Monday, February 25, 2013

His nut

Some people wonder what my life is like.

I get the question, “What is a typical day like for you?”

I laugh. I don’t mean to, really, but sometimes I can’t help it, so please forgive me!

One writer asked me recently to “Describe your normal routine.”
My reply: “My normal routine is never normal or routine!”

Honestly, I try to comfort myself with the fact that it probably just can’t be normal or routine with the life I live. And perhaps…it shouldn’t be.

At the moment…(and I say “at the moment” because God only knows what the next will hold!)

I am “Mommy” to 6 children ages 4 and under.
That means I have…  a 4-year-old,
                                    a 3-year-old
                                    another 3-year-old
                                    another 3-year old
                                    another 3-year-old
                                    and an almost 2 year old.
                                    (4 girls and 2 boys)

Then in addition, I am “Mommy Amy” (foster mother) to a 9-year-old little girl and 10 teenage girls who are either pregnant or nursing. Oh, and I am also “JaJa” (grandmother) to 8 babies born to some of those 10 teenage girls.

And in addition to that, I am the Executive Director of an organization that ministers to over 300 mothers & their babies in the villages and slums…saving them physically from dying in childbirth (before, during, and after) as well as saving them eternally by leading them to Jesus Christ.

And I guess in addition to that, I am a daughter, a granddaughter, a big sister to 4 younger siblings, and a friend to many on several continents.

I am a business marketing major graduate who is now delivering babies on dirt floors in Africa.

I am the mother who has to counsel & discipline without laughing when her pregnant teenagers steal the neighbors chicken for dinner.

I am the mommy who shouts “No! We do NOT throw the filthy washcloth in the pot of boiling rice!”

I am the mother who holds and consoles when the teenager’s heart is breaking over past sins…and is terrified over future consequences.

I am the mommy who sits on the couch way-too-many multiple times a day to go over yet again with my 2, 3, and 4-year-olds, “What did Mommy say? That’s right – no eating the dirt. And what did you do? That’s right – eating dirt. And what else? Disobeying Mommy, that’s right. Now say, ‘Mommy, I’m sorry for eating dirt. Will you please forgive me?’ Yes, I forgive you, sweetheart.” And kiss their little precious sweaty foreheads.

I am the mother who laughs and weeps in the same moments while rejoicing over the salvation of another single teenage mother…who was living as a prostitute, is HIV+ now, was completely hopeless and at the end of her rope contemplating suicide and abortion…yet accepted Christ while sitting beside me holding her adorable little 3-month-old baby girl.

I am the mommy who loses her temper, cries in anger and frustration, and then has to go back, get down on two knees and apologize with tears streaming down my face to my 3-year-old for spanking her in anger, not in love.

I am the young single mommy who bandages the scraped up knees, kisses the cut fingers, rocks tired bodies to sleep, stays up late and is up early…if I get any sleep at all between delivering babies, nursing sick little ones, and walking with terrified 15-year-old teenagers enduring labor pains.

I am the scared-to-death 26-year-old knelt huddled down in a pool of blood trying to save a moments-old newborn while screaming, “’Jesus have mercy!’ at the top of my lungs as the baby is not breathing or responding at all.

And of course the list goes on…and on…and on.


In a large nutshell, I guess, that is my life here in Uganda, Africa.

But that is just the shell. The outside of what people can really see. What people can really count. What people can really take pictures of and pray for. What I can update on about on facebook. What I can put in the newsletters.

That is the nutshell.

But the nut? What about the nut itself? The important part, the meat of it all?

It is deeper inside. So much deeper inside, and so much more complex.

"Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

He is the one who sees the nut. The real nut.
The woman who is running half-crazy 24/7. Trying to be all that she believes she is supposed to be. Trying so hard to live up to all that she believes she is supposed to live up to. And at the end of the day, the nut falls flat on her face. Crying out to her Jesus to carry her. To help her stand. To give her one more ounce of energy that she can not muster from anywhere in the nutshell.

Jesus sees the nut.

When I yell at my children out of anger as disobedience has yet again won in my children, then I realizes that my own disobedience is what has caused me to yell in the first place.

He sees the nut.

When I am singing out praises to my King as the tears won’t stop streaming from an outpouring of heartache and brokenness over all of the heartache and brokenness that I face every day in too many mothers’ lives.

He sees the nut.

When I am out of advice after hours and hours of speaking and counseling, and that 15-year-old looks at me with those tear-filled eyes and says, “I’m sorry.”

He sees the nut.

Who knows that He is everything, yet I still try to do things on my own. But in the moments of sheer desperation, I cry out knowing that this baby will die in my hands if He does not intervene on this nuts behalf.

He sees the nut. All of it.

He sees the inside part. That is weak. And weary. And burdened for a lost world. Brokenhearted over death and lives lost. So confused about how to live this “nutshell” life and everything that it is made of – He sees me crying out for help on my bathroom floor because I don’t know where else to turn, who else to cry to, what else to do – because I’m at the end of my rope.

He sees that nut.

He sees ME.

And I have to believe that is what makes Him smile.
Not the numbers, or the list of “what I do” or “all my responsibilities”.
No. He smiles at my lostness. My confusion. My worn-out-ness. My tiredness. My “I’m done ‘cause I have nothing left”.

I believe that this is where He wants me. He wants His nut right in the moment of my desperation. He wants a desperate nut clinging to His cross. Clinging to His feet. Clinging to His hands, knowing that He is the only way that I will make it another minute. Knowing that through Him, I can do all things, but without Him…I am nothing.

That is the place He wants His nut.

Oh, this is where He longs to find His nut. In that place of utter desperation for Him. Of utter spent-ness. Of utter clinging to Him for every breath of air in my lungs.

That is how He wants to see this nut.

Not the nutshell. Oh, He gave me the nutshell, yes. He gave me every bit of it. The children, the pregnant teenagers, the babies, the ministry, the needy, dying mothers & babies, the craziness…all that my life is that makes up the nutshell.

But I believe that He gave me all of the nutshell…to make me His nut.

So, some people wonder what my life is like.

And perhaps my response should be, “Would you like to know about the nutshell…or the nut?” :)

“Lord, keep me in this place…that uses the nutshell…to make me Your nut.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Just another day of crafts in the yard with my teenagers. They have learned how to make the paper beads so well, and are perfecting their skills of making necklaces, bracelets, change purses, earrings and more. 

My heart swells with pride as I watch them learning and see the pride and joy on their faces knowing that they have skills and can earn an income for themselves and their babies and can even teach others what they have been taught. 

"She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night." ~ Proverbs 31: 17-18

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! 
His love endures forever!"
Psalm 107:1

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Baby Bethany


Yet another beautiful birth that I am so privileged and honored to be a part of! I am beyond blessed to be a foster mom to these precious teenage mothers, as well as a foster grandmother to their babies :)

On November 13th, 2012 at 7am, RUTH, one of our 15-year-old Maternity Home mothers, gave birth to a beautiful, spitting-image-of-her-mother baby girl! The delivery went so smoothly without any complications whatsoever and we praise God!! Ruth has only been at our home for a matter of weeks, but God brought her just in time in order for Ruth to be able to deliver this precious little one in a clinic with excellent medical care instead of in the mud hut in her village alone where she otherwise would have given birth.

Baby Bethany was delivered by our very own Kupendwa midwife, Roselyn, along with myself. :) Yes, I have delivered and assisted with many births this year since becoming a foster mother for teenage pregnant girls, but this one was extra “learning” and so wonderful. I was the proudest foster mom as I delivered that baby girl, placed her on her mother’s chest, then carried that bundle of baby girl over to the weighing scale.
Once again, I was the stand-in everything, as no relative could be reached or wanted to be reached. The stand-in: husband, mother, father, sister, brother, grandparent – once again, I was all that this precious young girl had during those monumental moments of her life…and I treasure and thank God for the honor and privilege.

Baby Bethany is healthy and the mother couldn’t be prouder! :) Continue praying for baby Bethany and her mother Ruth. Ruth still has so much to learn as a young single mother, but her spirit of will and trying are God-given and we believe that it will take her far!

Bless you for the prayers and encouragements! Any message written or posted on the page for Ruth will be given to her and will bless her more than I can say!!! May God bless you, baby Bethany, and precious Ruth :)

Welcome to the world, baby Bethany! What a joy your birth was for me – thank you for allowing me the privilege of delivering you! :) I love you, preciousness. 


Our 16-year-old expectant mother, Mirembe, suffered a miscarried. He precious baby is now in the arms of the Savior! We rejoice, as we grieve the loss down here. Mirembe is currently stil in the hospital for monitoring. Please continue to keep her in your prayers, as well as the other young mothers in our home as they minister to her over the coming days.

As we teach and preach at Kupendwa, Mirembe had come to truly love and WANT her baby, as had not been the case before entering our home. She is grieving the loss, as we all are, and your prayers during this time are so appreciated. May God bless you. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

She started bleeding.

Mirembe is 6 months pregnant and should not be bleeding. Her stomach started hurting the night before, but she didn’t say anything. How many times must I say it – tell me, please! Tell me if anything happens.

But she kept quiet, hoping it was nothing.

We jumped in the van as early as possible this morning, and headed to the hospital. The line was long. The doctor wasn’t coming. The midwives weren’t sure and were honestly a little scared…and didn’t want to have it on their hands.

I haven’t had to deal with one of my teenagers having a miscarriage yet. And honestly…I’m not sure I’m ready for it. I got choked up a couple of times yesterday during the ordeal and couldn’t pray out loud for the tears streaming down my face as I stood next to the hospital bed. I silently begged God – “Not this. Not this one! Lord, she was raped, she’s young – but don’t take this baby. Not yet – I’m not ready for this.”

My children waiting at home, a Maternity Clinic to run, a mother with a preemie needing attention, a baby whose colon has twisted needing urgent care – all were clamoring for my attention. So, I left Mirembe there with one of her other teenage “sisters”.

A call came later – the bleeding has stopped…some. But she has malaria and they’re just still not that sure about the baby.

So as of now…we still don’t know. The baby seems to be experiencing sme kind of trauma.
I am asking for your prayers. Please pray. Please pray for Mirembe and for her baby. Lift them up before the throne of God with us and pray God’s will be done in both of these precious lives.

Thank you. We’ll update as soon as we can. May God bless you. 

Monday, November 5, 2012


Tears welled in her eyes as she sat and began to speak. Slowly, the story started unfolding as the pain and difficulties of the past came spilling forth. She sat on my bed and narrated how she had gotten here…here: to this place of 7 months pregnant. 
Abandoned by her “husband". 
And left with nothing.

This place in life is where she walked into my living from. And sat to tell me how much she needed help. How sorry she was. How desperate she was to save her baby and her own life now. The story goes something like this:

“My name is Nakato Ruth and I am 15 years old. I lost both of my parents from HIV when I was 6 years old. I was left with my grandmother who helped raise and support me in everything from that time up until now. She tried to pay for school fees for me at a village school but she also had very little help and support for herself and struggled to get enough for us to live on. While growing up, I used to do a lot of farm work as that was the only way for us to survive. I used to dig from morning until evening in the gardens, then come home late and cook. Sometimes it would rain on me while in the garden and the next morning I would be so sick. I used to do all of my housework early in the morning before we headed to the garden. We used to clean the house and then fetch the water from 2 miles away from my house. We used to take the animals to the grazing pasture. I would feed the animals and try to make sure that they lived so that we could have something to sell. I remember going days without food. I could starve because we had nothing. We had very little food.

My house would leak when it would rain all night. Especially where I used to put my head. I had no bed and mattress so I would sleep on the hard ground. And sometimes the water would come like a river through our mud house. we were struggling. I felt like a nobody. I would cry day and night not knowing what my future would be. I felt like I had no use in the world. I had no one to run to; no one to talk to. I used to grow coffee beans to sell to get school fees and some education. Life was getting harder and harder. My grandmother was growing older and older and I knew she was struggling to support me and take care of me. So, one day I fell in love with a guy who promised to support me and take care of me if I loved him.

Because of lack of money and I loved this guy, my grandmother had to give me away to a guy because of the dowry that would help my grandmother and also me survive. We were struggling and we thought that the best way for me to be taken care of was for me to marry. So, I went to live with this guy and I got pregnant soon after. When he found out that I was pregnant, he got scared. He ran away from the village and left me for dead because he was not ready to support me and the baby. And he had no job and had just been struggling to find odd jobs to do to earn a little to live on.

But after he ran away, I felt so lost and didn’t know what to do with myself. I thought about committing suicide and saving both myself and the baby from suffering in this world. I could at least starve, but making a baby starve is horrible. I was so scared and alone. I didn’t know what to do, so I just considered all options. I also thought about aborting 2 times, but people around me said no and encouraged me not to abort or commit suicide. They said that I would make it somehow. That God would help me somehow. So I decided to keep the pregnancy. I was so scared about how I was going to live with the pregnancy though and whether I would really make it. Where would I get food from? How would I get medical help? Where would I get the medical supplies for the birth and help afterwards with the baby now that the boy was gone and my grandmother had no support?

As I was still home, my aunt came and told me about Kupendwa. And what they do to support girls in my kind of situation. I’m so thankful that Kupendwa decided to take me in and welcome me into their hearts and lives. I now have some hope for me and my baby. I am doing so well – they take such good care of me and make sure that I am ok. I am also receiving education and vocational skills training that I never even dreamed I would be able to have. They are so excited about the baby and me and our lives and all that the Lord has in store for us – and I am learning to believe that way too. I am so thankful that God brought me here and I praise His name for still caring about me. I am learning more and more about God’s love and purpose for my life while being here and I am so much more hopeful for my life. May God bless Mommy Amy, Auntie Betty, and Kupendwa.”                                    

                                                                                                                                                      -- Ruth
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Now she is at THIS place. This place of peace and home. This place of shelter and food. This place of hope and faith. This place of redemption and restoration. This place of smiling – yes, smiling. This place of learning and education. This place of future and belief. This place of discipline and authority. This place of teenage motherhood and sacrifice. This place of pictures of swollen bellies and teasing about pregnancy pain and tiredness. This place of teenage moms and craziness.

This place of love and lots of it.

This place. This place is where she walks from into my living room now. And sits and smiles that shy smile that I still have to coax sometimes. This place of sharing her situation and problems with others who have been there, done that, gone through it – and are looking at her from the other side.

This place.

Is where Jesus has brought her. And he is not even going to leave her here. He is going to take her further. Further into His likeness and glory and future and hope. Further with her baby. And further with Him.

Please keep Ruth in your prayers. If you are interested in helping Ruth and her unborn child, you can do so here through our Maternity Home program. There are options for one time or sponsorship giving, but anything will go so far in helping this mother continue to live, learn, and grow.

May God bless you, and our sweet precious Ruth. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rainy mornings and hoodies...the best. 
My little ones absolutely LOVE when the weather gets chilly enough to wear their "sweaters".
Then we all like to head out to the front porch and catch raindrops and try to drink them. 
Yep - precious, blessed, rainy mornings :) 

Friday, October 26, 2012

My children wanted to wish their Uncle Mark a happy birthday, but right before dinner, with signs, distracted, having to sit lined up next to each other on the couch - was probably not the best time or way or place to take a happy "Happy Birthday" picture for Uncle Mark! Sorry, Uncle Mark! But Happy Birthday, anyway :)

They seriously became completely enamored with the signs! and yes, we have done signs before, although you wouldn't know it! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I hear my young teenage mothers in the next bedroom raving over my 2-year-old daughter’s new hair-do while exclaiming over and over again how beautiful she is.

And I stop dead in my tracks.

I could just imagine my daughter’s delight and beaming face as she stood under the showering of praises and love from her “big sisters”…who just happen to be teenage mothers. 

So, what caught me off guard? Why the stopping? Shouldn’t this be normal? Shouldn’t this be the everyday?

but it hit me…

What their own mothers didn’t do. This is what their own mothers did not do for them. This is what my teenagers did not hear from their mothers while growing up as young girls. This is the happiness and praise that they did not receive when they were 2 years old. The love. The praise. The adoration. The pride and delight that a young girl feels over knowing that she is loved and adored. The pride that a mother feels over her daughter.

It wasn’t there.

Yet, as I listen from the next room, what I hear are the hearts of my teenage moms pouring out motherly love to my daughter. I do not hear the selfishness, bitterness, and anger that first entered my home, but the music to my ears that I now listen to is my teenage moms living out love to children…even to children that are not even theirs. But their minds and hearts are learning motherhood. Loving. Cherishing. Praising. Adoring. 

I hear the tickling and laughing with their own infant daughters. I hear the praises and love flowing from their lips. I hear the kisses and happiness that has replaced betrayal and rejection that has been their lives before.

I hold my breath. “Maybe it is working. Maybe it is working??” Maybe this craziness that is our lives is working after all. Maybe bringing these desperate teenagers off the streets and out of the trees and into my heart, life, and home wasn’t as “off” as it seemed?

Maybe somewhere amidst the madness and chaos…is that healing and teaching of hearts, minds, and souls. Maybe? Just maybe?

The countless minute prayers that I shot heavenward the weeks and months after they first entered my home…when I was struggling to even make it from one minute to the next…maybe He heard. “You know He heard”, I tell myself, but in those hard moments, when the pasts, heartbreak, confusion and anger come pouring out from their hurt hearts, the Truth can be hard to cling to. But cling I must. And so cling I do.

These angry, confused, heartbroken, scared skinny pregnant teenagers walked into my heart and life…and just never left. And those same bitter, rejected teens are now the joyful, content, peaceful, and sometimes even just downright giddy teenage moms making my daughter beam with happiness in the next room.

I can only stand as the tears pool in my eyes and whisper a prayer of thanks. Thanks because the Father is good. Thanks because we are now at this place. This place of love and affection and kindness…slowly replacing the hurt, anger, and selfishness of before. Thanks because He has brought us this far and is not going to leave us now…not now, not ever. Thanks because He is the only One who can take our ashes and give us complete and perfect beauty. Thanks because He makes all things new. Thanks because He truly can redeem.

As I let my head fall back against the doorjamb, I let the tears fall. My heart shouts thanks…because they seem to be learning. Thanks because maybe in all of the chaos and craziness they heard something that I said. Thanks because maybe through all of the sin and frustration and tears and yelling when I shouldn’t…maybe they saw the love through it all.
He redeems whatever preciousness has been lost or taken from His children…if only we let Him. Whatever has been lost or taken from any one of us. No matter what the story. No matter how deep the hurt. No matter even how big or small the stolen preciousness may have seemed at the time…no matter how much we may try to pretend that it didn’t matter, or that it wasn’t a big deal…or actually try to convince ourselves that it just didn’t happen in order to save ourselves the pain and hurt.

No. No matter what the lost preciousness in our lives may be…He can redeem. Whether large or small, whether life changing or just a momentary hurt…He redeems. 

He redeems.

The tears flow from a heart full of thanks because maybe through all of the sin and ugliness…He allows my girls to see the redeemed. The redemption that is my life in Christ. Through it all, He sweetly and so graciously allows them to somehow see my heart that is truly full of love for them.

Maybe they heard the truth through the shouting and the crying and the discipline and the punishments and the prayers and the tears after all. Maybe they were watching…and maybe Jesus graciously let them see the good…the love through it all.

All I can do is stand in my bedroom doorway in awe and listen…

…listen to the sound of REDEMPTION.