Come Join Me

I have never subscribed to a blog, nor have I ever written one, but over the past year I’ve gotten many requests to start a blog as I transition my life from San Diego to Rukungiri, Uganda. So I welcome you to live life with me. Hop on in, buckle up, and come join me on my adventures as I share about my passions, struggles, faith, and identity as a daughter of the Most High.

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What would you do?

IMG_2635What would you do if you had to choose between your spouse and your only child?

What would you do if you found out that the government denied your legally adopted son’s immigration due to the fact that you and your fiancé were not living together?

What would you do if the government required that you re-file your son’s immigration paperwork stating that you and your fiancé live together when you don’t? Would you lie for the sake of your son?

What would you do if the government told you they could allow you to re-file your son’s immigration papers without living with your fiancé, so long as your fiancé went through the same 3 month extensive home study with blood work, background checks, medical exams, financial records, fingerprints, investigation of his entire life history, and needed to remain in California until they were finished?

What would you do if God told you to join in marriage with your fiancé in the middle of his study, but your son couldn’t leave Uganda and your fiancé couldn’t leave California until everything was finalized?

What would you do if the government told you that if you get married on the day that God told you to join with your fiancé then your son would automatically be denied entry to America and you would need to begin the entire process over again, waiting another 1-3 more years and costing you thousands of dollars more?

What would you do if you discovered you could obey God and join in covenant with your fiancé before the Church while still respecting the government and not marrying legally, but it would require you to travel across the world without your son because your fiancé was being held in California while your son was being held in Uganda?

What would you do if you were ecstatic to see your fiancé, who you’ve spent only 10 weeks with over your 10 month relationship, but felt guilty for being happy about a beautiful union because it meant leaving your son?

What if you found out that you could apply for a short term visitor’s visa for your son to travel with you to America for your covenant ceremony so you didn’t have to leave him behind, but it would cost you hundreds of dollars that you didn’t have to spend?

What if you, in a desperate act of faith, decided to gamble that money on the ounce of hope that you wouldn’t have to separate from your baby, but then were denied on the spot due the government’s suspicion that you were trying to illegally immigrate your child, even though you’ve spent years going through the legal channel and are a law-abiding citizen?

What would you do if you had to explain to your toddler, who has never spent a night away from you, that you were going to leave him behind for the sake of obedience to God and a hope for your family’s future?

What would you do if your toddler couldn’t go to sleep for 3 nights straight after you told him you were leaving for a few weeks? Would you still go?

What would you do if the time came to leave and your child broke down in anxiety while screaming “No, Mama?”

What would you do if you found out that the government might not be done studying your fiancé for months after your covenant ceremony and you were forced to once again choose between your fiancé and your child, but this time if you chose to remain with your soul mate it would be for an unknown period of time away from your son? Would you stay away from your child for the sake of your new covenant? Or would you go back immediately for the sake of a mother’s love?

What would you do if you had well-meaning people tell you every day that you need to choose your husband over your son, or your son over your husband, and any other choice would make you a horrible wife or mother?

What would you do if no matter what choice you made, someone you loved would be hurt?

What would you do if you spent the last week heartbroken, crying yourself to sleep over the decisions you didn’t know how to make?

What would you do if your heart was divided between the ends of the earth and you felt God was completely leaving the choice up to you?

What would you do if you felt like your family, who God has worked miracles to bring together, was being ripped apart at the hand of the enemy through the American government who claims they work to fight on behalf of your freedom?

What would you do if you felt like you were walking through a living hell and there was nothing you could do about it to stop it from happening?

Would you praise God anyway? Would you worship Him? Would you still trust Him? Would you love Him with your whole heart, not wavering from your faith, knowing He is working all things for good, drawing you closer to His perfect will for your life, creating paths for your family to be untied permanently, and loving you through every step of the way?

Or would you simply give up?

What would you do if you didn’t know what to do?

In this world, all things are passing. But He who is not passing is the One who can reconcile all that is broken. So no matter what we do or how many decisions we are faced with, He remains stable. And even in the pit of despair, He is good.

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth” –Job 19: 25

Please stand with us and join us in prayer to #reunitethefamily

Behind the Scenes

IMG_2079Walking away from something you love is never easy. But sometimes it’s necessary. After volunteering with the same church and primary school for a year and a half, I officially resigned at the end of last month. From the outside, especially to foreigners and visitors, everything within the ministry has seemed peachy, but behind the scenes it has been a different story. And I believe every struggle is solely due to the leadership not submitting to God’s instructions. I didn’t want to leave the teachers, students, and church members that have become my family, but I felt God firmly tell me it I needed to walk away.

When I sat down to talk to the pastor about why I was leaving, I heard God tell me, “Tell him you’re walking out as a prophetic act. I am also walking out.” That’s never something anybody wants to hear, whether you’re the messenger or the recipient. And as a Christian living fully under the New Testament, I had to figure out very quickly how to convey that message in a loving way. I honestly don’t know what I said, but the next thing out of my mouth was, “You need to know I will never walk out of your lives. I love you too much.” The words were not my own. It was God’s message. He never walks out on our lives, even if He doesn’t approve of our actions.

After that meeting, I was left heartbroken for the ministry and jobless. And I felt very strongly not to begin anything new right away. I’m glad I headed that as I was immediately struck with a lower back injury that left me immobilized for days. Simultaneously, the power and running water in my house went out (for 2 days) and my toddler got struck with liquid diarrhea (for 10+ days). It seemed like my life was falling apart, but behind the scenes God was doing something. The morning of the third day, I woke up with supernatural strength and minimal pain, which allowed me to get to town for some bleach and medicine. I collapsed within minutes of returning home, and I knew at that moment that it was God who numbed my pain enough to get to town. He hadn’t left me; instead, He was orchestrating help for me behind the scenes.

By the time I recovered enough to freely move around (I’m still in a lot of pain), I realized I still had no daily schedule (which is torture for me!). So when a friend asked if I could watch a child in the foster system for a night, I happily agreed. I should have known that 1 night in Uganda is at least a week, which was confirmed when the child showed up at my door carrying a month’s worth of clothes in a suitcase. I laughed. But it’s been such a blessing in this very difficult season. And it’s been a beautiful reminder of how far my own child has come from the foster system.

I’ve been brought back to the days when my little one would scream every time he saw me preparing food. Forget the countless toys and the new shoes and the meal eaten 2 hours before—the food currently being prepared could never come fast enough. He could see it, smell it, almost taste it, and knowing he was so close was more agonizing than not eating at all. From his perspective I was withholding food, but behind the scenes I was taking time to make sure he got the best meal he could. It was frustrating to relive these days, but God was using these situations to speak to me. And my fiancé reminded me of that this week when he lovingly told me I was acting the exact same way with God.

Ryan and I really believed our family would be permanently together next month, but recently we were informed of some heart wrenching legal issues that will force us to remain separated for an unknown period. Time after time, we’ve come so close to becoming a family on the same continent, only to be thwarted by some major problem. And I’m sick of it. I’m sick of having to choose between staying with my child and visiting my home country. I feel completely let down by God. And I have been screaming at Him so loudly that I’ve forgotten all of the miracles, confirmations, divine appointments, and undeniable favor He’s giving us to get us here in the first place. I’ve set my mind not on what He’s preparing for me, but on what I don’t have right now. I’ve been throwing full adult-sized toddler tantrums.

Ryan has continually encouraged me to try to see the bigger picture and realize this situation probably isn’t what I think it is. It’s like that time last week I clenched my fist to punch a strange man for forcefully grabbing my toddler (who was walking behind me) before I saw a speeding car suddenly zoom past the place he was walking. Or recently when I got mad at the property keeper of my home for using my gas stove (instead of the cheaper charcoal) for over an hour, only to find out she was cleaning my kitchen and preparing a meal for ME because I looked busy. Or that time this month when I immediately became anxious when a friend requested an urgent meeting, but turned out to be a simple afternoon to catch up and return some money she owed me.

My reactions are often premature, especially when I’m short sited. So instead of reacting to my immediate hurt, I just have to remember that I haven’t seen what’s going on behind the scenes. And for the well-intended people who have been trying to console me by telling me that God’s striking me with illness so I’m forced to rest, or that He’s leading me into darkness so He can show His light, or that He’s pushing me down so I grow strong, or that He’s separating my family so we learn a lesson, please forgive me if I correct you too harshly. He is not the one causing any of this. Though it may appear that way on the outside, behind the scenes He is working relentlessly to restore all things, including my family.

So in these final two weeks before I fly back to America for a short time, I’m trying my darndest to be thankful. I’m trying my darndest to be content in the moment, enjoy being a mama, and relish the moments I have with my Ugandan friends who are faithful to visit me. I’m trying to remember all He’s done for me thus far and focus on the promise of the meal I see being prepared in front of me, not just the fact that I don’t have it now. I’m definitely not in a joyful season, but at the very least my demanding toddler tantrums have turned into heartfelt cries to the Lord for strength to carry on.

What Bugs

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Learning about spiders in outhouses at Spider World in Australia ’06. Classy.

I hate bugs. Like really hate bugs. I love the outdoors, but I don’t love when the outdoors make their permanent residence in my home. That ain’t cool. Sometimes I think that the cruelest thing God ever did was move me to Uganda. Not because of the unknown territory or countless cultural differences, but because there’s an enormous amount of critters crawling and flying and creeping around every square inch of every place I enter. You would think with all of the advancements in the world that someone would have the decency to put proper measures in place to prevent some of these outdoor creatures from entering buildings; but for some unknown reason, weather strips for doors or window seals do not exist in this region. Yep, that means that every door and window leading to the outside has an opening. Brilliant.

When I was a little girl (let’s be real—I still do this in my 30s when I’m staying at my parent’s home), I would scream “DADDY!!!” at the top of my lungs when I saw a spider. And magically my father would show and implement the “spider relocation program.” I never had the heart to kill anything, so I would make my father relocate the terrifying insects to a more appropriate outdoor location. I’m glad to say that in my older years, and especially after becoming a mother, I happily kill all those nasty critters I come in contact with. But that doesn’t make encountering them any easier.

Ice cream party with 100 of the coolest kids! (Love and Care for All-Uganda, a home for street kids in Masaka)

I knew there would be a lot of physical hardships when moving to a rural area, but I was prepared for the challenge. I had heard of the potential political dangers, the deadly diseases, and even certain terrorist threats, but none of it really phased me because I knew that God had called me there. That is, until my friend told me about the giant crab spiders that live in the region I was moving to. I fearfully watched youtube videos and researched information on the crazy insect that ranges up to 12 inches in diameter (the size of a dinner plate). I very seriously reconsidered my move, but decided it was highly unlikely that I would ever come across one. Besides, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, right? Right?!

I remembered hearing about this giant crab spider (or the huntsman spider) over 10 years ago when I visited Spider World in Australia. (For someone who is arachnophobic, I do not recommend this trip.) Many reports of these speedy, oversized spiders were seen in outhouses and rural areas around the world, and I remember thinking to myself, “Good thing I’ll never be in an outhouse!” Oh how naïve I was back then. Seeing as most places in my region of southwest Uganda don’t have flushing toilets, I use these “outhouse” type latrines almost every day. As difficult as it is to relieve yourself in a hole surrounded by walls in the dark, nothing is more terrifying than feeling something crawl across your foot during these very personal moments.

Enjoying local “ice cream” with my good friend, Mama Fat, founder of Love and Care for All-Uganda

Well, this month, my worst nightmare became a reality. I was headed out to the latrine after the rainfall, and low and behold, upon opening the door, I stopped dead in my tracks. Right in front of me, in a moment of shear terror, I came face to face in a staring contest with the infamous giant crab spider. When I finally snapped out of it enough to realize what was happening, I ran back into my house to grab the most lethal chemicals I could find. Truly, this video doesn’t do this creature justice. The insect measured 5 inches in length, with its body almost 1.5 inches (yes, I measured the carcass after it was dead for a couple of days). You can watch the chaos below:

Seriously, no encounter with any creature has been more terrifying than this moment. Not even the multiple giant black wasps (whose stings can be lethal) who continue to make their nest on my front and back porch, the bedbug infestation I encountered during a recent stay in the city that left hundreds of bites on my limbs, the malaria-laden mosquitoes who present themselves all over the country, the flea infestation at my church that continues to haunt me, the mother spider in my kitchen who released dozens of babies from her egg sack as I killed her, the lizards who defecate on my walls daily, nor the countless frogs, ants, and other weird crawling and flying things in my house whom I’ve yet to identify.

Ladies night out with these beauties at Cafe Javas in Kampala

So why am I sharing all of this with you? Because I’m clearly still traumatized over this and haven’t even been able to remove the dead carcass out of fear it will resurrect itself and make its way into my bedroom. I reasoned that it’s better to keep the remains in place so I can ensure it is still dead after all these days. And for those of you who think I’m overreacting, you’re probably right:) Some things just take more time than others to get over.

So, now that I’ve shared my deepest fears with you and we’ve relived this trauma together, I can move on. How is everything else going? Great! Mommy-hood is more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined and my little one is making vast improvements every day. Our school somehow got an extension on its closure and has been allowed to at least finish the term (which we did this week). So I’ve been able to continue training the teachers in English and Biblical studies. I had a delightful time at Easter with my pastors and my friend from America who works as an emergency doctor in the local hospital. Ryan treated me to an extremely fun, fancy, and much-needed night out with my girlfriends in the city (who are seriously just super fun!). I’ve also gotten to spend many weeks with my dear friends in Masaka, at Love and Care for All, who live with and care for almost 100 children who have been abandoned. This month has been filled with fellowship, encouragement, and love.

Boys enjoying their bicycles at Love and Care for All-Uganda

Overall, life is still beautiful. And God is still good. I’m convinced that insects came after the fall and are a demonic manifestation in the physical realm, but life is truly filled with much more good than it is evil. So before I begin a deliverance ministry on insects, maybe I should pray for my own deliverance from this (most likely) irrational fear. Then again, perhaps an extermination business would be more practical.