Tuesday, May 29, 2012


At the beginning of the month, we were able to move into a beautiful new home.  We finally have enough room for us all and our own compound!

The boys love their new home and it is a miracle that we were able to move.  Our old home was so small and cramped.  When I told people about it, they usually just stared at me bewildered trying to figure out how we all fit.  Our neighbors hated us and so did our landlord.  There were always kids around, more than just the ones that lived there.  It was never quiet or calm.  Usually it was complete chaos.

When we were preparing to move, 2 street boys had been hanging around for quite sometime by that point.  They ate at the house everyday and sometimes even slept there.  When the other boys found out that they couldn't move with them, they were so upset!  When I called, they begged me to let them move with us.  I hadn't really made my mind up until I spoke to Ronald.

Ronald is as equally sweet as he is stubborn and strong-willed.  There were nights when we first moved into the house that he would insist I read 70 page books to him at once!  He rarely back downs or gives in.  He is a natural leader and the boys follow whatever he says.  Ronald was the ring leader in trying to get me to let the 2 other boys move with us.  He got everyone fired up and had the boys begging and pleading.  

When I finally spoke to Ronald, it was his selflessness that made me give in.  He begged me to let them move.  When I asked him why, he said because they had been on the streets for a while and deserved a chance.  He told me it wasn't fair for us to leave them behind, they were his friends and they should get to come to.  When I told Ronald that wasn't his choice to make, he said something that I will never forget.  He said, "Fine, I will stay behind, just let them go please."

He was willing to return to the streets, so his friends could have a better life.  

He was willing to go without, so they could have.

That is what I saw in him from the first time we met and why I love him so much.  I don't even want to share my room with anyone and he was willing to live on the streets again, just so his friends could have a chance.  He was ready to give up everything because he wanted his friends to have a chance.

Remind you of anything?

Jesus gave up everything for us, so we would have a chance.  He didn't have to.  But He loved us so much and believed that it was our time and we deserved a chance.  So he gave up everything, so we could live, so we could experience the greatest love of all, so we could be saved.

Ronald said that knowing if I accepted his offer, he would probably never have another chance.  But he offered anyway.

Jesus made the offer knowing the great pain He would endure.  But He offered anyway.

Everyday, I feel like Jesus speaks to me through these boys.  They are so hurting and broken, but their hearts are incredibly amazing and generous.  They push me beyond my comfort zone and teach me about true love and selflessness. They are the ones that challenge me to be a better person.

Needless to say, I let the boys move with us.  The newest 2 members of our family are John and David.  Sorry I don't have a picture of David yet.

Monday, May 28, 2012


I imagine every parent has big dreams for their kids, what they will be when they grow up, who they will marry, what kind of house they will live in, what kind of person they will be...

Even though I have been a parent to some of these boys for only a few months, I still have big dreams for them.  I know they are amazing kids.  I see how smart they are, how clever, how resourceful, how kind and compassionate.  I see them being doctors and lawyers.  I see them doing great things for their country.

But they don't.

I have always said that as long as they grow up into good, godly men that honor their wife and children I will be happy.  And that is completely and totally true.  However, I still dream and see the potential.

But they don't.

This weekend, reality kind of hit me full force.  I wasn't prepared for it and it broke my heart.  At the beginning of the school term, I pushed one boy to enroll even though he told me he didn't think he could handle it.  I assured him he could, encouraged him , and told him how smart I knew he was.  I pushed because as long as I have known him, he has wanted to be in school.  So much of his childhood was robbed from him and I didn't want school to be also.  I knew then, just like I still believe that he is smart and clever and he would excel in school.  But he has given up.

I couldn't convince him of what I saw in him.  He wouldn't believe that it would get easier.  He instead got down on his knees and begged me not to make him go back and to forgive him for disappointing me.  He said he was too old.  He was bigger than everyone at school, even the teachers.  He even informed me that now he was growing a beard.  He told me he felt like he was wasting time, he should be working.  He told me he was at an age where he should be working not studying in primary 3.  He assured me he would be fine in life even though he can't read or write.  He said many people are just fine and they don't speak English.

And with that, my dreams for him died.

If he was 10 years old, maybe I could make him go to school.  But he's at least 16, and he says 18.  He has been running his life for the last I don't know how long.  I can't make him do anything.  All I can do is suggest and hope he listens.

This time he won't.

Because of the injustice and unfairness of his life, now even his education has been robbed from him.  He isn't the only one.  There are others in the house that won't ever have stepped foot in the classroom.  Never, not once.  Education isn't a right in Uganda, it is a privilege.  And for too many, a privilege they will never have.

It isn't fair.  He shouldn't have to give up on his education.  But that is the reality of life in Uganda.  Doesn't matter how much you love school, and he really did, sometimes it doesn't even matter how well you perform at school, education isn't a right.  And many kids, now including some of mine, lose that chance everyday.

If I am this heartbroken over it, imagine how he feels....

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New normal

Recently, I read the title to something and it said, "Jesus wrecked my life."  I didn't read the whole thing, so I don't know what that person had to say or what it was about.  But after a hard last week with the boys, it made me think...

Jesus wrecked my life too and I couldn't be happier!

I am sure the other article was going in the same way I am but here is my version.

I grew up a Christian but that didn't mean much to me until a friend invited me to an amazing church about 6 years ago.  It wasn't until I found a church where I felt at home that my faith started to grow.  Soon I started to have a personal relationship with Jesus and finally started listening to what He wanted for my life.

Before God called me to Uganda over 2 years ago, I had big dreams.  Dreams of a big house and nice car.  Dreams of an amazing career working for the UN traveling all over the world or a professor teaching at a famous university writing tons of books.  I had lots of dreams and ambitions.  I dreamt of living in Chicago or another big city.  I had a wonderful life planned out in my head.  It was going to be amazing.  A life where I had everything I could ever possibly want.

And then Jesus ruined it...

God called me to Uganda and showed me it wasn't my life to live.  He showed me my life was a gift from Him and the greatest way to say thanks was to live a life that honored Him and to follow His will for my life.  So in essence, yes Jesus wrecked the life I had planned.  He turned it upside down and inside out.  But He also showed me it wasn't my life to plan out.  It was our Father's.  And He planned it a long time ago.

And good thing He did!

He has given me more than I ever could have dreamed.  He gave me things that I didn't even know that I wanted.  Nineteen "things" actually and hopefully more in the future.  Even though I had an amazing life planned out, the life God had planned for me is beyond amazing.  Epically amazing!

Sometimes it is difficult but He always gives me the strength and steps in when I miserably fail.  Last week was a difficult week with the boys changing schools.  The students and teachers at the new schools weren't being kind to the boys and were making fun of them for being so behind and so big in such low grades.  It really hurt the boys and some even refused to go to school.  Some came to their senses and went back after a day or so, but one boy stubbornly refused all week.  I was talking to a friend and I told her I couldn't wait for things to be normal again and she informed me this was my new normal.

New normal...

At first it scared me but then I realized...

I have 19 boys that I love so much.  I love them just as much on their good days, as on their bad.  Like any other family, we have our good days and bad.  We fight and argue.  We disagree and annoy each other.  And we challenge each other.  How we challenge each other!!!  But at the end of the day, this is the life God called me to.  Jesus ruined my life to bring me into His.  It is my new normal.  And I love every second of it!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What I miss most

What do I miss most about Uganda?

It isn't the kids.  Even though I miss them so incredibly much, there aren't words to describe it.  I do miss their beautiful smiles, their kindness, their jokes, their craziness, even how they do things just to drive me crazy.  I miss them every day, every second.  But I miss something else more...

It isn't the food, although I did make cabbage the other night how the kids do in Uganda.

It isn't the traffic or the dirt...

It isn't my dog or cat, although I do miss them and feel like I am never going to see them again at this rate...

It is one thing...


The thing I miss most about Uganda is God.  You might wonder how is that possible?  God is everywhere.  God is always with you.  And you are right.  But I feel his presence more in Uganda.  I have never felt closer to  Him, than when I am in Uganda.

Let me explain...

In Uganda, I know every day I am going to fail.  I currently have 18 boys in my home.  Eighteen boys.  Several have come after I left, some are just there for the school holiday.  But 18 boys nonetheless.  Eighteen boys that are so broken and hurting that somedays they just can't manage "normal".  The can't manage to have someone love them unconditionally.  They can't manage to have someone take care of them.  They don't know how to be safe and secure in a home.  They don't know how to not live on the streets because that is where they have lived for the last 1-10 years.

What do you do with that????

Absolutely nothing, because no matter what I try, I will fail.  I won't say the right things.  I can't convince them they are safe.  I can't make their heart change.  I can't make them stop gambling or doing drugs.  I can't do anything...

So I pray and I fast.

I turn everything over to God and I ask Him to change the boys.  I ask Him to bring them close.  I ask Him to change their hearts.  And He does.  I see Him working in the boys everyday.


And it is amazing!  I feel His presence in the house and I see successes because of HIM.

Even though there are only 18 boys in the house, where we were living before we were feeding an extra 5 or so boys every day.  Food went quickly.  There were always extra kids at the house.  One time in particular, when I was back in Uganda at the beginning of this year, food was almost over.  We had maybe 2 days left and I didn't have any money.  I didn't even have hope of getting any money.  And I had no idea how we were going to buy more food.

But I prayed and fasted.

Guess what happened?

We got money for food!  Not only did we get money for food but we were even able to buy sugar!  HUGE!

In Uganda, I have no choice but to trust God for every need.  I know I cannot do it without Him.  I trust on Him solely and completely.  I have no choice.


There is so much.  I fall into the trap of thinking I don't need Him.  Living in a country where everyone's only hope is that God is going to provide for them everyday is very different than here.  In Uganda, every day I pray for strength just to make it through the day.  I don't pray that here.  More or less, compared to Uganda, my life is easy here.

Point is, things that I pray for every day in Uganda, I take for granted here.  Because it simply is.  Because life is easier here, I find myself praying less altogether.

The first time I was back, I didn't understand what was happening.  I didn't know why I felt so far from God.  It wasn't and isn't because He went anywhere.  He is still right here with me, like always.  I just get caught up thinking I don't need to rely on Him as much.

Truth is, it is here when I need Him the most.....

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

Here is a video about the coffee company JUST LOVE COFFEE!  Take a few minutes and watch the video and then order coffee from our store to benefit the boys!