Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thank you, Miss Vanessa. For your love and support for Sandra and her precious baby boy, Dickens. May God bless you abundantly! Can’t wait for the day you meet them in person – we’re all excited! Love you! 

So many stories.
 I am still learning.
And I learn more every single day. As I grow closer to these women, these nurses, these precious mothers, they open up. They share more. They let me in to their lives and their situations.

So many situations, so many different happenings in this hospital maternity ward. So many troubles, so many heartaches, so many needs. Inside needs. Heart needs. I hear the stories…and oftentimes feel so helpless. I hear the stories…and wonder how? I hear the stories…and only want to do more. Reality. The needs are right before me. The need for the Healer. The need for the Great Physician. The need for the Comforter. The need for Love. 

Through Sandra’s hospital stay and being there so much with Sandra and Dickens’, God opened my eyes to the hospital maternity ward. To the mothers, to the babies, to the need. And until God provides for our own labor & delivery and NICU unit, God has laid on my heart to help these women now.
We have started helping the mothers who have undergone c-sections and whose c-section wounds are now grossly infected. These mothers with “septic wounds” oftentimes have lost their babies, are young (14-19), very poor, and struggling. It is often very difficult for them to afford the medical supplies and the nutritious food that they need for their bodies to fight such infections and recover. God has also opened doors for us to assist the anemic mothers who have very little if any breast milk to feed their infants. Many of these mothers are very malnourished themselves, and are able to provide very little nourishment for their newborns because they do not have the nourishment themselves. Because of such, the newborn babies are malnourished, underweight and most often very dehydrated. These mothers and babies often average 1-2 months in the hospital because the recovery time from such malnourishment and septic wounds is so slow.

I wanted to put up pictures of these wounds, but they are just too graphic. My sisters wanted so badly to meet these mothers, see the babies, see these wounds in person after having heard and prayed for weeks about this new aspect of God growing our ministry to mothers and babies. We loaded up in our van and headed  to visit the hospital. Little did they know just how much the smell and sights of these wounds would affect them. Feeling faint, both of my sisters had to go outside. The smell was too much…the sight even worse. What is easy to explain on phone and imagine is just so much more difficult to see on the actual person. The living, breathing mother with this horrible wound the size of her entire abdomen.

Christine stays right beside me the entire time. I wonder sometimes if I am raising a little nurse. She looks at the medical charts with me as if she can read and understand them. She watches as if all is normal as the nurse changes the bandages on the infected wounds. I gently touch the mother’s forehead and rub her back…Christine then reaches over and touches the mother’s arm. She watches as I pray…she holds my hand as she listens. She kisses the soft heads of the newborns lying next to their mothers. Her little heart is so tender, so compassionate. And I just see His love already being lived out through her young life.

 I am so thankful for the opportunities that the Lord is bringing my way to love these mothers and newborns. I want to show them the same love that I have been shown – the love the Jesus pours out of Himself and into me daily. The same love that gave of Himself – I want to pour that selfless, unconditional, never-ending love into these children of God. and if I can show that love by carrying a hot meal to their bedside, taking gauze and medicine to help their outside wounds heal, or by holding her shaking body and weeping with a mother over the loss of her precious baby – caring about the inside wounds – then I know that I am showing them Jesus. Loving as He loves. Giving as He gives. Living as His hands and feet…living out the desire of my heart to love the least of these.

Sandra tried to focus her eyes, but they weren’t clearing quickly. She slowly came to…and heard her baby’s cry. She felt something warm up against her chest. She opened her eyes more fully – there he was.
Her baby boy. Lying right there beside her. She could hardly believe it. He was there. Finally. In person. Her baby boy. No, he was not the girl she had been hoping for – but she hardly cared. He was perfect. So cute and tiny.

That breastfeeding thing – that was something that she was going to have to get used to. It is not as easy as everyone makes it look. It made her tired, but she guessed she would get used to it eventually.

The night came quickly. Amy had been there all day, her Mother had told her. but she had to go home for the night and she would be back the next morning. Sandra needed to see her – she needed to thank her. Amy had done so much.


She awoke during the night to screams. Cries of panic.
A mother. One on the other side of the room from her.  Sandra had seen her. The mother had given birth to twins. Shouting. Cries for help. Confusion. Chaos. They were saying something about the babies?? Couldn’t find them? Gone?
Her babies were gone. Someone had stolen her babies. Sandra couldn’t comprehend it. Stolen. They were searching….couldn’t find them. Someone said they had seen a lady come through earlier….near the bed. She must have picked them up. No one heard them crying.
Sandra moved her baby a little closer to her body. She said a prayer of thanks. It could have been her baby. She had taken walks. The nurses encouraged walks. She had to keep some strength. And try to help the wound heal from the c-section. The mother was in shock. Sandra guessed the mother would be leaving tomorrow. She had delivered naturally. Now there was no need for her to stay. They had been monitoring the babies – but now…

Gone. Just like that they were gone. That mother’s precious babies. Those babies she had carried for nine months. Had come to the hospital to finally meet. Had been sleeping with and caring for and breastfeeding – loving her twin babies. And twins. Twins are special. They have a special blessing – in this culture, they are blessed. It is special to have twins.
And now they were stolen. She would go home empty handed. Empty. Handed. No children. No babies. The loss was enormous.

And she knew it happened.  Always different reasons. Different people who take them. Sometimes barren women visit the hospital. And see the babies. On purpose. They decide to just take one for their own. They can’t have children – so the only option they see is to take someone else’s.
Sometimes the baby just looks cute – “Mine is cute”, Sandra thought. Maybe she was prejudice, but she thought he was so cute. And she prayed that this was not going to be a bad thing for him. Sometimes women  come to visit the hospital, admire a cute baby, and then decide to just take it and make it theirs.
Occasionally the family does not want the baby in the family. Perhaps the baby is an effect of rape, or the girl’s family may dislike the boy’s family for some reason – but bottom line, the girls family just does not want the baby. It made her so sad, but it was true. So, they “steal” the baby to conveniently not have it anymore.

But also…many babies die. Many mothers lose their children in this hospital. But there are many other babies still alive and well…they just belong to other mothers. So, like the story in the Bible with King Solomon – a mother who has lost her baby steals another woman’s child. and claims it as their own. Then they don’t have to go home empty handed – someone else does.
Then the worst one. Other times…the babies are used for sacrifice. She couldn’t stand this practice in Africa. It was horrible. And so evil. But it happens. Often.

Sandra shuttered. “What if it had been me? What if I had been the one screaming? What if I had come back from my walk and my baby had been gone?” She didn’t want to imagine. She looked down into his little face. Sleeping so peacefully.

She thanked the Lord that her little one was safely beside her in bed.


The next day…the baby on the next bed died. That baby’s mother had been young, too.  Just like her.  She watched as the mother didn’t know what to do. She woke up and he was dead. Her baby boy was dead. They didn’t even know what from. Sandra thought she still looked confused. Didn’t really seem to know what happened. The nurses didn’t really know either. He was just dead.

The mother looked so confused. Disoriented. She looked like she didn’t know what to do next. She called the nurse. The nurse came…looked over the baby…then took him away.

She left later that day.

A few hours later…same thing. A baby on the opposite side of the room. Died. “My goodness. How was this happening like this? I thought these babies had been born healthy – just like my little boy.”, Sandra thought.  
Sickness. Some kind of infection. And they said maybe malaria, too. but they didn’t seem to know for sure.
That baby was a little boy, too. `

Sandra pulled her baby even closer than before.


Her little one started crying. She woke up to breastfeed…and began to hear the chatter around her again.
Another baby. “Seriously, Lord?”, she thought. Her mom was awake too. She was watching and listening – another baby.
Rumors…she kept catching little bits and pieces of the story. A mother had given birth…and something happened during the cutting of the umbilical cord. The baby contracted tetanus. Quickly.
They rushed the baby to the children’s hospital…but it was too late. He didn’t even make it to the hospital. He died en route.

She shuttered. Thankful. She could only be thankful.

She prayed for these other mothers, these other girls. So many situations, so many needs. So many horrific situations. The sad truth. Reality.
She knew Amy’s heart. Longing to help, comforting, supporting so many of these babies and mothers. Sandra knew from experience. Amy had come so long ago. Way back in the beginning of her pregnancy. God had miraculously provided for all of her needs and the baby’s through Amy’s love, provision, and care. Amy insured that the c-section was done to the best of the doctor’s ability…and Sandra came out perfectly fine. The baby is perfectly fine. She wasn’t lying on the bed worrying like so many of these other mothers. No. She had every need cared for…even as a poor, fifteen year old girl having to undergo a c-section, she had peace. Even in this place that can be so frightening and scary at times…she had known that God was with her, protecting her, providing for her…and Amy was here too.

Thankful. She could only be thankful.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Walking into my house, I got the news…Sandra was in labor. I turned right back around and walked out of the gate. On my way to the hospital, I receive a phone call – they want to take Sandra in for the operation (c-section) right then. “No, Lord, not yet! I need to see her – talk with the doctors. I wanted her to be able to try to push! Not the operation – not yet!”

When I arrived at the hospital, Sandra was already in a small examination room in the maternity ward. She was lying on her side in much pain, but in complete silence. I found her confused mother outside – she looked as if she didn’t know what in the world to do or what to even think. The doctors had decided to wait until I arrived and could talk with them. But even after talking, it was certain. Operation. They told me that they had to do the c-section. After checking her, it was concluded that her pelvis was too small, she was too young, and she was a PG. Therefore, much to my disappointment the decision was made: operation.
I had just wanted Sandra to be able to try to push the baby. And if complications arose, or her pelvis truly was too small – then by all means perform the c-section, but for a 15 year old girl with a first pregnancy – I wanted this delivery to be natural…for so many health and safety reasons. But…God is sovereign and in control – and He took this one out of my hands.

I stayed by Sandra’s side while we waited for her to be taken to the “theatre” (the operating room). She was in a lot of pain, but she just wanted to lay on her side and squeeze my arms. I rubbed and rubbed her back to help ease the pain. Her mother was still at a loss as to how to help or keep busy, so I sent her outside with the other women who had come from the village to offer support. The doctor showed up a while later and moved us to the theatre “waiting room”. That almost made it worse. I wish we could have stayed in the small examination room – at least we wouldn’t have had to watch all of the other women coming out on stretchers and covered in sheets, and in so much pain. The nervousness increased a little for each person waiting as we watched the mothers come out one by one. But the prayers continued and God’s peace flooded that waiting room. We all knew the danger – we all knew how easily something could go wrong. As much as I tried to push thoughts from my mind, I kept having flashbacks. To this summer…to this same place…to the newborn infant that died in my arms. His mother had undergone the operation – and didn’t do very well afterward. He had ended up not making it after struggling for breath for the few hours of his short life. I knew all too well the dangers.

The images kept playing in my mind. The thoughts kept coming…and His peace kept me still on that concrete bench as we waited. I felt the prayers of many back home. And I felt His peace cover me like a blanket. We had prayed. We had prepared as best we could. and now it was His turn…His turn to do the rest. My job was to rest in His peace and control – and leave everything in His hands.

We sat on the concrete bench and ended up waiting for over an hour or so before the doctor came out, gave me a look, and I stood up with Sandra. The operation card officially said, “Kizza Sandra. Inadequate pelvis. Young PG.” …all meaning “C-section”. Sandra stood up from the bench, held her card, wrapped the bed sheet tighter around herself, and walked straight through the doors behind the doctor. She didn’t look at us. She didn’t turn around. She didn’t say a word. She had signed her thumbprint – giving full consent. The doctor was not to be held liable if anything went wrong. She held her head high and marched straight into that operating room.

15 years old. Pregnant. Strange doctors. Scary hospital. Knowing full well the possibility that she might not come out…Walking into an operation room.
I knew the fear was just below the surface of that stoic face and rigid body. But I also knew the peace of God was right there with it. I know her beliefs – I know her faith. And I know my God. He walked with her into that operation room when I had to wait outside…and I had to trust Him that He was going to bring her out again. Lord-willing with a beautiful, healthy little baby.

Waiting. Waiting is the hard part. But 1 hour and 15 minutes later, the nurse carried out a healthy, crying baby boy. As I held him in my arms, I breathed in that familiar newborn baby smell. I held his little fingers and toes in my hands while I gazed upon his newborn little face. I rocked him, walked him, talked to him – everything, but the crying just did not want to stop. He kept crying and exerting so much energy crying – and I knew he hadn’t breastfed yet. An hour went by. His breathing and heart rates seemed to be going down pretty rapidly, but I didn’t want to panic. I began to get a little concerned, but just told myself that the baby was sleepy and getting tired from crying. The flashbacks started again anyway. A c-section baby. I began to pray…I did not want to deal with another episode of CPR on a newborn. But as I prayed and watched him closely, he seemed to just be falling asleep and slowing down. 30 more minutes passed – it was now going on 2 hours since the baby had been brought out of the operating room, and still no sign of Sandra. As I sat in the maternity ward surrounded by mothers and newborns, I watched the life happening around me. LIFE. Newborn, baby, infant, perfect, miracle – LIFE. I watched the babies with their mothers, and the older women with their daughters and grandchildren…and I breathed a prayer of thanks. A prayer of thanks for life. And the beauty of God’s creation in human life.

As I sat and prayed, Sandra finally came out. They wheeled her into the maternity ward and over to the bed I had been sitting on with the baby. I still didn’t know the baby’s name – Sandra had not told anyone beforehand what the name would be whether boy or girl, so we were patiently waiting. Sandra was completely unconscious, which I was thankful for. Some women come out and the anesthesia was not done properly and they are still very much awake, aware, and in pain.

Once they moved Sandra onto the bed, I held the baby up to her chest to try to force the baby to breastfeed. He woke up and became very active and was very eager to eat. After ensuring that the baby was eating well, Sandra was fine, they had all necessary supplies, food, etc, I made my way back home with the promise of returning in the morning.

I walk through my front gate and am greeted immediately by my own miracles of life. The ones who were born who knows where. In a hospital? Doubtful. In a clinic? Maybe. Probably in a hut on a dirt floor somewhere deep in a village. I don’t know. The reality hits me again – I do not know. I know so little about them, about their lives before I first met them. Here I just left a mother and newborn baby that I have been with throughout pregnancy and now birth. And I have been able to witness births and hold these newborns just moments after drawing their first breaths – and yet with my own children…I have no idea. I didn’t have that privilege. I wasn’t there to witness their births, to breathe in that newborn baby smell on their skin, to watch their every move since birth…no. But God was. He was there on the day of their births. He was there holding them in His arms when they let out their first cries. He held their hands and walked them through the very difficult first days, weeks, and months of their lives. Then…He chose to graciously walk them into my arms, into my life, and into my love.

Birth. Life. Such amazing and miraculous events. And I stand in awe of my God as I witness life daily. I pray yet again that I never take it for granted – the miracle of human life. That I never take for granted – the gift of each breath. And I pray fervently…that I never take for granted the gift of each precious life that He so graciously allows me to be a part of. Whether it be as Mommy, daughter, granddaughter, sister, friend, or even stranger…my prayer is that I could just pour the love of Jesus into every precious life that He walks into mine.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

  from all of us :) 
We love you!

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" 
2 Corinthians 9:15

**Thank you Aunt Dede for filming all of us!
(and having patience with all of the cuteness - and all of the "no's"!) :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

While driving out of our front gate, I watch my children standing on the front porch yelling “I wuv you!” and blowing kisses in my general direction.

A friend commented to me yesterday about my children. While witnessing the goodbye scene that occurs when Mommy leaves the house, she said, “Healthy goodbyes. They are not screaming after you when you leave.”

I smile. No, they are not screaming now, but I remember back to the time when they did. Every single time I had to leave the house and couldn’t take them with me…screams and cries.

I turn to her and smile, “They know that Mommy is coming back.”

My children. They have been rejected. Left alone. Abandoned. Terrified.
They are not here with me because their lives were perfect and going fine. They are not here because they were necessarily well taken care of. Their pasts, their minds, their thoughts – I wish I knew all of it. I wish I could understand what makes them freak out at certain times or random things. I wish I knew how to help them better, how to make it all go away.
But I don’t. and I can’t.

But He does. and He can. And He can provide that security through me. through a family. Through a Mommy. Through food; through a bed; through love. I can give them that security. I can offer the security of my love. No, I can not guarantee that I will come home – we never know when we will be truly called Home, but I can do the best I can to provide for them, love them, and give them the security that only the love of a true parent can provide.

“They know that Mommy is coming back.”

My children now know that they have a home. Security of home. No more starvation. Security of food. No more rejection. Security of love. No more abandonment. Security of acceptance. No longer orphans. Security of family. No. no more screaming. No more panicked cries. They have mommy. And now they know that Mommy is coming back. So now, they can stand with that security at the front door and wave with shouts of “I wuv you!” while blowing kisses at me.

Recently, someone attempted to enter our house during the middle of the night. So, needless to say, we have increased our “security” around the house and compound. But it has not been this security that has me praising my Savior. No, not the security that comes from the guard outside, but the inner security of knowing that I am in my Father’s hands. Completely in His hands – nothing can touch me or happen to me without His knowledge, and without his approval.  Security. The kind of complete security that comes with placing my entire life in His hands. The complete security of His protection. The complete security in His provision. The complete security of His love.

...The same kind of security that my children now have knowing that their lives are completely safe in my hands. No, I am not God, but rather their parent. I am the representative of God in my children's little their young lives. I can only offer as much security as this physical temporary life will allow…but I can offer that. I rest in my Father’s hands, as they rest in mine. Yes, they ultimately rest in my Father’s hands as well, but their little eyes see me. They see Mommy. As the physical extension of the Father to my children, they see me as their security. And as I learn more about parenting every single day, I learn more about my Father every single day. And vice versa. If I am learning from Him – the ultimate Security – then, I will be able to provide the kind of security that the complete love of a true parent can bring to my children.


Now, don’t let me give the wrong impression. Granted they are getting much better but my children DO cry and scream occasionally when I leave the house :) Thankfully, it is becoming more rare, except when they just want to go too. But the panic is gone. The complete terror that Mommy is leaving and might not come back is gone. Now…they know that Mommy is coming back. They know that Mommy will only be gone for a little while and that she will come back to them as soon as she can.

“They know that Mommy is coming back.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Having finished evening devotions and prayer time, I turned out the lights, checked on the children one more time, and walked down the hallway to my bedroom. The seven year old walked with me down the hallway while hanging on my arm. For various reasons, I currently have five of my children sleeping in the same room with me. The younger ones were already in bed, but she had stayed up for devotions and prayers. We were giving thanks and just praising the Lord tonight during prayer time, as we were still in the Thanksgiving spirit, and as this one is still learning how to pray, we do more of a “repeat-after-me” type prayer for her.

Today, she visited the supermarket for the first time in her life. And this called for a big thanksgiving prayer to Jesus. She was still grinning from ear to ear just as she had done in the supermarket, as she prayed and thanked Jesus that she got to shop in the supermarket and carry the basket, even though it got too heavy and Mommy had to carry it for her.

As we walked into the bedroom, she began saying, “Mommy Amy, puh-lay with me.” As she struggled with the English, I leaned down to be closer to her face as I  watched her mouth. “What?”, I said.
“Mommy Amy, puh-lay with me.”
“Play with you? what do you want to play?”
“Puh-lay with me!”
“Ok, we’ll play tomorrow. We’ve got to sleep first tonight.”

She plopped down on my mattress as I began readying for bed. She just looked at me and was watching me get ready…and then it hit me.

Pray. She wanted me to PRAY with her.

I had told her a couple days before that she should be reminding me about praying every night – she loved devotions and prayer time and even though she knew the answer, she would ask multiple times throughout the day when and if we were going to pray, so I told her that her job was to remind me every night to pray. I can not even describe how important this makes her feel. She looks forward to prayer time each night more than anything else. (well, shopping in the supermarket might be a close second now.)

Pray. She wanted me to pray with her. And she wanted me to pray with HER. Just her. Not in the group…but just with her. Even though we had just finished our prayers to and devotions, she was reminding me again to pray…to pray with her.

I walked over to where she was seated on the bed, took her precious face in my hands, and said, “Let’s pray.”

She immediately slid off the mattress and her little knees hit the floor. I knelt down and wrapped my arms around her. That little head bowed down just like it knew it was supposed she had seen Mommy Amy do many times before. The braided hair fell across her forehead – the hair that is still so special and exciting. Having her hair braided for only the second time in her life, she could also thank Jesus for the hair. For the second time that night, her little voice repeated a prayer to Jesus. Her little mouth forming the English that is becoming more and more familiar with each passing day. She was so proud. Proud to be speaking the new English, proud to be kneeling down beside Mommy Amy, and so proud to be praying to Jesus.

My heart turned over. I love this little girl so much. In need of so much love, in need of so much care, in need of teaching, training, and guidance, she walked into my home and into my heart. As she talks to Jesus, I talk to Him, too. My heart swells with gratitude, love and pride, right before a wave of unworthiness washes over me. She is so precious – I do not deserve to have her placed in my care. Her heart is so tender – I do not deserve to have it placed in my hands. Yet, He has chosen me. Pitiful little unworthy me. What does she really see in me? Whom does she truly see coming through in every action, word, and expression on my face?

Does she see Jesus? does she really see Him? or do I just hope she does? Does she really know why I love her - because He first loved me? Because I have been given so much love, I am able to turn around and channel that love into her. Does she really know?

While watching her sweet face, I sit asking my Father…begging Him…to take this pitiful needy one that I am and use it to show her Himself. For wisdom to lead her, grace to be the example she so desperately needs, and love like His to pour into her open heart. I only pray that she will see in me all that she needs to see of Him.

After the “Amen.”, that little head raised up and beamed a huge smile in my direction. Off she went to bed after hugs and kisses. I slowly get up off the floor, turn the lights off and crawl into bed. Out of the darkness I hear that same sweet voice say, “Mommy Amy, good-uh-night.”
“Goodnight, Christine. I love you.”
“I love-uh you, too.”

Saturday, October 8, 2011

my little Donna

 While playing with Mommy on the bed just before bedtime, my little Donna started out so happy and laughing...and then after another little one stole Mommy's attention for a few seconds, she got upset. But thankfully, she was back to her happy laughing self after a few tickles and kisses. But her "upset" pictures were so cute that I just had to include them!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I sit alone in the darkness on a mattress with no sheet, no blanket – and pull the mosquito net down around me. We are still living in the boys quarters for a couple more weeks most likely, while our main house is painted. I had left my room and the 9 beautiful people in there with me sleeping soundly to move to another room…for one purpose: to cry my soul out before my Jesus. the events of the day weighing upon my heart. And I didn’t want to weep my heart out and wake the babies.
Sometimes people think it might be easy living here…doing this life. Being mother to 6 children under the age of 3; running a household in a foreign country; being the sole provider for so many people – having their lives depending on me for absolutely everything; not knowing many people, but more than that – not having many people really know me. It is not easy. It is very difficult at times.
But oh, it is so, so worth it.
In the darkness, Betty silently enters the room, lifts the mosquito net, and crawls in beside me. We had finished our prayer time together not long ago, yet the cares and burdens still seemed to be weighing so heavily on our hearts. She apologizes. I apologize. The stress and cares of this life threaten to overwhelm at times…and it wears on both of us. We snap at each other during the day and end up sitting there at night in the darkness as we cry. We pour out our souls to Jesus and to each other. I whisper a thanks to my precious Jesus for giving her to me. for the blessing of her life. For her love, support, and help.

The burdens. The chains. The weights.
Yes, carrying the burden that Jesus has given me to carry. The yoke He has given me to bear, the vision He has called me to bear, the responsibility that he has placed upon my shoulders. It may be heavy at times…but I know that He allows that heaviness to remind me to put the burden back onto His shoulders where it belongs. He allows the burden, the weight, the responsibility to fall hard upon my soul…so that I must fall to my knees under its weight. So that I must look up to the heavens and cry out for His help. So that I must press my face against the cold hard floor and praise Him in the storm. So that when everything falls apart, I must remember that it is His arms that hold me together.
When it becomes too much for me…then I know that I am once again trying to do this on my own. He gently whispers to my soul, “You were not meant to carry this burden alone. You were not meant to bear this vision alone…you were not meant to walk this road alone. I will carry you…if only you will let Me. Let Me, Amy. Allow Me to carry you; let Me sustain you…allow Me to lift your burdens. I was the One meant to carry them.”

Who does that?? Who else does that for me?
I look beside me to Betty and know that He has sent her to me. He has given her to me on this earth to be a bodily reminder that He is carrying my burdens He has given to me a friend who so badly wants to help carry my load, help me walk this path…live this life with me. The faces of my family back home come to my mind. The emails, the calls, the texts...
He not only figuratively and spiritually removes my burdens…He also sends angels my way in the precious forms of friends and family and even strangers. I’m sure you know exactly what I am talking about.

We are not meant to go this life alone. We are not meant to walk the straight and narrow with no other hands to grab onto when the way becomes so straight and the road becomes so very narrow…when I begin to slip off the edge because the weight is too much, the burden too heavy, the pressure too great…I look around and the only hands I have to grab onto have scars on them. Deep. Beautiful. Ugly. Nail. Scars. And it is these hands…these hard and yet, so very soft hands that I reach out for and cling onto as He pulls me back up from the edge of the narrow road.

I look into the eyes of my children and the cares, instead of increasing and becoming greater…they seem to almost evaporate in the complete love and adoration that I see in each pair of eyes. When I look at them in the candlelight, I can count my blessings…one by one sitting in front of me on the towel laughing and refusing to sit still. I get to bathe 6 filthy little bodies covered in red dirt, mucous, and food every night. I get to play “airplane” with the spoon and food. I get to change diapers all day long and change outfits several times a day. I get to wake up at all hours of the night to walk sleepy upset little bodies.

I get to. I get to.
The privilege. It is a privilege. And as I sit and tickle them and “scare” them with the stuffed animal dog late at night as I try to tuck them in, but end up getting them riled up more…He sweetly says, "This is your privilege."
I get to love them. I don’t have to – I get to. I get to carry the burden of their daily lives…together with my Jesus. I get to be yoked together with Him…and have the burdens of His heart become the burdens of mine. I get to have the chains of the Gospel become the chains that bind me to my Savior.
I get to. The privilege is huge. I get to live this privilege.
And as I walk back into my room and look at each sleeping head (even the head that fell down the stairs in an attempt to walk this evening and scared Mommy for a few minutes), I see the privileges lined up all in a row under the mosquito nets. My children who would rather sleep as close together as possible with Mommy rather than spread out on the big bed. My privileges. 

His yoke is easy…His burden is light…because He carries the enormous weight Himself. He gives us the light load, and chooses to carry the massive burden Himself. His shoulders are capable. They carried those horrible beautiful wooden boards down the cobblestone streets thousands of years ago…and He forces me to look at Him. watch Him carry that cross. Watch Him walk that road, carry that burden – the weight of the sins of the world on His shoulders, and He asks Me, “You think I’m not capable of carrying your burden? You think I’m not able to carry the weight of your soul? Look, Amy. Look at what I carried. Look at what I already did for you. Allow Me to carry your burdens again….allow Me to bear the load.”
And so I kneel down. I kneel down and roll my burden onto the floor. I let it slide off my shoulders and back and let it land with a thud beside me. I glance over and see the nail scarred feet standing next to my burden. I watch those precious now nail scarred hands reach down, pick it up and confidently throw it over His shoulder. I glance up and look into the radiant face of my Savior smiling down at me. He lifts me to my feet, walks me to my bed, and tucks His precious child in for the night. Then sings over me the blessed words,

Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:29-30

Friday, September 23, 2011

"There is a place where the human fails, breaks down, turns to ashes. Hope has not a single foothold. In such an hour there is a perishing of everything unless the soul waits in silence for God only." 
- Amy Carmichael

Praying. Seeking. Waiting.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

my little Josiah

"Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven." 

- Henry Ward Beecher

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

She places her feverish little head in my lap. And wants to be held. Wants to be loved. Wants Mommy to make it all better.

I stand and smile as he toddles down the hall in his cloth diaper showing off his adorable walk, then I laugh when he notices me watching him, gets embarrassed, starts laughing and turns around to head back down the hall only to turn BACK around and come running into my arms.

She comes running up with shrieks of laughter and giggles when Mommy walks in the front door.

One precious child crawls – CRAWLS! – over to my feet and lifts up hands eager to be carried.

One little one just sits and grins from ear to ear, knowing she will soon be carried.

Another precious child doesn’t know about the laughter taking place behind closed doors, as she takes the ice tray out of the freezer and in complete confusion as to why it is in the freezer and complete disgust at people putting ridiculous looking items in there in the first place, she throws it in the sink – ice cubes and all.

He stands up, then sits down. Then stands up again, then sits down – all the while smiling and laughing at this new found ability. And my heart doesn’t quite know what to do. Part of me wants to sit and cry for hours over the need to even be thrilled about one baby crawling at 2 years old, or about another standing at 2 yrs old, or about one going 3 weeks without getting deathly sick again. And the other part of me wants to just laugh and rejoice over the smiles and happiness and love on each face in my home.

And I stand amazed…just before I fall to my knees in gratitude – thank you Jesus for allowing me this privilege; I cry out in humility – I do not deserve this nor am I capable, but that is when He whispers in my ear, “You are not capable – but I am.” Yet again, bringing me before His feet. One more time, He beckons me to the cross. 

I hear Luganda. Spoken all the time in my house. I walk through and hear women chatting, laughing, children playing, music playing. And I am thankful. I am reminded of where I am. And of who God has blessed me with. In my home. Living with me…I am surrounded by these precious people, their beautiful language, their culture. I am humbled. I pause in the middle of the hallway, smile, and say a prayer of thanks. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

We lay in bed and cuddle. She touches my face…I wake up to the touch of my  little girls’ hand on my cheeks, she rubs mommy’s cheeks to wake her up and then she starts squeezing if I don’t wake up fast enough and play with her. we lay inches apart and I get to stare into her beautiful face her big brown eyes and watch her laugh as we touch noses.
She puts her little black hand in mine and it looks perfect. She plays with my fingernails, and plays with mommy’s hair, and she giggles as I tickle her, and we say, "I love you" about a hundred times. Her eyes sparkle and dance almost as she gets mommy’s attention and love. My little girl loves me. My heart is overwhelmed. This little girl I never though I would see again, much less have as my daughter. Tears form as I thank God and smile into her precious face and she tries to wipe them off of my face confused, but mommy is still smiling, so it must be ok. I am so blessed. Beyond blessed.
I just can’t get enough of her; I drink her in. This precious bundle of blessings. I love her so much. This is truly the child I have prayed for. She just wants to lay on my chest and cuddle. She just wants to be as close to mommy as possible. She lays her little head on my shoulder and rubs my arm. She just likes to lay and rub my arm.
She cradles my face in her two little hands and I hold hers too.

I am beyond thankful. And grateful to God. Grateful doesn’t begin to describe. It doesn’t begin to tell of the emotions of the last year, of the cries of my heart begging God, the prayers going up on behalf of this child…my child. I try to thank God and praise Him for her precious life and all that He has done – for giving her back to me…and most of the time I just end up weeping. It is hard for me to even get out from the depths of my heart how much this child means to me.
Her smile is contagious. Her laugh infectious. Her touch so sweet and warm.
She crawls on top of me and just wants mommy to hold her. She wants to be as close as she possibly can be to mommy.

And I cherish every moment. 

I cherish every moment.

Friday, August 19, 2011

One of those days

One of those days.
When she’s crying for my attention. When she needs some extra love. When she just wants some attention. When she wakes up just wanting Mommy to hold her.
One of those days.
When I realize that nothing on my to-do list is as important as letting her fall asleep on my chest.
One of those days.
When I realize that nothing else really matters as long as she knows that I love her.
One of those days.
That requires extra time set aside to just tickle and giggle.
One of those days.

I am so thankful for those days. Those days that remind me what life is really all about. What really is important. What really matters in the long run. What really would matter if I were not here tomorrow…

and this is Love.
He is love. We are to be love. I am to be showing that love to others as I have been shown that love myself. I want to be loving my Jesus more and more each day, and loving others more and more each day. Being that love…that Love that is only found in Christ.
I want my little girl to know that she is loved. Completely. 100%. Loved.
I want my Savior to know that He is loved. Completely. 100%. Loved.
If tomorrow never happens…if my to-do list never happens…did I love? Did I love my Savior with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? Did I love those in my life, those closest to me here on earth?Did I love those He brought into my life as He would love them? Did I show them Jesus? Did I lead them to the cross?

I want to love.

I want to let it be one of those days.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

“The Hand that Rocks the Cradle is
    the Hand that Rules the World”

“BLESSINGS on the hand of women!
        Angels guard its strength and grace.
      In the palace, cottage, hovel,
          Oh, no matter where the place;
      Would that never storms assailed it,
          Rainbows ever gently curled,
      For the hand that rocks the cradle
          Is the hand that rules the world.

Infancy's the tender fountain,
          Power may with beauty flow,
      Mothers first to guide the streamlets,
          From them souls unresting grow—
      Grow on for the good or evil,
          Sunshine streamed or evil hurled,
      For the hand that rocks the cradle
          Is the hand that rules the world.

Woman, how divine your mission,
          Here upon our natal sod;
      Keep—oh, keep the young heart open
          Always to the breath of God!
      All true trophies of the ages
          Are from mother-love impearled,
      For the hand that rocks the cradle
          Is the hand that rules the world.

Blessings on the hand of women!
          Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
      And the sacred song is mingled
          With the worship in the sky—
      Mingles where no tempest darkens,
          Rainbows evermore are hurled;
      For the hand that rocks the cradle
          Is the hand that rules the world.”

        William Ross Wallace

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

“My baby”, she moans. “My little boy is gone. He’s gone forever. My precious baby”, she chokes out through the sobs that wrack her body.

I held this precious mother as she sobbed in my arms. I stroked her hair as she cried for her baby. As this precious mother mourned the loss of her baby, my heart broke yet again. Inside I cried out, “God, how many times? How many times must my heart break like this? How many times must my heart be ripped in two? How many times must a mother’s heart be broken over losing a child? God, help us. Please, please hold us close.” 
I held her close until the heart-wrenching sobs subsided and her body stilled. She wept until no more tears could come.
The loss of a child. I sit here and can write, as I never thought I would be able to – never WANTED to be able to – that I know.  I KNOW.
I know the pain. I know the feeling of loss. I know unbearable pain of separation. I know the depths of sadness, of grief, of heartache. I know what it is like to mourn the loss of your beloved child. This was not on my list of things to accomplish in life: know the pain of losing a child. Nope. Not what little girls sit and dream about when they are young. It certainly wasn’t in the plans for my life when I laid them all out nicely…but God’s plans are bigger. His ways are higher. His thoughts are higher than mine.
And he asks me to submit. To surrender. To follow. To hold tight to His hand as he leads me through the fire.

The depth of the pain is hard to describe. I wanted someone who understood. I wanted someone who knew what I was going through. I wanted someone to empathize with me. Not to sit there and tell me it would be ok. I had lost my child – my child. “How is it going to be ok??”, I wanted to scream. “I lost my baby.”
Yet as I searched, desperate for someone – anyone – to understand me, I found only the face of God. The face of God. I came face to face with the Father. I came face to face with His heart. I saw the scars of His pain. I saw the pain of loss in His eyes. The wounds of His heart. The ripping of His heart in two. The agony He felt. He took me to the place, to the time, to the day He lost His child. His only child. His beloved Son. He took me there. and showed me His perspective - His view on the day my Savior’s blood was poured out for me. He let me walk through the events of that day with Him…and experience just a millionth of the agony He felt when His Son breathed His last. He whispered, “I know, Amy. I know. The excruciating pain you are experiencing, I experienced it all. The depth of loss, the separation, the agony, the grief…I understand.”
And as I sat. and watched with Him as my Savior, His Son, bled and died – I saw the Father’s face. I saw the pain etched there.
He whispered as He held me close during some of the darkest moments of my life, “I am here. I have felt your pain. All that I am asking you to endure, I have already endured Myself. I KNOW. And I will carry you. I will see you through the fire. The other side is sweet, Amy. Heaven is still yet to come.”

And so, just as He gently turned me to Himself, I gently turn her to the Father. To the One who truly understands. To the Someone who can truly empathize. To the Someone who will not just turn a sorrowful face toward her, but who will turn one of hope. One of true Hope. He turns toward us a face of understanding, of compassion, of unfailing love.
He did not just turn a sorrowful face in my direction, but he cupped my face in His hands and lifted my eyes upward. Heaven is still to come. Heaven is still waiting. The best is still yet to come. He turned my eyes to Hope. He turned my face to the heavens and promised joy in the morning. He promised to turn my weeping into laughter. He promised bright hope for tomorrow. He was the One who could hold my heart. He could take my sorrow, my questioning, my anger, my confusion, my pain, heartache, and grief…put it all on His shoulders…and then pick me up and carry me through. He carried me through. Even when I cried, rejected His love, fought His healing, questioned and doubted His love…he carried me. He loved me even more; He drew even closer to my broken heart during my darkest moments.

And so, to this grieving, hurting mother, I could truthfully say, “I understand. I know.”
But more than me being able to say I understand…I can point to a Father who understands more. And who loves deeper, and heals completely, and can perform miracles in taking it al and making it all work out for good when all we can see is bad.
This Father lost it all. He lost His only – His ONLY – Son.

I can hold her close and whisper words of encouragement and love only because I know. I know Who holds both of us in His mighty arms. I know Who has us wrapped in His grace. Who holds our lives in the palms of His hands. Who is carrying us through every moment of pain and grief – Who gently yet securely holds our hearts close to His. Who lets circumstances and events in our lives happen only after being sifted through fingers of complete and total love. I know Who will heal.
I know.

We find it all…everything we need…in the face of God. So I say to her, I say to me, and I say to you…seek and find the face of God. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I heard peals of laughter coming from the babies' room, so I hurried in to see what was so exciting: baby powder. Everywhere. Happy faces. White powder all over the room and the bodies who had found it. Such excitement - I had to get pictures before I nicely told my toddlers not to do it again :)

always cute. 
even when in trouble or covered in baby powder (or both!)

"I need Thee"

“I need Thee every hour…”

The words float through the air as my soapy hands lift high above my head.

“in joy or pain…”

Tears form and spill down my cheeks into the dishwater.

“come quickly and abide or life is vain…”

My head lowers over my kitchen sink in awe of my Savior.

"I need Thee, Oh, I need Thee. Every hour I need thee, oh bless me now my savior, I come to thee."

I need Him every hour. Oh, how I need Him every hour. How life truly is vain – unless He is with me, unless I am with Him. Unless He abides in me…and I in Him. Unless His love is coursing through my veins, there is no purpose in my life. I need Him, oh, I need Him.

I run to Thee. Come almost doesn’t seem to be strong enough a word. I don’t just come to Thee, I run to Thee. Pushing all else aside. I come running. Arms open wide, hands raised, heart desperate to be loved, soul needing to be held and cherished: I run.

As the hymns played…as my soul was bared before my Savior…as the tears streamed…as my voice rang out in praise to my God…I felt free. I felt lifted. I felt at home. I felt at peace. I felt like I belonged. I felt like I am who I really am.                        

There are times when I do not feel like I am Amy Washington.
At least not the Amy Washington I am used to. At least not the Amy Washington I have known for most of the years of my life.
I have cried many tears, been very frustrated and confused, and felt so discouraged at times…simply because it would hit me – I am not me. Since being back and living in Uganda, I am not me. I do not seem like the same person. I would even tell people, “I miss myself.” The Amy Washington I know is confident. Capable. Knowledgeable. Intelligent and smart. And I say all of this not in a prideful way, but with utter humility and humiliation. I am used to the Amy Washington who can “do anything”. Who knows it all. Is the problem-solver, not the problem-creator. The Amy Washington I know is not a burden to others or the “prayer request” – she is the one doing the praying for others. She is the rock. The steady one. The logical, sensible, reasonable one.
But this Amy Washington. The one in Uganda. The one who left America and came to Uganda – again. The one who can’t light the charcoal stove correctly. Who can’t cook  with Ugandan food. Who doesn’t have a vehicle. Who doesn’t know where the best doctor is. Who doesn’t know what Ugandan medicine to give. Who burns dinner.Who knows seemingly nothing. Who is not capable. Who can’t speak the language or understand what her children are saying to her. Who doesn’t know the cultural differences and messes up. Who gets sick all the time. Who is most of the time an absolute mess.

This Amy Washington.
I get frustrated with.
This Amy Washington.
Is harder to be.
This Amy Washington.
I am still not used to.
And yet this Amy Washington.
Is still the same.

I am still the same, and yet I am so different. I have been changed since stepping onto the red dirt soil of Uganda for the first time two years ago. God has changed me. and Honestly, I do not want to go back to the Amy Washington that I knew before. That Amy Washington was too confident in herself. Didn’t rely on God for strength for every moment and every decision she made. That Amy Washington would yes, have her “quiet time” and sing to the Lord, even cry out to Him when the troubles and very hard times of life hit…but she didn’t weep while holding a dying baby in her arms and have to silently beg Jesus to give her words to say to the father who just lost his first born son. She didn’t fall on her face in her bedroom and cry over the heartbreaking life experiences of her so-young child. She didn’t know the desperation of starving people…not really. She didn’t know the faces of the orphaned…not really…not like she now knows the faces of her own children. She didn’t know the fear of a young expectant mother terrified of dying and leaving her unborn child with no one...not really. She didn’t know what the groans and cries of a mother who has lost her beloved child sounded like…not really.

That Amy Washington didn’t know…really. She may have thought she did or thought she had an idea…she didn’t.
This Amy Washington knows…really. 

And although painful, and heart wrenching and difficult and draining…these things are a blessing. All of these experiences and people and the life I now live…has drawn me closer to my Savior. And if that is what it took, I praise His holy name with everything inside of me.

Amy Washington is always changing…to, Lord-willing, be more like her Jesus. She is still the same Amy Washington who daily, hourly – minutely – needs her Savior. And she is changing to need her Savior even more every day, hour and minute. It may look different; I may be on another continent, but my Jesus reminds me…I am the same Amy Washington, just always changing. And He is still my same constant Savior, never changing. My heart still yearns for His love. My soul still longs to worship. My body still desires to serve.

And so…I wash dishes. I stand before my sink as I stand before my Maker.And in this moment...I feel like Amy Washington. I feel like I truly am the Amy Washington who belongs solely to Jesus Christ.
My heart is still the same. No matter what country. No matter what continent. No matter which house. No matter surrounded by which people. My heart is still His. I am still my Savior’s beloved. I am still God’s child. I still cry out for my Savior. I still so desperately need His love and grace.

I’m still the same normal, crazy girl who stands at the kitchen sink with pajamas still on at 2pm, hair still wet with hair dye from morning attempts to hide the gray, soapy hands  raised above her head, and heart poured out before her Savior.
Yes. I am still me. Much might have changed. Much might be changing. Much will change. But Jesus gently reminds me, “You are Mine. Your heart is Mine. And that will never change. You still need Me. Every hour…you need Me. and Amy, that, too, will never change.”

“I need Thee every hour in joy or pain.
Come quickly and abide or life is vain.
I need Thee, Oh, I need Thee. Every hour I need Thee.
 Oh, bless me now my Savior. I come to Thee.”