Thursday, September 20, 2012

She called me JaJa

She called me JaJa.

“Deanna, greet your JaJa Amy!”, my teenager said to her two-month-old infant daughter.

“Greet JaJa!”, she commanded her baby while laughing at my now stunned face.

Today…I think I became a grandmother. Well, I guess technically, I have been a grandmother for much longer than just today since the baby I am grandmother to is now two months old, but today…today it became real.

She called me “JaJa”.

In the local Luganda language, “JaJa” means “Grandmother”. My precious 14-year-old kept laughing right into my face as she so often does as she continued, “Mommy Amy, since I am your daughter, that makes my baby your granddaughter!”

I stood stunned and more than a little overwhelmed.

A grandmother…she just called me a grandmother. She just called her baby girl my granddaughter. But then…wait a minute...

My daughter. She called herself my daughter.

That almost hit me more in the gut than being called a grandmother did. And I sure would have expected it to be the other way around. But there she stood as she looked me in the face, eyes shining, face beaming, and proudly called herself my daughter. I didn't exactly know how to respond, as I gave her a huge hug and blinked back the threatening tears. 

I didn’t say it. I didn’t have to. She said it herself. Because she knew it to be true. She knew my heart, and most of all, my love for her.

A daughter of my heart. A daughter whose birth mother is so far out of the picture. Alive, yes. But for this 14-year-old heart, her birth mother might as well be dead, as that would probably be easier to accept and swallow than being rejected, abandoned, and left for dead. It hurts…but sometimes the truth does.

She called herself my daughter. Honestly, I have never outright said, “I am your mother.” It really isn’t that true…I did not give birth to her; I have no legal paperwork saying that she is “mine”. No. I didn’t have to tell her, “You are my daughter”, or have legal paperwork, or give birth to her. No. She just spoke it to me herself out of heart knowledge and poured more love and joy and such deep down blessings into my soul that if tears would not have ruined the moment, I would have cried a river. But...then again...

I was the mother.

I was the mother who welcomed her into my heart and life and gave her a home.

I was the mother who gave her food, clothes, a bed, and everything else that she could possibly need.

I was the mother who had compassion regardless of her swollen belly or how it came to be.

I was the mother who kept loving no matter how much she rejected my love and pushed away.

I was the mother who comforted and held her weeping body over sins and shame.

I was the mother who would sit, and play, and teach, and encourage.

I was the mother who would love through discipline and punishment.

I was the mother who was there…who threw the precious 14-year-old 9-month pregnant body wracked with labor pains into my van and sped to the clinic. 

I was the mother listed as the next of kin.

I was the mother who looked deep into fear-filled eyes and said, “You can do this.”

I was the mother who held on tightly as her teenage fingernails dug deeper into my skin with each contraction.

I was the mother who stood beside the bed speaking words of encouragement as she pushed that infant baby girl into this world.

I was the mother who wrapped and carried that still slippery seconds-old-newborn over to the weighing scale with tears running down my cheeks.

And I was the mother standing here taking pictures of the now two-month infant baby girl…my granddaughter. 

I was the mother.

…and now, I am the grandmother.

It all connected with her today. If I am her mother…then her baby girl is my granddaughter.
I won’t even try to describe the joy. Or the surprise. Or the blessing. Or the deep down pride…and yes, more than the little emotion that flooded by heart and mind in that moment….when she called me “JaJa”. I looked at that still so innocent 14-year-old face and her puppy-dog face baby girl and couldn’t speak. Words sometimes just can’t express. And they just don’t seem to be enough. And so…I pour out my heart and soul in desperate prayer. Desperate prayer for all of the guidance, wisdom, love and grace that I need and will need to fulfill this task that He has placed directly in front of me. To fulfill this task that He asks of me, and has so graciously and lovingly given to me. This task of mother…..and now grandmother. Loving and guiding this mother, so that she in turn can love and guide. I never would have dreamed that at age 25, I would be a mother to teenage girls…and a grandmother to infants. But “thankful” and “blessed” do not seem to adequately describe the pride and joy…the honor and privilege. Because…

She called me “JaJa”.

She said, “I am your daughter.” 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sandra & Dickens

“I am really just so thankful. I gave birth to a healthy beautiful baby boy last year in October. I am really thankful for the mercies of God upon my life. The Lord has been really gracious to me. Last year when I got pregnant, I thought that was the end of my life. I was so frustrated, so scared, and so disappointed. My mother did not have a job and my father had died when I was very young, so my mother had struggled bringing me up and providing for me. Before I got pregnant, I was in school and my grandmother was the one paying my school fees and supporting me. But when I got pregnant, my grandmother said that she would not support me anymore. She was so angry and disappointed in me. At this point, I didn’t know what to do. I thought about aborting, as all of my friends told me to abort and they were seriously worried about me giving birth. But I saw that my life would really be in danger if I tried to abort using the traditional herbal medicines that kill many girls who try to abort. So I decided to keep the pregnancy and not abort. 

I did not deliver naturally when I gave birth; I had to go for a c- section. I remember walking into that operation room when I was terrified; I thought that would be the end of my life. I did not look behind me at Mommy Amy, Aunt Betty and my mother. I couldn’t. Mommy Amy prayed for me before and then I walked into the operation room. I tried to be strong and brave as I saw lots of knives and sharp instruments but I honestly thought that I was going to die. I did not think I would make it. 

I prayed and said that Lord if today I am to die, let me come straight to you but please save my baby and keep it alive. But the doctors did the operation well and my baby came out alive and then after some hours, I also came out of the operation alive. I was so thankful that I made it. I was so grateful and appreciative that Mommy Amy had been there for me during this hard time. Tears would not stop running down my cheeks because of the happiness. I was so overwhelmed with joy.

I am so thankful that God has been my shield and strength from the time I gave birth to today. I thank Him for my baby boy (Dickens). He is 10 months old now and doing very well. He is learning how to crawl and smiles a lot. It has been really nice watching baby Dickens grow, smile and myself be a mother. I honestly did not know how I was going to raise him up as a single mother.  It has been hard for me, of course, but I thank God that through this time I have learned to accept the gift of motherhood to Dickens, love and care for him. I believe that he needs support and love from me and I am ready to do that as a mother for him. Mommy Amy has believed in me, encouraged me, and supported me through everything.

I really thank the Lord that Mommy Amy came into my life and I was connected to her by a friend that said she had a passion for helping young teenage mothers like me. When she heard about me she was so touched and convicted to support me. Mommy Amy took me for prenatal checkups and supported me from home where I stayed with my mother throughout my pregnancy. I felt so blessed and I am so thankful that someone out there cared about and loved me. Mommy Amy has been supportive with all that I need, even long after I have given birth. She checks on me regularly, has me and my baby, Dickens, over to her home for days, and continues to help support me when I need help. She has blessed my life more than I could imagine. 

I now believe in a bright future for my life, even after the pregnancy. I really want to continue with school and then go for a vocational training skill. I want to be a hairdresser :) and be able to raise money to support me and my baby. Thank you, Mommy Amy and everyone who has supported both her and me and my baby through her. Thank you for your love and support. May God bless you." 

Friday, September 14, 2012


“Christine” : “follower of Christ; anointed”

Oh, how I praise the Lord for the true living out and testimony of your name! Just recently while I was watching you, I had to stop and stand in awe of God’s love and blessings in my life and in the life of our family. Just over a year ago, you entered our everyday lives and became a forever member of our family. I look back on that day with so much praise, love and gratefulness…and a few tears. While heading home on that late night bringing you back from the village, I looked up at the stars and just prayed. Prayed that through God’s mercy I would somehow be a blessing to you, but sweet girl, you have been more of a blessing to me. I remember the day you asked Christ to come into your life this year, and the joy and happiness that filled you made me stand again in awe of Christ’s love for us and the miracles that He works in and through our lives. I continue to look forward to all that God is going to do in and through your precious life as you follow and serve Him. 
I love you, beautiful girl.

Matthew 16:24  “Then Jesus said to His disciples, 
‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’”

I believe that this will be your life, precious girl. As you continue to seek Christ, live your life for Him and follow Him with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. I only pray that I will be here to watch you grow and experience the Lord in new and deeper ways the more you grow and walk in Him. I can only pray that God will give me the grace, blessing, and privilege of continuing to pour into your heart and life, and lead you to the Savior each and every day. I love you. more than you’ll ever know. 

My little Donna

“Donna” : “lady; a woman of refinement and gentle manners”

1 Peter 3:3-5 “Do not let your adorning be external – with the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves.”

Baby girl, oh how I pray for your future. That you would not just be a “lady”, as your namesake and JaJa has been before you, but that you will follow her footsteps in following Jesus Christ with your entire being, and be a true “lady”…the lady that is a woman of God. That you would possess that imperishable beauty so beautiful in God’s eyes. My little Donna, my prayer for you is that you will grow up to be a woman one who fears and loves the Lord with all of her heart. A lady of true refinement and gentle manners…those manners and refinement that come from the Father’s hand. Keep smiling, cutie pie. and laughing, and giggling and singing and dancing and lighting up our lives. 

My baby girl. You are more adorable than I can put into words. And smarter than I can describe or even want to really admit. Your little hands in mine make me thank God for you and praise His name for bringing you into our family. Your laugh and your tears make Mommy laugh…you are just so cute that I can’t help but smile whenever I look at you. 
Thank you for being such a light in all of our lives. I love you, baby girl. 


“Josiah” : “The Lord saves; Jehovah helps”

My sweet little man. You may end up being the shortest in the family, but your little 2-year-old mind and heart love being the man. Thank you for making Mommy laugh and smile all day long. Thank you for your goofy little run, your lips-to-lips kisses, and your piercing scream for Mommy when you’re hurt. Thanks for telling me “Goodnight” all. day. long.  :) I love you.

2 Kings 22:2 “Josiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed the ways of his father, David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”

May you always live out the life of the Josiah whom God chose to set upon the throne of Israel. And live out your life following after the One who is seated at the right hand of throne of God at this moment. May you follow the godly kings who have gone before you…as you seek to live out your own life for the King. May you do what is right in the eyes of the Lord all of your days and never seek to turn to the right or to the left…but follow straight the path laid before you by your Father. 
I love you, precious boy. 


“Patrick” : “noble; nobleman; possessing outstanding qualities; very good or excellent”

One of my cuddle bugs. You are for sure Mommy’s little boy :)

The master of the grin. Not always the smile…but you have the grin down to perfection. And it shows your happiness so quickly. Your sweet eyes that you can cut just like your Mommy melt my heart. Thank you for loving me, sweet boy. Thank you for being my noble little prince.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, 
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable 
– if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

May this verse reign true in your life, sweet boy, all of your days. 
May you think on such noble things, and may you live such noble things. 
May you continue to grow, walk, and live uprightly, excellently, and nobly before God and man. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


"Joy" : "delight", "great pleasure", "jubilation", or "happiness".

One of the faces I look at when I need a reminder.

The eyes that I smile into when I need a strong dose of the joy that now resides within this tiny two-year-olds heart.

The ever-present-in-her-mouth thumb that I grab as she falls into my lap to make me laugh right when I want to cry.

The giggle that leaves me unable to to resist the joy that wells deep inside of me when I tickle her until she almost can't breathe.

My little Joy.

Isaiah 55:12 "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."

You truly are joy in my life, little girl. 
You bring joy, laughter and smiles into my life each day of yours. 
You do go out with joy and are led forth with peace...
may it continue for the rest of your days, my little Joy.


"Safina" : "Noah's Ark"
She is indeed my wild little zoo :) 
Never a dull moment, rarely without a smile, my little animal. 

Genesis 7:1 "The Lord then said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and your whole family, 
because I have found you righteous in this generation." 

May you be found righteous in this generation, Sweetheart.

Amina Hope

“Amina” : “Amen”
“Hope” : “to cherish a desire with anticipation; 
a desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment”

My “Amina Hope”

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, 
plans for welfare and not for evil, 
to give you a future and a HOPE." 
Jeremiah 29:11

You are my living miracle and my walking reminder of God's hope. 
You will always be my YaYa. WIth more memories than Mommy even wants to remember sometimes. But I look at you and sing praises to He is the One who places you into my arms...every. single. time. 
I love you, Pumpkin. 

What happens when Mommy realizes she hasn't done portraits in a while...

and when she realizes that Granddaddy, JaJa, GG, Aunt DeDe, Uncle Mark, Aunt Bekah, and Aunt Bethany haven't seen any updated

Pictures :) Pictures :) Pictures :)

...and fun photo shoots. (Everyone always seems to love the one-on-one photoshoot times with Mommy?!)

I know I'm prejudice and I'm just enjoying this part of being a Mommy, so....

I think they are the cutest things ever!!!!

(grandparents enjoy!! :))

reminder...all photos are copyrighted. thank you!