even when it hurts

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Coming home from living over seas sounds like the greatest thing. It’s nothing but sushi, and cheese, and the best of friends – day in and day out. You can go to Target whenever you please (unless you live in Canada, where they took away that liberty) and have a million different options available at your fingertips when visiting the grocery store. It sounds like a dream. And then you get home.

I will admit, the first few days back are as close as one can get to walking on clouds. You get to drive on paved roads, stop for a quick coffee, or even go through a drive thru. Your internet finally works at a normal speed, and you can call your friends and family whenever you want AND be in a similar time zone. You get to sleep in your own bed and take a hot shower that you very likely will never want to get out of. But then real life starts.

Suddenly, everything is overwhelming. The various choices at the grocery store now seem like too many options. A simple decision of where to go soon seems like having to make a major life choice. You frustrate people with your indecisiveness and you are paralyzed with the anxiety of having to make the choice or disappoint those around you. Even the smallest things seem bigger than anything you’ve ever experienced, and you feel as though you won’t ever be able to chose between two options ever again. And even worse, no one understands.

Not only that, but all those friends that you’re SO excited to see have moved on with their lives. Shocker, the world didn’t stop while you were gone. This place you called home for a significant amount of time is apparently not Narnia, and life does not simple pause when you get on an intercontinental flight. You are suddenly without the support system you have come to know, and you feel like everyone is nearing the finish-line of the race and you’ve barely left the starting blocks.

Everyone will tell you your adventures have been so exciting and they can’t wait to hear more stories. But really, that just makes you want to crawl back into a hole. While you absolutely adore them [and their supportive words are invaluable], you suddenly don’t know what to do with all of it. How do you share the stories that were your life for such a long time, knowing that you won’t be able to do them justice? How do you explain a different country and culture and society that has become your home with only words and a few pictures?

Now friends, this is not to say you should stop asking. Please don’t take this to mean that we don’t want to share what has been our life for so long with you. Just please be patient with us if we change the subject or stumble over our words or ramble about things that seem rather irrelevant. We will probably reach a time where these stories will flow more easily and we will feel at a place where we can properly convey our feelings – that time might just not be quite yet. But please, keep asking us these questions and showing us that you care. Somehow in the mess of our brain that still means the world to us.

All of a sudden, your days are unproductive, you procrastinate more than normal, and you bury yourself into an unnecessary amount of Netflix, because honestly, it requires little thinking. You’re still slightly amazed by the fast internet speed, and you sequester yourself in your room and only venture out if you know no one is around. You beat yourself up because you felt infinitely more productive and useful living across the ocean and suddenly you feel like you have no purpose. Each day is Groundhog Day, and wake up each morning hoping that coffee will make life seem normal again. And it kind of does.

But this, too, shall pass. Somehow we will continue to get up each day, drink that cup of coffee, and try again. At some time these decisions will become easier, or possibly just doable. I, personally, don’t know when that day will come. I wish I had the magic formula that made me feel just an ounce of normal in these now foreign “home”. I don’t even really know what steps it will take to get there, so for now I distract myself with school, and travel, and lots of Netflix, hoping that I’ll feel normal again. Like I’m productive, or useful, or needed here.

I wish I had answers. I wish I could explain how I’m feeling to the people around me who so desperately want to break into the shell I’ve constructed. All I can say is: please be patient. Give us a little time and space, but don’t give up on us. One day we can meet at Starbucks and we won’t feel overwhelmed by the infinite choices of lattes and frappacinos and iced coffee and… To be honest, we’d probably be fine if you showed up at our door with a bottle of wine and a plan to watch too many episodes of Suits on Netflix.

One day we’ll understand what it means to live life far away from the place that holds our heart. But that day is not today, so for now life simply looks like, “Play Next Episode”.

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here now

This blog was [mostly] written while I was still on the ground in Uganda just a few months ago. Leaving was a lot to process, and I’m still learning what it looks like to live on this side of the Atlantic each day. I’ve stared at this blog countless nights, trying to find the words to finish it, but I just haven’t been able to. It brings up a lot of feelings that I don’t really know how to deal with. But at some point, I just have to figure out how to take the next step in moving forward. So here it is. I miss that red dirt, my #thereddirttribe kiddos, their parents, and all of the beautiful people of Uganda. One day I’ll be back – and I hope that day is soon. 

Be still my heart.

Today was just what I needed before a weekend full packing & saying goodbye.

We set off this morning, in typical African time, about an hour or so late. This girl who was always [too] early for events or appointments, is now the one who shows up late – because here, late is on time. But this morning I was anxious to leave on time. I was so excited for what the day was going to bring, and I just wanted to get on the road already.

We finally left, all loaded into the Land Cruiser – me behind the wheel for one last Ugandan driving adventure and the new Mumford & Sons album booming through the speakers. I fumbled my way through the back red-dirt roads with inconsistent directions, taking in every bit of the driving knowing it would be my last long drive in this country for a long time.

We finally pulled up to where they told me was our final destination and my heart skipped a beat. There, walking on the side of the road, were two very special kiddos – finally catching site of our big green car as they started waving uncontrollably. I couldn’t help but smile as we slowed down to pick them up before driving around the block to their home.

You may know these kids from stories here and on the Sole Hope blog over the past year. They arrived, unexpectedly, at the Sole Hope Outreach House late one afternoon at the end of July. At the time, they were the worst cases of jiggers our staff had ever seen. Their bodies were infested with parasites, their frail frames could barely walk, and the despair was palpable.

The littles one who arrived that day won a special place in my heart. He was struggling through issues associated with neglect, and was often left on his own. Many mornings, he ended up sitting with me under the cabana as I replied to emails with him sleeping on my chest. But this little one wasn’t little for long. Slowly, his mother and grandmother learned how to care for him, he gained strength each day, and soon was crawling and walking around the compound, throwing side-glances and cheeky smiles as he went.

These kiddos and their parents stayed at the Sole Hope Outreach house for over 7 months as they recovered and got back up on their feet. While most of the family returned home at the beginning of March, their father remained at Sole Hope, earning money to support his family.

So this brings us back to today, the first day I was able to see these four since they left the Outreach House and for the last time before I travel back stateside for an unknown amount of time. These kids all have such unique and precious personalities.

To say I miss them everyday would be an understatement, but their smiles will stay with me for years to come.

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This boy. He has the biggest smile. And by that I mean, he NEVER stopped smiling. He would be the first to run to the gate whenever he saw my mzungu foot step onto the compound. He held my hand and we played games, pretending that we could understand each other – which normally just ended in ridiculous giggles. He is joy personified.

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Oh, this boy’s smile melts my heart. It’s the most sweet & shy smile that you’ve ever seen. He cared for his siblings and nephews so well – his heart was built to care for others. He is the definition of a servant heart & makes sure everyone is taken care of before he worries about himself.

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This one is a goof ball. He’s the perfect mix of mischievous & feisty. You could normally find him on the razor scooter, whipping around the Sole Hope Guest House compound – yet he always stopped to say hello to whatever visitors were stopping by that day. He is a firecracker and has some serious dance moves.

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Yasin-y. Oh boy, how I miss your little face. From the moment he arrived, he had a squawk-like cry that would put a sea lion to shame. He had the biggest personality for a little body, and could often be found giving me ridiculous side glances as I walked by chanting his name. He has a cheeky grin that forces everyone around him to smile – surprised by the sense of humor that could be housed in his two-year-old frame. He was my little buddy, and I miss our morning work meetings (AKA me trying to send out emails while distracting him with anything and everything so he would stop squawking for maybe 30 seconds). Oh, and this is the face he made whenever I tried to take a picture of him when we visited. Stinker.

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Their stories made an impact on me in a way that I’ll never forget. I remember the afternoon they arrived like it happened tonight. They were so scared that first day that they arrived, but to see them come out of their shells and grow into their personalities was a complete honor. I miss these four each and everyday. I long for the day when we’re all running around in the red-dirt, as if we didn’t have a care in the entire world. Whether that will be on this side of heaven, I don’t yet know. But I hope that the next time I’m in the Pearl of Africa, we can be reunited once again.

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ever be

It is already April & I have somehow been back in Uganda for over a month. And what a month it has been.

I hit the ground running that first week in March & haven’t had time to slow down or look back since. It’s been an amazing month, a crazy month, an encouraging month, a draining month, & an emotional month. I don’t even really know how to begin putting words to the things that I have experience, thought, or seen since I arrived back on these red dirt roads.

Until now, I haven’t really had the words to form coherent sentences to share with anyone. And to be honest, I’m not sure that I do now. But in order to stop these thoughts from spinning around my mind, I need to arrange them in some form outside of my head.

So here goes.

My first week in country was spent preparing for the StoryTeller team to arrive (also check out #SoleStories on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter) and a week that I won’t soon forget. I had no idea what to expect when these 10 souls stepped out of the matatu that Sunday afternoon, but what a beautiful week it turned into. Now, let me be honest, teams are a lot of work. A lot goes into planning, organizing, and executing a week full of activities with a large team in a country that doesn’t keep time well on the best of days. However, we ended the week more refreshed, more encouraged, and more understood than we ever expected. This team poured into Sole Hope with everything they had. It was a beautiful thing to witness and be involved in. I don’t think they will ever truly understand how big of an impact they made on Sole Hope – both here in Uganda, and through the words they shared.

In the middle of that week, we took the team to see the new Sole Hope land. And by that I mean Asher took all of us, I had only heard things about it & had never actually laid eyes on it before I drove our Land Cruiser on top of the hill that day.

It was a moment that I will never forget. I’ve had the honor of watching Sole Hope grow over the past two-and-a-half years. From volunteering stateside – watching the Collies get ready to set off on this new journey, to travelling to Jinja in the summer of 2013, to moving and working alongside Sole Hope Uganda starting at the beginning of last year. I’ve truly witnessed this organization, our founders, and our staff grow and change in miraculous ways since Drü & Asher moved their life here at the beginning of 2013. All of this lead up to this one moment, this one piece of land, this one God orchestrated dream.

The emotions took some time to sink in. Asher briefly explained the plans for building, for the well, & for the HOPE filled future that lies on that very land. We climbed on the Land Cruiser, taking in the vastness of this new land that God provided.

Okay, and let’s be honest, it included some shenanigans. It wouldn’t be a true moment with Asher & Lis without a little bit of crazy.

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But then, we took some time to walk around the land, dream about the future, pray over the lives that will be touched, the feet that will be washed, and the HOPE that will be restored in so many families on the very spot that we placed our feet. We came back together to share what the Lord had been saying to us individually, to speak words over the future of the land, and to pray as a community of believers who were on board with this God inspired dream.

And I just about lost it. Okay, I did lose it.

I stood there, surrounded by so many people experiencing Uganda and Sole Hope for the first time, and realized that I wouldn’t be in Uganda for so much of the progress from this point on. I’m here for such a short time this trip, and that’s starting to feel so real. This is the first time that I don’t have a return date – I don’t know when the next time I will step off a plane in this beautiful country will be. And all of it hit at once. My life for the past [almost] two years has been focused around Sole Hope, my feet have been planted in this country, and these people are my family. And now, I have to give it all back to the Lord, knowing that this is all done to make Him GREATER.

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And then I stopped for a moment – this isn’t about me. This isn’t about Sole Hope. This isn’t about what our human hands are able to do. This is completely, from beginning to end, about what the Lord is doing – we are but only the vessels. It is for me to determine whether I will trust him in that promise, or if I will struggle to put pieces together with my broken, selfish, human hands.

So here I stand, wrestling with how I let go, and let God. This is his vision, and has been since the very moment it was a thought in Asher’s mind, and that’s how it remains to this day. He only asks us to go, to be, to live – but to do these through Him. It is possibly the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do, but I am leaving it in the hands of the one who holds every pain & every joy in the palm of His hand.

So as I move through this next month, I pray that it is Him, through me, who moves – who places words in my mouth, and extends HOPE and grace to all those around me. I pray that His presence is felt in such tangible ways, that there is no denying is presence. I pray that he guides me as start each day focusing on the #nexttwofeet.

This life I give to Him. May He use it for his glory – living to only to make Him GREATER.

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If you want to find out how you can be apart of this next step for Sole Hope, you can visit our Pure Charity page for more info.

 

All photos by the amazingly talented Gary Chapman.

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one year later

This is a post that I wrote for the Sole Hope blog about my year(+) of working in Uganda as their International Coordinator. There are still a lot of words to come as I prepare to say goodbye in just over a month. The words aren’t coming as easily these days – circling around in my head, leaving my mind and heart with little rest. However, the words will come. Until then, here’s a little piece of my time here over the past year. It’s been one of the biggest [if not the biggest] learning experiences of my life – one that I would not trade for anything. One that was full of heartache and trials, but so full of JOY & HOPE. Thank you to everyone who has followed my journey to Uganda, to those who have read the countless words written as I worked through what life looked like here. Here’s to the next journey, the next lesson, and the #nexttwofeet.

It has been over one full year since I stepped off the plane in Uganda as Sole Hope’s new International Coordinator. I had no idea what the coming year would look like, or even what my daily life would look like. It was everything & nothing like what I expected. So much has happened throughout this past year. Sole Hope Uganda almost looks like a completely different place. There were many milestones that I was able to be present for and a constant journey that I have had the honor of walking with Asher, Drü, and the rest of the Sole Hope Team. It is a year that has impacted my life more than any before & one that I have learned more through than I could have even imagined.

At the beginning of the year, the Sole Hope Outreach House was still relatively new & the Sole Hope Guest House was just starting to gain traction with local travellers, NGOs, and mission teams. We were small, but mighty – working hard each day towards the mission of #ZEROjiggers. As I settled into life on the ground in Uganda, I came to love this country even more. Days were long & hard, but there was so much joy in each and every day. The joy & HOPE allowed you to push through each hard moment and each long day, allowing you to come out the other side even more in awe of the Creator & his people.

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In January, the outreach house had a capacity of 6 or 7 children. We had a pretty consistent turnover, however, the need was always greater than our capacity. At this point, we had a very limited number of staff assigned to the Outreach House and we all shared the duties and responsibilities that came along with caring for children & providing them and their caregivers with the proper education. We were able to bring in 1-2 families at a time & and we were so full of HOPE and joy for each family that walked through our gate. The Sole Hope Outreach House was created to address a need that crossed our path – and this small but busy house was making a way for us to met that need.

Fast-forward three months and through our partnership with Allume and the Weisburg Foundation, we were able to expand our Outreach House to have a total capacity of 12 children, as well as create an educational space where we were able to teach each child and caregiver the importance of hygiene, wearing proper shoes, & other preventative measures for remaining jigger free. We were slowly able to reach more people, meeting the needs of more families in the community and journeying with them towards #ZEROjiggers.

Before long, we knew that we needed to expand again. As people in the community became more aware of what Sole Hope was doing, we were receiving more and more referrals from local leaders and other community members. We were yet again always running over capacity, trying to meet what seemed like the never-ending need in front of us. In September, we were able to open the Sole Hope Outreach Clinic with a capacity of 30 children! It was a very exciting time for us as we were able to hire more staff to serve at the Outreach Clinic. It is so amazing to see our Ugandan employees serve the people of their country – one pair of feet at a time. While there will always be more feet to wash and jiggers to remove, we focus on the #nexttwofeet, serving each child and family with dignity & respect, working towards a life of #ZEROjiggers.

Since the beginning of 2014, Sole Hope has hired over 15 Sole Hope Uganda staff members and we are so excited by the team that has been built here. We couldn’t do so much of what we are able to now without these hardworking, genuine, caring souls who have come along Sole Hope, treating it as if it’s their own. It has been such a beautiful journey to witness.

Journeying alongside Sole Hope through all of these changes and progressions, all of the hard & fearful times, all the JOYFUL moments filled with HOPE. And those are the moments that keep propelling you forward. The problem of jiggers can at feel overwhelming, but then you focus on the next two feet – that one soul sitting in front of you, who you can serve with love and HOPE. In that, you are able to continue on, pushing forward into the next season of this journey.

I’ve included some of my favorite pictures and moments from throughout this last year. I loved capturing the little moments & big moments alike. This is a year I will never forget & will hold closely to my heart.

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There are some exciting opportunities & plans for 2015 – and we cannot wait to share those with you and allow you to partner with us as we move forward into a new year full of possibilities. As for now, I leave you with a message of HOPE. A message that I don’t fully understand many times, but that I see lived out each day. I am so thankful for the people I work with, for the kiddos who giggle when I make a funny face at them, for a God that has plans so much bigger than my own. Our HOPE is anchored in him, and with that HOPE we move forward starting with the #nexttwofeet.

 

shine like a star

So here’s a little story.

A story about one of my favorite families and their HUGE hearts for adoption. After too many failed adoptions and too many broken hearts, they have welcomed the sweetest girl into their family! Within the first week of arriving back in Uganda at the beginning of the year, I went to Asher to visit the orphanage where Stella was living. From the very first moment I saw her radiant smile, I knew this little girl was special. The interactions between Ash and Stella were something that can only be described by the linking of souls.

Though they have legal guardianship of Stell-Bell, they will have to wait several years in country to fully & legally adopt her as an official Collie. All of these steps and procedures require a great deal of money. Would you consider partnering with them as they continue in this journey? Below I have posted their latest blog post – a beautiful description of their adoption story so far. You can also see the original post here. This family holds a special place in my heart – they are doing BIG things for the Kingdom. 

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It is funny to me that I would ever seriously think that my family’s life would go according to my plans. And really, thank God for that! My plans are far less than what God has planned for us.

Dru and I always knew adoption was something God called our family to. It really wasn’t even a question. So in 2010 we started pursuing the adoption of a child from Ethiopia, Africa. We journeyed that way for about a year, lost thousands of dollars and came to the realization that although it seems wonderful, everyone in the adoption world is not ethical. But, through that struggle and loss Sole Hope was birthed! In 2013, after moving to Uganda for Sole Hope we found out about two children who needed a home. These children called us “mommy” and “daddy” and were with us on and off for six months. In the end we came to know the truth that these two children had families that were looking for them. Again we lost thousands of dollars and ended up heartbroken. In 2013 we also met a tiny and sick little boy we named Eli. He stole the hearts (in a major way) of every person in our family. And he too was taken from us after living under our care for over a year.

But, on Christmas day in 2013 I went to visit my soon to be niece at a local orphanage. She had malaria and was in bed the entire time I was there so I ventured out and started interacting with the other children. A special little girl caught my attention. She seemed so joyful & content. I asked my friend who knew the children to tell me about this little girl. Her name was Stella and I needed to know nothing more. My heart fell in love with her immediately and I experienced nothing like I have ever felt before, I knew she was mine but it scared everything living out of me! My soul pursued her in an unimaginable and uncontrollable way. One day I broke my hearts silence and asked Dru if he would ever consider adopting a child with a physical/mental disability like Stella. And in true Dru fashion he said, “Of course. She needs a family too.” (Love that man!) And so the journey began of bringing Stella into our family.

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Jumping back to July 22, 2014, Eli was taken from our family and it felt like the death of a child. I didn’t know how I would parent any more children; I wasn’t sure how my heart could grow to love another child that wasn’t already a part of our family. I was hurt, broken, torn up, depressed and yet I still had this strange hope that could have only been from the Lord. Only a few weeks after Eli was taken I was sent an email at what felt like a horrible time from the orphanage. “Everything is ready for you to adopt Stella. Just submit your paperwork to your lawyer and we will get a court date.”

WHAT!?

Horrible timing I thought. But my heart still ached for Stella. And because I know that God is the author of all things that have to do with time we pressed in and allowed him to open and close whatever doors he wanted-but, with very cautious hearts. After all, we didn’t want to “lose” another child and we didn’t want to have to tell our kids again that this girl would not be their sister. Stella stayed at the orphanage to guard our hearts and I would go visit her a couple times a week. I finished all of our paperwork like a robot, not really attaching any emotional energy to what I was doing. On October 23, 2014 we went to court and in a quick, matter of fact way the judge granted our family legal guardianship of Stella. What does this mean? SHE IS OURS! We can’t legally change her name for three years because we are waiting to finish the adoption in Uganda, but they can’t take her from us…and that feels Oh! So good.

Now for the cool God story that I didn’t even realize until after she came to live with us…

In 2010 when I was pregnant with Asa, Dru and I said that if the baby was a boy we were going to name him Asa, and if the baby was a girl we were going to name her Stella. Stella was born only 6 days before Asa, in the same year. So little did we know that while our Asa was in our arms in America, our Stella was being born in a little village three hours outside of Jinja, Uganda in the same week!

Let me tell you about our little star, Stella. She is six years old and has the most infectious laugh! Like, more infectious than Ebola. She is happy all the time…unless of course she thinks you are withholding food from her. She is so motivated to move and groove like any six year old, but her little body was made just a little bit different. Stella has cerebral palsy and microcephaly. She can’t walk, YET, but she is in physical therapy and is working hard. She can however get around very well with some amazing upper body strength. She also can’t talk, at least not like you and I can. She can say a few words and we are teaching her American sign language. She is SO smart and picks new things up very quickly. She also has unbelievable rhythm and loves music. Stella has extra needs that will require extra strength, extra stamina from our family and extra faith and we cannot wait to watch her grow and change and rejoice with her in what the Lord does in her life.

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God writes amazing stories. He has taught and is teaching our family astounding things through a tiny human being named Stella who is extra special. If you want to join our story, please do. Unfortunately it comes with a high price (in dollars). Just like any other adoptive family we have lawyer bills, paperwork fees and many other costs that we have to pay to make this little girl a part of our family. If you would like to either help us raise money, or make a donation we would be so thankful.

You can make your donations to:

Online: http://www.gofundme.com/i0m2qk

Paper check: Andrew and Asher Collie
605 East Innis Street
# 3263
Salisbury, NC 28145

PayPal: dru@solehope.com

Or email us at asher@solehope.org to let us know your creative idea for helping us raise money! (We need to raise $16,000)

To read more about Eli’s story on Instagram search ‪#‎ChocolateDropEli‬ and to learn more about Stella’s story on Instagram search ‪#‎SweetStellaBella‬.

Facebook photos from the day Stella and I met by @wanderingwithmary.

[Please feel free to share]

give thanks

Oh, my heart is full.

Today was my first time hosting a Thanksgiving dinner – it was also my first Thanksgiving in Uganda. Holidays here are different – not bad, just different. You are away from family, the comforts of “home” (no matter what Drü says, this “Canadian” still gets to celebrate Thanksgiving), the temperature is completely wrong, and you can’t buy 75% of what you would need for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Have no fear, we snuck (okay, not so exciting) people brought us those foods that we are missing here (Hello French’s Fried Onions) & helped us make this day even more special.

This morning started off a little different than most. Instead of putting the finishing touches on my assigned dish and heading to the farm to shoot skeet, I walked down the street to watch Asher kill our dinner. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, our turkey was happy as a clam, running around the outreach house this morning. Some might think that is the most disgusting things that you could do the morning of Thanksgiving, but honestly, it was a perfect start. There was lots of laughter, turkey chasing, & just being with friends. So our sweet Mr. Turkey that tasted oh so good this evening, started our morning out in a unique and ridiculous way.

This afternoon was filled with laughter, cooking, pumpkin, cheese (because the aforementioned friends brought good REAL cheese from America – bless them), & fighting with the oven for more space than it could offer. Creativity was at its peak this afternoon as we tried to find enough pots to cook in, enough pans to bake in, and a make-shift pie plate to bake my pecan pie in. But have no fear, the puzzle was completed and everything turned out just beautifully.

We sat around the table, sharing a meal, just enjoying the different relationships that were around us. (Not to mention it was #SweetStellaBella’s first Thanksgiving as apart of the Collie family – such a special time.) It was definitely different than any Thanksgiving that I’ve experienced (I mean we imported half of our food), but it was one of the best Thanksgivings I’ve ever experienced. For one night, we could put our work aside, and truly be thankful for the beautiful country that we are in, the delicious food before us, the community around us, & our Creator above us.

But enough of my rambling – clearly you are all waiting for the turkey killing pictures. Well, don’t you worry, they are here. Here’s to Thanksgiving – to traditions in an untraditional place.

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take the world

My sweet camera doesn’t see enough daylight. I feel like I take the same pictures over and over again at our removals/clinics, so I tend to not think about taking more pictures of the same things. But I need to stop that thinking. I’m determined to master the “capture each moment” philosophy and see the beauty in this. Each moment is unique – I want to capture that. So here is my little attempt at that from this week. Also, BIG thanks to my dear friend Lindsey who let me borrow her Canon 35mm 1.4 lens. I am in love – and she may never get it back.

Here’s to the little moments and capturing each memory.

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winds of change

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You know how they say “when it rains it pours”? Well I’m drenched.

The week started like any Monday morning does – with a hint of hostility and a never big enough large cup of coffee – wondering how the last two days flew by as fast as they did. I was as ready to tackle the week as anyone is at 9am on a Monday morning. By 10am there was not nearly enough coffee in my system to logically comprehend just how my week would change. “Hey Lis, you’re moving on Friday. Oh, right – that’s fine. I mean, I really don’t have that much stuff. I’ll just organize my time and try to get as much packing done early so I can focus on school.” Like I said, not nearly enough coffee.

So off we went – full speed through the week. It really was just like any other week: watching kiddos, never sitting at my computer for more than 10 minutes without being interrupted, watching Gilmore Girls to avoid homework, watching the kiddos again, trying to figure out what the next 6 months of my life will look like, starting to work on my homework, deciding I really need to actually sit down and work on homework – and BAM, it’s Thursday night. Excuse me, I disagree…it CANNOT be Thursday. I MOVE on Friday.

Well ladies and gents, this girl was fixing to have a come apart (a term that I now realize not many people understand – interpret as you wish). And here I sit on Friday night, somehow having moved almost all of my possessions. And homework can wait for another day, right?

You see, the house that I sit in has been my home on-and-off for a year and a half now. I sit here surrounded by memories, times past, and uncountable hours of laughter. I fell in love with Uganda in this house. I drank coffee on the front steps almost every morning. I stayed up too late here, ate french toast instead of attending church (sorry, not sorry),  and built lifelong friendships here. And now it feels like I’m just walking away from that season of life. But yet again (because heaven forbid I learn a lesson the first time), I remind myself that a house does not the memories make. The people are the memories, the community built still remans, and we can make french toast in another kitchen. Yet, it feels so real.

If anyone knows me, they know when I feel overwhelmed, I shut down. I avoid everything I need to do & drown myself in any form of “procrastination”. If I feel like I can’t breathe in one area of my life, I give in and push myself even farther underwater. Hence, the Thursday night “come apart”. And the Friday morning “come apart”, tears falling on Asher’s shoulder. And the Friday afternoon “come apart” as I pushed all of my belongings into the right room, not having the desire to unpack even one thin (except for a few candles, but that’s a given). I was drowning. And I wasn’t doing anything about it. And I’m a pretty decent swimmer.

Skip ahead a few hours to this evening. I was watching kiddos again, going through the normal post-school/post-nap routine and it started to rain. And I mean rain. There were poodles falling everywhere (please remember the stressful week and the lack of sleep that has come with that, and overlook that horrible attempt at a joke). And just like that, we were off to the upstairs balcony to watch the rain fall effortlessly in front of us. It was the most serene moment. Three kiddos, completely content watching the raindrops fall, dreaming of dancing in the rain, all while trying not to get their feet wet. And suddenly it hit me, sometimes a storm isn’t so bad. And sometimes we just have to sit under the dry roof, smelling the damp air & listening to its sweet song.

There I sat, rain pouring down in front of me, unbelievably content & completely sure of who He is in the midst of the storm. And while I’m still half falling apart on the inside, I know that this is just another step forward. I was reminded that I t is progress, a challenge, a new season. So next time you feel like you’re stuck in the middle of a storm, I suggest we tuck ourselves under His dry wing, knowing that the sun will come out tomorrow & soon we will be wishing for rain again.

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getting there

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Alright folks, I’m bringing back my monthly goals. And by bringing back, I mean I’m doing it for the second time – I don’t really think that counts as an official thing. I’m changing it up this time. Because I’m heading back to the States for a few weeks, I’m going to bundle two months together. I know – I’ve gone off the deep end. But here goes. Here’s to another few months – on two different continents.

Goals

  • Read 3 books. Seems simple enough… Especially when I have  l  o  n  g  flights.
  • Blog at least 1 time every week – if not more.
  • Go on a hike that I’ve never done before.
  • Take pictures of the everyday.
  • Let Jillian Michaels kick my butt more often with her crazy yoga workout.
  • See at least one Blue Ridge Parkway sunrise and one sunset.
  • Hug Target.
  • Go on an adventure every weekend. Away with these Grey’s Anatomy marathons.
  • Visit those kiddos at Arise & Shine at least once a week.
  • Pick up my guitar more than once every month. (And that’s a good month.)
  • Read more blogs that I follow. I get those emails for a reason…
  • Hammock. A lot. Cause I’ve really been slacking on that.
  • Continue to be more intentional with relationships.
  • Spend more time with the Lord – in his word. Feeling refreshed to start again each day.

Wishes

  • Pumpkin spice lattes. Because even though I’ve gone the same amount of time without them as everyone else, it still seems like it’s been about 3 years too long since I had one.
  • Eat Mela while back in Asheville. Because Mela.
  • Go to at least one show. Because I miss doing that – a lot.
  • Not wish away my trip worrying about how short it’s going to feel.
  • Eat BBQ. And Chipotle. And salad – so much salad.

So here’s to September & October. They will be a whirlwind, but they will be a dream. A time to be refreshed and renewed. A time to try this all again – and aim higher.

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all that I am

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Oh, how my heart has changed over these past few months.

Just months ago, my heart was hurting. I felt so out of place, I felt alone, I felt discouraged. There was a lot going on here. There were spiritual attacks like I had never experienced before. I was adjusting to living in a completely foreign place on my own. I was trying to figure out where I fit, where I was useful and effective. I was navigating a language barrier that I still can’t seem to cross most days. I was finding contentment in ways that I never had to before.

And here I sit – having a better idea of where I fit and belong. I have a [small] community around me. I have met friends who have built me up in ways that I could never describe in words. I work for an organization that allows me to be who I am, crazy and all, good and bad. I’ve learned more in the last 6 months than I did in the 23 years prior to my move here. I won’t lie, there are still times I wish I could send a quick text at the end of the day, and in a few short minutes be sitting with my friends, sipping a [good] glass of wine. But as a whole, I am content. It’s somewhat of a foreign feeling – it’s been a long time since I felt that.

Contentment does not mean loving every moment of everyday, but it is knowing that in spite of those moments, you’re where you need to be – and you find joy in that.

So here’s to contentment, here’s to joy, here’s to living the little moments.