We still have the retirement and investments. I still have some of those clothes. We sold our vehicles, camper, televisions and lots of other items. We will need to purchase a vehicle, and a few other things upon our return. The rest will come as we need them. 

I just didn't appreciate much of what I had. I always wanted more. I had to be skinnier, have better clothes, change my hair, have a better marriage, be a better mom, daughter, friend etc. I was never good enough. My house needed new floors, air-conditioning, and a big garage.  I wanted a nice vehicle and I deserved it right?  I deserved to be happy. I tried everything to feed this longing for acceptance in a materialistic world. Guess what friends?  It is a never ending battle that we will never win. We can't possibly keep up with this lie that is changing right before our eyes. 

I am going to share briefly what my eyes have seen in these two months here in Kenya. I see parents busting their backs for longer than 12 hour days to put any amount of food on the table. They eat the same foods every day. I see kids wear the same clothes with holes in them for days in a row. Kenyan parents take out loans for their kids to go to school. School is the only chance these kids have to better their future. When a friend of ours was offered a soda, he asked to save the money so he could buy a back pack for school. This same sweet boy asked to take a small piece of cake home after the birthday party yesterday. Of course he can. He looked at me with a big smile and said, "This was so much fun. I can't wait to share this cake with my brothers and sisters!" Yep. Tears in my eyes. 

I am not asking you to change anything you are doing. I am just hoping I can share with you how much God wanted me to see here and I pray I will be able to fight that beast of a lie that we need more stuff to make us complete. There is only earthly value on our possessions. Matthew 19:21 Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor and you will have your treasure in heaven. Then come follow me."

Friday, February 6, 2015

Farm Life in Kenya

I grew up on a small hobby farm as a little girl. I loved it. We had chickens, cows, rabbits, cats, a dog, sheep, a horse, pigs, and goats. I spent a lot of time loving these animals. I even was a five year old animal rights activist when it came time to butcher our chickens. I wrote something like, "How would you like it if I chopped of your head!"  My dad got the note and showed my mom. They knew it was best if I went to my Grannie's house until it was over. 
In Kenya, we have goats, chickens, rabbits, cows, and a wonderful dog named Nala. Nala has been such a blessing to us. She is a good protector and friend. She loves all the extra attention and she has accepted us as part of her pack.
A few weeks ago, Phill told me it would be time to slaughter one of our goats. He was given to us as a gift at Christmas time from a great family here in Kenya. We were supposed to have a big celebration for our new house being built and that was tradition. I started crying. I know a bit dramatic. Phill said if it was that big of a deal we wouldn't slaughter him. Amazing how quickly my tears stopped. We had guests come for two weeks and it was so wonderful having them here. One of the guys had a birthday so he wanted to slaughter a goat.  Good thing I wasn't here for that. So we had a birthday party and a different goat. 
Last night our calf, Beauty, got lost. Our night staff spent a lot of time looking for her. Natalie and I looked for her this morning. We still haven't found her. She could have escaped through the fence and followed another herd. Our head of security, Sonko, sent out a message on Twitter for the area. I laughed because it is as silly as it seems. We are all upset and worried. Natalie is a lot like me and loves her animals. Natalie and Beauty used to chase each other around the yard. So we are praying for a miracle to have her return. Her mom bellows for her constantly. She bellowed all night and all day. It breaks my heart. She is out looking for her calf now and we are hoping Beauty comes home. 
Farm life is tough. I am learning that all over again. I wouldn't trade it for anything though. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The proudest mom

I am going to take a few minutes to brag on my kids for bit. 

Marquite is the most amazing 16 year old girl I know. I know she is my daughter and all, but she has grown so much in these two months. She had to say goodbye to her friends, family, and boyfriend. We really like this boyfriend too. I would have thrown the biggest teenager fit in the world if my parents did this to me. When you are 16, your friends and boyfriend are the most important thing in your life. She never once did that. Instead, she tried to be excited and came to Kenya. She has made so many friends and has taken on projects that make a huge difference to this area. She even found a way to pay for her friends school fees because he got kicked out of school for late school fees. 
Marquite even started a business here for one of her classes. There is no limit on what she can do. I am so unbelievably proud of her. 

Natalie is in love with her animals. This is a big part of our day. Especially now that we have the rabbits. She even married them yesterday. Natalie has made a few friends that she likes to spend time with. She is well liked at SOAR Kenya and takes classes there a couple hours a week. 
She never asks when we are going home. She knows we will not be here forever, but she has adapted so quickly to life here. She sees that people need help here and she loves to help. She even told her new friends the other day, "We are the same people, just different colors."  I thought that was very insightful for a seven year old. 

Phillip is loving the same things he loved back home. He plays Legos and now discovered Minecraft. Phill has also discovered Minecraft. Phillip plays really hard and needs naps often. He doesn't like that we walk so much, but someone usually carries him. He is friendly to everyone he meets and he loves to keep us on schedule with our prayers and devotions. He even prays for us. It usually goes something like this,"God thank you for this day. Please bless this food and send your angels to protect us. Happy Birthday Jesus."  None of us have the heart to tell him we only say that on Christmas because it is so cute. 

I really think we should brag on our kids once in awhile. We need to focus on their individual strengths and continue to build their self esteems. We live in a cruel world sometimes and we need to be our kids biggest cheerleaders. So go ahead and brag. I just did!!  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The hardest part about Kenya

A friend asked me the other day what the hardest part of Kenya was for me. I had to think. Not much here has been that hard. Leaving home and my friends and family was hard. Leaving my dogs behind was really hard. The anxiety right before leaving was hard. Living with my in-laws for a month and a half was really hard. I love them and I am so glad they are here, but imagine all of us under one roof, selling, moving, packing with all of our anxiety levels at an all time high. 

So much good has happened since we have been here almost 6 weeks. The people here are my favorite for sure. The kids here make my heart melt. In silent thoughts and prayers I would adopt so many of them. I know this is not possible at this time, but if money wasn't the main obstacle it would be done. 

I guess my answer would have to be money is the hardest thing. Automatically you are perceived as wealthy and to be honest we are so wealthy compared to most of the people here. You can't explain, no we don't have jobs, we have very little amounts of money to do things with so please don't charge me four times what you normally charge. They just look at you in disbelief. They probably think, you have never been hungry. You have never been homeless.  You have never known the hardships I have known. You have running water. You have clean clothes. You flew in on an airplane so don't tell me you have little money. 

God has been working on me though. He knows exactly what we need and he will provide. He has been working through us to help others who are more in need than we ever could be. He is also working through all of you who have helped us through gifts of donations. It feels so amazing to sponsor a child, buy clothes, backpacks, food, goats, chickens, eggs, trees, etc. all because you felt moved to give. I could never thank you enough. I wish you could see the smile, the tears of joy, the gasps of disbelief. I wish you could feel the love of little kids hugging you so tight, playing with your hair, holding your hand, and have a crowd of kids follow you wherever you go.   
I think the hardest part of Kenya is going to be saying goodbye this summer. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happiness and Running

We have been here about one month. It seems like we just got here. I am loving living in Kenya. The weather is just about perfect. It is hot during the day like 80-90's. Cool at night 50's. Sometimes it rains for 30 minutes or longer. Phill and I got sunburned a couple times. We complain but then realize oh yeah, we are in Africa. It is beautiful here. I love the mountains and the trees. There are white doves that fly around. It is probably the most beautiful place in the world. The kids are my favorite. 

Natalie and I went for a run/walk today. There were kids lined up and down the road yelling" Wazungo kimbia!!"  Which means white people running. Then they laugh because they think it is so funny!!  It is like no matter how tired you are running there is always a cheering section of kids who want to high five you. Sometimes kids run behind you. I want to make a short video for you to see how amazing this is. I will make a video so I can show you the kids in torn clothes, barefoot, and smiling the biggest smiles in the world. Not to say look at these poor kids can you please donate money so I can buy them shoes?  But to say these are God's beautiful children embracing something/ someone who is different and loving them.  They are truly happy and such a gift to see each day. I plan to run because I love to run, but mostly because I love to see my new little friends. I have said it before and I will say it again," Some of the happiest people I have ever met have very little."