Sunday, February 10, 2013


I attended a Tai Chi/Yoga combo class yesterday. And, like many yoga classes, there was a section designated for relaxation at the very end. Instead of guided visualization, she just had us focus on breathing in and out and relaxing our muscles for a couple of songs.
Afraid my ADHD would kick in and I'd start using those songs to start stressing about planning the rest of my Saturday, I found myself thinking of a technique I'd picked up somewhere from either a previous yoga class (I took it once as a college elective), or growing up as a therapist's daughter. In this technique, one is supposed to "breathe in" positive ideas or attributes they desire for themselves, and visualize them becoming a part of their body, and "breathe out" negative thoughts or habits they want to be released from.

Breathe in. Love, light, blah blah blah- those are so cliche, Amanda. This is ridiculous.
Breathe out. Oh, shoot. Is it time to breathe out already? Um, quick I'm almost out of breath...negativity! I'll do better next round.

Breathe in. Okay. Try again. Love for others. Ability to love myself. Accepting God's love for me.
Breathe out. Anger. Bitterness. Negative thoughts. Thoughts about [his name here]. Ohhh, [his name again]. 

Breathe in. Love. Just dwelling on the word love. Breathe it in, love. And hope.
Out. Fear. Anxiety. Pain. Missing him. Insecurities.

Getting easier now...

In. Patience. Love. The ability to recognize blessings already around me.
Out. Lies. Worthlessness. Loneliness. Hatredbitternessjealousy---

IN. God's love for me. His plans. Knowing it's going to be okay no matter---
OUT. Pain. So much pain. Get out. I'm just so tired of hurting. Physically, mentally, emotionally---

IN. Energy to get things done today, freedom from my negative thoughts, HEALTH. Feeling better again. 
OUT. Depression. Sadness. Thoughts and emotions that paralyze me.

It was becoming easier by the moment to rattle off things I needed to get rid of. I'd run out of air in my lungs and before I knew it, there were things I needed to get better at just waiting in line, too.

Breathe in. Forgiveness. The ability to matter how much I'm hurting.
Breathe out. Fear. Fear of the future. Of loss. Of never finding. Of never getting out. Of pretty much everything.

And on and on it went. Felt like forever, but I had an endless list. Some were repeats because I really had to focus on getting them through my head, or letting them go. A lot of which I won't share with the general public if I share this [entry in actual, tangible journal] with the internet community, which I probably will because maybe there are a lot of us who need to take an inventory of the mental trash that builds up and needs to be purged from time to time.

By the end of the song there were tears rolling down from the corners of my eyes and I woke myself from my near-nap state because I had to actually choke back a sob that I didn't realize was about to emerge. There was some verse in the song that I'd been barely noticing as background noise until at that very moment,  at which the singer said "ten thousand angels by your side," which somehow only made me want to cry more because I felt less alone.

[Then I had a fleeting thought and almost got bitter about how the music choice could've been a direct reflection of how most Christians don't like the guided visualization part of yoga classes and maybe this teacher was trying to cater to her audience in Bible Belt, TN...but none of it even mattered to me. I reigned in my wandering-towards-judgemental thoughts because it was a pretty song and somehow I needed to hear it and meditation is what you make it and we all could use a little time to ourselves in prayer, meditation, or even an amalgamation of both, even if it's in the middle of a fancy workout studio, surrounded by rich, middle-aged women who could probably afford to come to this class as many times as they wanted to yet here I was having some sort of emotional breakthrough in the middle of a free class on open house day. I am a weirdo.]

I wiped the escaped tears away,
rolled to my side and up to sitting,
and joined with those rich, middle-aged women in giving our teacher a "Namaste."
It's only now, a day later, as a write this that I wonder what went on in their heads, on their mats.

And, I wish you all who might be reading this the best of luck in whatever mental battle you may be fighting at the moment. May we all be able to take control and simultaneously let go of control where need be, and find blessings in the least likely of places.


Saturday, June 4, 2011


I don't write much these days. To tell you the truth, I haven't created much of anything these days and I think it's leaving me desolate. If we're made in His image and he is the Creator, isn't it too part of our nature to do so? Or is this desolation a direct reflection of my waning connection to the one who made me?

Either way. Inside I'm dying, but I choose to live. Each day can be a big struggle internally, but sometimes I'm granted the strength to make it through. It often seems like I'm at the mercy of my hormones or some tiny invisible chemicals which may or may not be clearing from betwixt a synapse correctly. If only it were as easy as taking a pill to regulate things; maybe it is, but if I may try to explain that just the act of trying to take a pill every day despite reminders, or the chore of contacting a doctor and scheduling an appointment then also asking off of work and having the time of day during work to do that then actually getting a prescription that doesn't cost an arm and a leg that also works?! It may seem silly but this battle that rages inside of me is enough to have kept me away from getting help for the past 2 years. It's also the moments of," I'm fine, I'm happy enough to do this alone," or "With God's help I can beat this," or "I'll start the pills I have left then call," and then don't....which screw you over.

Why am I being so candid? I don't know. It's a moment of vulnerability I suppose, as I read inspiring words of strong women I know; and it's a return to the blogging style that I've adopted from the very get-go of an angelfire html blog in 1999, through xanga and myspace and facebook which has now landed me here... and even though this is my blog for all things Uganda it all ties in. I'm afraid deep down that the fear which grips me and tells me I'll never be free of this deep sadness keeps me from accomplishing the things I need to get back to the country I love, or explore new countries, and even from the life God wants me to have.

Me owning it is my way of fighting back. Depression, you may ebb and flow within me on a chemical level, but my spirit is fortified by one who holds all the power I need to make it through. I can still have a purpose, and I can still fulfill it despite these teensy troubles which you try to make seem like mountains. Also, I have put my foot down and finally found the energy to attempt another doctor's appointment. I'm not too proud to take a pill. Be in prayer with me, anyone who is reading, that Tuesday goes well and I can find something affordable to help with the physiological side of things. I'm ready to move on. From any attack possible. I'm fighting back, and all guns will be blazing.

(this is for anyone who may also be living in fear, or in self-defeat. there are times we can choose, or not choose, to wallow...and times to own it and fight back. praying you may glean any inspiration to move forward with me. love.)

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Boys I Love

It may never be the 100% super hip flashiness of a website that one dreams of, but for now, the website for Caring Place Boys' Home is up and able to take donations. One of the boys has been in the hospital with malaria, Sera has been in and out of doctor's offices since a boda accident, and Daniel has undergone a lot of medical treatment after a fall from a tree at school... the boys will be starting a new semester soon and there are so many financial needs overall. I don't know where all the finances are going to come from or have been coming from, but I am determined never to let these boys go back to the streets ever again. They have a home, they have education, and a hope to break the pattern of their parents' mistakes... will you join with me in supporting however you can? Even 5-10$ here and there if you think of it...or a recurring donation each month...even a one time donation if you have the change today? together we can do this.

Monday, January 24, 2011

God Knows.

The last few weeks were at the same time a whirlwind, and a lifetime. I never make many posts while in Jinja because I'm happier not spending time at the internet cafe when I could be holding dear Debra or watching the boys play cards or run around racing tires (I'm not sure what the tire-stick activity is actually called, guys, any help?).

Saying goodbye to the Caring Place boys is something that has stayed with me since Saturday morning and will stay with me every time I glance down at my wrist or think of them... Ugandans are notoriously bad with goodbyes. Usually their way of showing sadness is to not show it, to look down as they address you, or look away. This time there were hugs, handshakes (while still looking away), and more hugs. I looked at Matt and Meddie, one of the older guys, was tying a friendship bracelet around his wrist. Then Monday was tying one on me. Daniel, Dennis, and more of the boys joined around, frantically running to their rooms to find some bracelet, some gave us drawings, and others, little trinkets. I ended up with two slinkies around my arms as bracelets before it was all through, as well. These things that I had seen them wearing around which had been given to them, they wanted to share with us to remember them by. I made a mental note to send back some new bracelets of our own to them to repay their kindness, and to justify accepting some of their few posessions. Those sweet boys.

"Auntie, when are you coming back?" some asked, and others more specifically inquired," Auntie, which month are you coming back?" to which I could only reply the typical Christian Ugandan response of "God knows," which I like because it is true and vague at the same time. Sadly vague. But I felt more peace about the fact that God does know. I don't, but he does. And I feel like he's bringing me back still, though I do not know the date.

The faces, the hands which were tying on bracelets, are etched in my memory, traced into my palms from countless greetings and handholds, and invisibly grabbing hold of my heart.

Where I expected downcast glances, or difficulty even rounding some of them up out of their rooms so early for goodbyes... we instead were followed across the lawn and down to the street to catch our boda motorcycle back to Bukaya. All of them, waving in the street, us covered in bracelets and holding papers and small toys, shouting I love yous... I barely made it onto the back of that boda before I lost it. It's a long ride to Bukaya in silence with your driver, but the wind is very efficient when it comes to whipping away the evidence... all I could think was God, you know. Please bring us back.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Monday we made the trek to Kampala to meet up with Chris and Katie Sasser, who were there because their youngest son Logan had misplaced an airsoft pellet in his ear. Despite the circumstances, we were grateful for the ride back to Kaihura (you’ll see why later). The Sassers are missionaries with Global Support, based in Nashville, and are about 2 years into their 5 year stint in Kaihura. Their house has come a long way from the plot of land and various iron windows and doors I remember carrying up from the roadside welders in 2009 with the Nashville team (many in Kaihura send their greetings to you guys, by the way).

Kaihura is like an oasis compared to the day in Kampala traffic, and then the hour and a half long stretch of construction which sent us jumping from our seats to the ceiling as Chris skillfully navigated speed humps and bad Ugandan driving, and I tried not to look at the edges of the road which plummeted straight down into gullies. In Kaihura, the madness stops and you are greeted by smiling faces, little girls bowing out of respect as they shake your hands, and Maureen, one of the cooks, directs you to a table set with delicious matooke (mashed boiled plantains), cabbage, irish (potatoes) and sodas.

We are supposed to begin building a well on Tuesday, but as is common in Uganda, we find out that it is not yet ready, so Matt and I headed to the Home Again orphanage to greet the little ones. I was excited to meet Paige, a sweet little preemie who had just arrived in 2009, and didn’t look like she had grown much over the past 2 years. She has hemiplegic CP, but has recently begun to receive some physiotherapy consultation and the staff at Home Again say she has really improved. Cute kiddo, but she sure does know when a PT is in the room. Stubborn tears aside, she participated really well for me. There was also a little boy named Moses whose grandparents had come by to visit. He was 6, and just recently began to walk. I was able to talk them through some exercises for strengthening and later saw them as we were boda-ing down the street. I love being able to see someone on the street here and greet them with waves and smiles…it really makes the village feel a lot smaller.

There was also a youth conference going on all week, so we periodically popped in and out to hear people speaking (including Katie), and join in some singing. God was definitely all around us this past week, His Spirit seemed almost palpable in Kaihura. I don’t know how else to describe it, but Katie was using the example of faith in God being like knowing the wind is there because you can feel it… and if you close your eyes in Kaihura, I imagine you can even feel God’s touch in that wind. Cheesy maybe. But true.

Wednesday and Thursday were well-diggin’ days. I know Matt was really looking forward to this part, and being able to get his hands dirty. I was almost dreading it because I know I am “She of Little Upper Body Strength” and if Ugandans let you do a task they are quick to take a shovel or hoe back from you if you’re inefficient. However, it really wasn’t that bad. The well was being built in a community called Busanza, about a 15 min drive from Kaihura along some back roads off of back roads, which the community was machete-ing to make wider even as we drove up. What I was most impressed with was the community turnout. There were at least 20 people clearing the roads, and 20-30 more adults and children who showed up to help at the well on Wednesday. I think one of the greatest attributes of the Know Think Act program is that all of the money donated through it really does go directly to each designated project, and then the Sassers or whoever is on the ground at the time, along with a local organization, are out recruiting the community to become involved and supply the work to get it done. Impressive in action.

Their current water source was about a 100 yard hike from where we parked our car, a nice shaded, steady stream of fairly clean looking water. Unfortunately, so low to the ground that many who were there were filling up smaller bottles and then having to pour them into the standard sized jerry cans to hike back to their families. The stream of water was manually diverted and the digging began, and the rest of us began the first of MANY trips carrying the large stones which would line the box well from the parking clearing all the way back to the site. And that, my friends, is how muscles are made…

I remember one trip in 2007 where I carried a pack of TP on my head from main street to Amani’s Vol House… I mean, if the locals are going to giggle at Mzungu, we might as well give em something to giggle at, right? Well, I decided to see what just one trip from the clearing to the well site might feel like while carrying a stone on my head, as many of the women and even the tiniest of little girls were doing. One of the women laughed as she fashioned me a grass wreath for a cushion.

Now, those of you who have known me the past 6 months know of the migraines and neck pain I have been having, and those of you who might be coworkers reading this might acknowledge that the worst thing I could do for my cervical spine would be to put a few kilos of compression through it with stones. But let me tell you this tiny/large, surprising miracle… it didn’t hurt. One bit. In fact, it was easier. What?! And so my trips continued on both days. Rocks on head. A silly-looking Mzungu, inwardly praising for the temporary relief of pain to assist with the task at hand. Let it be known that you CAN carry more weight on your head than in your arms!

We didn’t get to see the finished well by the time we left on Friday, but that was okay. It was great participating, and seeing the process. Also, some of your donations were put through the Nashville Cares group towards that very well, so when we post photos, they’re really your dollars at work, making change. Thank you- webale muno, in Ritoro.

I also got the privilege of working with a woman named Faith (not Kunihira Faith, though she is always a pleasure to see, but this Faith works at the Hope Again clinic) to reinforce a treatment plan for Paige and review some treatment options for other patients she had. She was very quick to pick up the hands on techniques, and even though Paige knew it was therapy time, there weren’t as many tears working with her as this strange, super-white person J

Thursday night we rode to Fort Portal for dinner, and that night after packing up I hung out with Juliet, Robina, Liz, Esther, and Christine… some crazy wonderful girls who live at Faith’s house. It was kind of a Ugandan girls’ night… we painted fingernails, helped take out braids (ouch!), sang praise songs, and then sang/danced to some Ugandan children’s rhymes (Casey, Shelby, you guys might remember the statue game!). Very fun.

I’ve written a ton that you guys are probably skimming, so I’ll save the trip back to Jinja for its own entry. I’m not so great at taking the time to blog here, for obvious reasons such as making every moment here count… thank you for prayers and support. I see it in action every day, and we’ve only been here a week or so. But thank you.

Water diverted for well building

Faith working with Paige on the therapy ball- she's a natural!

Katie speaking at the youth conference

I loved that little one's rock-carrying skills

girls' night!

Friday, December 24, 2010


It's Christmas Eve, and I've escaped the Nashville potentially-white Christmas cold and traded it in for Sunny and 62 in Ozark. I'm sitting outside an Arby's, my only known free-Wifi spot (any suggestions, Ozarkians?), checking emails and corresponding for the trip. Guilt has begun to set in about leaving my family, most importantly my mom, and taking this trip. I received a disturbing letter from a friend of hers telling me her health was bad and I needed to "step up and move home" to be with her. Details aside, Mom's not doing great but she's definitely not to the point of non-independence at home. I think she's bored here, but all in all ok for now. Or is she? Am I being selfish living my life so far away? Trying to get in as much as possible of my dreams, to include African living and serving, before I potentially get stuck in this town for the rest of my life? All of this plagues my mind and heart, because I love my mom so but I am desperate for this life and one day a family of my own...seeing myself as a caregiver is so far off. I'm not ready. I'm incomplete.

I see great inspiration from the family unit in foreign countries... the feeble, the extended family, the orphaned are all taken in by those viable, if able. I don't want to be part of a culture that rejects the old, sends them to assisted living but never visits... I wonder if our culture though just doesn't always lend itself to it... What more could I even do, working 40 hours a week, to take my mom to the doctor or supervise her at home? I'd still need help. It's not practical to quit everything, and it's borderline irresponsible no matter what I'd do.

Regardless. This may get deleted. But for now, I pray for my mom's health, mental and physical. That God would be with her, heal her if possible, prevent worsening of things, and watch for her safety... to surround her with friends who are kind and patient. Church family. And to allow me to learn to be a better daughter, to love and care as Christ did....not just in Africa but here as well.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Coming together...

We are pretty grungy today. I guess you could say we are preparing for being covered in dirt and not worrying about washing/fixing hair or makeup, not ironing clothes... but we aren't really. The Christmas shopping has been combined with toiletry shopping, scouring deals on teen boy clothes and baby items that can be used with therapy, and setting aside money for Visas and taxis from the airport. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't stretched super thin right now.

When I told my dad we were going to Uganda again, he said," Oh that must be nice, to have the money to do that," with a slightly detectable sense of resentment in his voice. It stung. I told him that we DIDN'T, but were raising money as usual. My dad loves and supports me, but I know he must think we're foolish. Even sometimes I think I'm foolish. We've had a couple of great donors, but one can tell that around the holidays, and with the economy in this states, people are having a tough year. But I know that God will provide, and even if most of it comes out of pocket it is worth it. We will make it work. The part I most want to see take off will be if we can finally get the non-profit set up for the boys' home when we are back. Speaking of, anyone have an old beat up DSLR they wanna let me borrow to take to another country to gather good photos/profiles of the boys? Ha.

Enough wishing. Let me leave you with a little note of praise for what we HAVE gotten done so far... I am so excited about implementing this! If you have donated then THANK YOU for helping us with these projects and I will post pics after we get everything to UG!

- Purchased and cut PVC pipe to create parallel bars (therapy equipment for Ekisa)
- Baby rattles, blocks, a swiss ball and play mats for therapy sessions (Ekisa and Kaihura)
- Webbing/clamps to *hopefully* set up a therapeutic platform swing (Ekisa, pending available materials and lumber in Jinja)
- Clothing for boys home
- Vitamins for Racham Ministries
- Binders with pictures and how-to for pediatric therapy exercises

Can't wait to get everything over there!
Wish list if anyone wants to know what your money may go to:
- lumber/building supplies for Ekisa swing
- Well building project - go to and view the Action Group "Nashville Cares"- you can join the group and donate directly to any project on the site!
- therapy ball- would like to buy one more, on sale for $10
- Gummy vitamins per Racham Ministries request- $10/tub

More updates soon! Keep us in your prayers!

love love love.