Sunday, July 17, 2011


There are some stories in life that are so personal, so heartbreakingly beautiful, and so humbling that they are hard to share. It is hard to find the right words to describe how intimately the Father knows us.


Is one of those stories.

My first week in Uganda I had the privilege of meeting and holding and tickling and kissing a little baby named Jacob. For some unknown reason I felt an instant connection with him. He was all smiles and giggles and had the most trusting eyes. The very next week. This precious child of God died. It shattered me. I blogged about it here. How dare the Father let this little one die with out a family, a mother, without anyone who would mourn for him. So I decided I would. I did not know him well, but I missed him. From that point forward any child at the orphanage I met that felt the slightest bit feverish I marched them to the nurse and demanded medicine. When I left Uganda I thought Jacob and his story would just stay there and it would be something I would think about often. But nothing more.

Fast forward to around November of 2010. One evening I was browsing Uganda adoption blogs [a favorite past time!] and I stumbled across Lovelyn's blog. I read her story of how her family brought baby Clayton home and I realized that I knew her son! He was at Sanyu when I was and I had pictures of him!!! I excitedly emailed her an
d attached the pictures. I could not believe it! I remember her son being so adorable and so full of life and laughter--just like Jacob. Her heart for orphans is inspiring and contagious and makes me want to reach for more in life. As I was reading her story of bringing Clayton home I read about how during this process she had to tell a woman that the child she was trying to bring home, Lucas, had died before she had the chance to go back and get him. Can you imagine. What is worse is that her son died in October and she did not find out until January. So I clicked on her blog.

and I froze.

All along the top of her blog were pictures. Pictures of Jacob. Jacob had a mother. Her name was Anna. I now know that the trust and life I saw in his eyes was because he had already known love. A mothers love. I was not the only one grieving for this child. His mother was and is grieving for him. I sat in my bed and sobbed.

How. Out of the thousands of blogs out there how did I come across this one?
Only the Father could have orchestrated this one.

So I emailed her.

Dear Anna Marie,

I honestly have no clue how I found you! I was looking back over my blog from last year and re-reading the post about "Jacob". I noticed that someone named Love had commented on the post that she had the privilege of knowing Lucas as well, and getting to rock him to sleep one time. So I went to look at her blog and I remembered Elijah/Clayton! I got to play with him a lot and even had some pictures of him too that I sent to her. When I was reading her post on getting Clayton home I ran across the story of how you had sent her pictures of Clayton as a little baby. Then when I read that she had to be the one to email you about Lucas's death my heart broke. But, she typed that she had gotten to rock him to sleep once my heart about stopped. I knew she meant Jacob. I immediately went to your blog and was frantically reading. As soon as I saw Lucas's pictures...I just wept. Someone else loved him, had grieved him, and missed him in this huge world besides me. He had known love and Christ had not forgotten him nor forsaken him. I couldn't sleep that night. What were the chances that almost exactly a year later I found Love's blog, and your blog and had spent time with and loved on both your son's?!

Over the past few months Anna, Lovelyn, and I have emailed and kept in touch. Their blogs are incredible and inspire me. But this story gets better. The Father was not finished yet.

Anna is getting married at the end of July, and Lovelyn's son Clayton will be the ring bearer in the wedding, and I am going. I have never met either of these incredible women, and the
wedding is in Minnesota and I live in North Carolina. But there are some things in this life that you just cannot miss--and this is one of them.

One little boy. Lucas Jacob Ssuna. Has inextricably connected our lives together. He is the author and perfecter of our lives. He gives us hope when we need it and strength and just the right time. I know
that the Father has many more great plans for this little boy's story. Today I know that Lucas runs on streets of gold and knows a place that has no pain
or sickness or heart ache. He is made whole and complete in the presence of the perfect One.

Anna. Lovelyn. I cannot wait to meet you two. To talk of love,
and life, and orphans, and Africa, and Lucas. To celebrate together how He makes all things new as Anna starts a beautiful new life with her husband. I cannot wait to see where the Lord will take this story next.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

out of touch.

"All news out of Africa is bad. It made me want to go there, though not for the horror, the hot spots, the massacre-and-earthquake stories you read in the newspaper; I wanted the pleasure of being in Africa again. Feeling that the place was so large it contained many untold tales and some hope and comedy and sweetness, too- feeling that there was more to Africa than misery and terror... The word "safari" in Swahili, means "journey"; it has nothing to do with animals. Someone "on safari" is just away and unobtainable and out of touch." - Dark Star Safari : by Paul Theroux

Those words describe my mood, thoughts...everything lately. I have felt out of touch with everything. This post has been swirling around in my mind for awhile now. Until I had some down time on a recent family vacation..and the words in that book...I didn't know how to properly express or explain what has been in my head and my heart.

On days like today, when I have had many hours to think-- and I feel so lonely I ache, I long to be back in Uganda. Where my "job" was loving children and holding orphans and attempting to share His love. I long to disappear into the Africa I knew -- it was "sunlit and lovely, a soft green emptiness of low, flat topped trees and dense bush, bird squawks, giggling kids, red roads, and cracked and crusty hills..." To just have that feeling of being away and out of touch. Maybe it is because that is the pattern my life has taken. I do one job, one thing, one hobby, one house, one relationship, for about a year and a half and then it is over, done, and change enters in without asking. Maybe it is because this time I have been looking, trying for, crying out to the Lord for direction and for change. But so far life has remained the same. Same job, same car, same city, same apartment, same [lack of] relationship status.

I know I should be rejoicing in this season of rest and sameness. I long to have a heart of "acceptance-with-joy" --- and oh how I am trying. But my sinful nature fails me. My sin doesn't want to rejoice in the blessings others are receiving, or to humbly serve those who do not know the Good Shepard, or hold my tongue when I should. I have seen what my life looks like when I go my own way. It falls apart and is dark and broken. So my prayers have been for more grace, more joy, and more hope. For when I do set my feet on that beloved red dirt I will need all of those things. One doesn't know how going back to Africa will effect them. I want to be known as a woman who has lived life with joy, and has long {ever hopeful} patience, and humbly accepted any path He leads me down.

For I know that right now in this season...I am meant to be here. In Raleigh at my little job with my wonderful friends. For you see...shortly...these wonderful friends will need more hands to help, more need for babysitters, more need of grace and hope and joy. Shortly, seven {7!} precious children will have families. They are all currently in the land with the red dirt. I am so glad that the Lord has so clearly shown me my role for this season. It is to walk with these families, love these families, encourage and support these families, thrown them baby showers, decorate their nurseries with them, dream big dreams for their children with them, pray for their children with them, welcome them home at the airport, watch their children so they can have date nights, sing songs from Uganda, and watch in awe as their children grow perfectly in their love. And someday, oh someday, they will do the same for me. Someday I will have a man leading me and a house full of children and a community surrounding me.

But for now I will praise Him on this journey. For now I will pray "The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places." Habakkuk 3:19. I want to learn what I can in His high places so I can pour myself out abundantly in His valleys. Lord, let us always call out Your name on our journeys, and lean on the strength of your word. On the lonely days, when I feel like living on a dark star, I pray I would not fall into the lies of this world but that I would dive with abandon into the truth and perfection of Your will.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

no good thing.

About 6 months ago I ended a post with this--
"I am living in this intake of breath. In that moment right before you turn the corner and see a beautiful sight. I have seen the glimmer of joy and hope in His eyes and He is about to lead me somewhere amazingly unexpected. The Spirit is whispering to hold on, more change is coming, but cling to me. He will lead me."

Well, let me just make a confession. In the back of my mind I was wishing and hoping and praying that where the Lord was leading me was to a man. I mean-- it has been awhile so certainly it was my turn, right Lord? I have tried to be patient. I have served. So wasn't it my time? Those are the thoughts [lies] that ran a race through my head and my heart. That whispering and urging I was getting from the Spirit...that more change was coming but hold on...hold on beloved. I heard that right. The unexpected was not found in a new relationship, but instead in a beautiful group of people who gave me an outlet for my passion for orphan care. The reclaim | orphans crew helped breath new life into my weary soul. In the midst of hardship and families going through painful situations the Lord placed them in my life at the most opportune time. That beautiful sight I was hoping for....well I will get to see it in August.
He is leading me back to Uganda with some of my most precious and dearest friends.

When I left for Uganda in September of 2009..I was shattered, and bitter, and lonely, and desperately hoping that the Lord would meet me there. Never in a million years would I have imagined that He would send me back with so many that I love.
This trip will look so much different than the last trip. For starters it is going to be 6 married couples and me! The reclaim | orphans crew will be making the trek for 10 adventure filled life changing days! On top of that--some of these families will be meeting the children they will be bringing home.
I have no words
[oh Lord, how good you are]
That is a far cry from me on a plane alone wondering if I had just made the mistake of a lifetime.

It could be interesting---traveling the globe with 6 married couples--but the Lord has been continually encouraging me with Psalm 34: 8-10
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the LORD, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

A quote from a blog I recently read perfectly sums up my feelings on this verse!
"Accepting singleness, whether temporary or permanent, does not hinge on speculation about answers God has not given to our list of whys, but rather on celebration of the life he has given. I am not single because I am too spiritually unstable to possibly deserve a husband, nor because I am too spiritually mature to possibly need one. I am single because God is so abundantly good to me, because this is his best for me. It is a cosmic impossibility that anything could be better for me right now than being single, The psalmists confirm that I should not want, I shall not want, because no good thing will God withhold from me."
I am so grateful to be in the presence of so many incredible married couples. You know who you are and you all, always, make me feel so welcome, and so at home, and so accepted. I have the privilege of learning from your marriages. The good, the bad, and the ugly! And Lord bless the man He has for me---because he is going to have a lot of men to impress [live up to] and a lot of women to convince....we are quite the group to take on!

As I approach 25 the lyrics from a John Mayer song keep playing through my head "might be a quarter-life...just a stirrin' in my soul"
Honestly, some days, I feel like that. Like I want to throw in the towel, pack everything up, and live in a little house on a hill in Kampala and start an orphanage...but then I am reminded. That right now RIGHT NOW...

I lack no good thing.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

just me.

Have you ever had that feeling---"Lord, what exactly are you up to?"

I am a single, 24 year old woman, and I spend a majority of my spare time working with an orphan care organization. I am the only single person at most of these meetings. I know that I am called to serve orphans and widows in their distress, and I am trying my hardest to do that.
But to be completely honest.....somedays it is really hard. Because you see---for right now, I cannot bring an orphan home. I can visit them and love them and tell those precious babies that they have a good Father who loves them and a family that is coming for them. But I can't be that family for them. I don't have that "someone" yet. That someone to debrief all of this weighty stuff with, or to call when I have had a hard day, or just someone to hold me. I know that His timing is perfect, I really do....but this is just me, letting my guard down. Most days though, I am totally content in my singleness. I love spending time with all of my married friends and having the privilege of seeing their husbands loving them well. It encourages me and gives me hope. It is just in those hard days that I must again surrender to the Lord. Surrender to His timing, His perfect plan, and the truth that His love is enough. In those moments I can hear Him whisper..keep going beloved, keep trusting, keep serving, My love for you will never fade. His love is enough.

Somedays when I am at work scanning papers all day I wonder, "what in the world am I doing?" Why don't I just go back? I know that I could live among them and show them what love is and watch them grow perfectly in love. For some reason though now does not seem like the right time. I know a lot of that has to do with the movement happening in reclaim | orphans. There is so much to be done and I feel so privileged to be a part of this amazing organization. I am still in shock that the Lord is allowing me to live out my dreams at 24.

I went to a local conference today to learn more about an orphan care program in Uganda. I was the only single person in the room. I wish more single people would feel that is ok to go to these conferences. I am slowly learning that even though I cannot bring a child home yet...there is still so much I can do. I have the greatest resource of all. Time. Right now my time is my own. I can do with it what I please, and I have no one else needing my time. To other singles out there--male or female---I encourage you and entreat you--serve the orphans and widows in their distress. Whether that means going or getting involved with a local organization, just do not feel like just because you are single you can't do anything.

I still wonder what the Lord is up to. Why He has placed it on my heart now to serve orphans. I cannot wait to see how this all unfolds. Where He will have me in 5 years...or even 10 years. I am so thankful that the Lord has a better story for me. Better than anything I could have ever hoped for or imagined. I pray that you all would let Him write a better story for you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


It has been a while since I have written. Life has just been full of working, and volunteering, and moving. I moved eight times last year..and that is enough for awhile. It taught me that the Lord is my rock and my constant. Recently I have been completely overwhelmed by God's grace and abundant joy.

I feel like finally, the Lord has filled me to the brim. He has answered my prayers and filled my broken places with Himself and his love. I never expected at 24 to have the opportunity to be involved in so many things I am passionate about, and be surrounded by such wonderful people. After almost a year of being home from Uganda I am beginning to see how much that trip truly changed me. I am a new creation. The me that existed 2 years ago is thankfully, long gone.

A couple at my church has started an organization called reclaim|orphans. It is focused on having a holistic approach to orphan care, foster care, and adoption. There isn't much out there like this organization. We are hoping to be able to walk with a family through every aspect of foster care and adoption. For some reason, the Lord has entrusted me to be the Director of International Operations [it sounds much fancier that it actually is]. It is so huge and so much bigger than my little self. I have been so encouraged by the people who are willing to sit down and talk and plan with me about effective ways to move forward. Initially we will be focusing on Uganda, and then wherever the Lord leads us. I am humbled that at 24 I am getting the opportunity to essentially do what I have dreamed about doing since I returned from Uganda. Seriously, international orphan care, with some of my best friends---could life get any better?!?! There are somewhere around 163 million orphans out there. Last night at our reclaim meeting the weight of that number just hit me. That many children went to sleep without feeling the soft touch of a mother or hearing loving words from a father who loves them. This is why I must do something. Even though I cannot adopt right now as a single woman--I can still do something. As Christians there is a clear call to serve the fatherless. I long for a day where it will be the norm for Christian families to have an adopted child. We have been adopted into Christ's family and as John Piper says, "God's cost to adopt us was infinitely greater than any cost we will endure in adopting and raising children." Everyone on the reclaim | crew has been astounded by how much the Lord has moved in just a month or so. I cannot wait to see what the road ahead has in store.

I have also had the opportunity to get involved with sending a girl to live in Uganda for 2 year through Vintage21. I am leading the ministry to care for the in-country team and the stateside team. I have loved having the opportunity to care for the Morris family again who I lived with for 6 weeks in Uganda. They are so strong and so brave and everyday I admire their faithfulness. It has been hard planning for someone else to go while I stay here. I know I will go back someday, but I know the Lord has me right here for a specific time and a specific reason.

I never knew that life could be this good. That the Lord had this much joy in store for me. There were many days when I wondered if joy for me was ever going to be a real possibility. But here I am. Filled to the brim with thankfulness, joy, and love for our Savior.

" Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen"
Ephesians 3: 20-21