Day in the Life family photo session

As we look forward into 2018, the marking of time makes me realize just how quickly life changes. In the day-to-day, life trudges on slowly, but as I look back over a year, I see how much happened in those days. Family has grown, history has been made, and it's all we can do to keep up with it. What seems incremental may have been monumental.

It is the small moments I believe we will cherish when we look back, which is why we invited Emily Ward to come and capture "A Day in the Life" of our family. I wanted her to capture our small family in mid-2017, mostly because my breastfeeding relationship with Leo was coming to and end and I wanted something to savor from those special years.

Below are some of my favorites that Emily captured of our family in July 2017. Already, I look back on them with fondness.

For the love of home

With 2016 coming to an end, I started putting together a photobook of daily pictures.  I take one photo each day, write a bit about it, and at the end of the year, I compile all of these into a hardback book.  Last week, I read through these entries and I couldn't believe all we've done and everywhere we have been in 2016.  We've traveled so much and I've continued my work with a breastfeeding child, doing my best to balance motherhood with my workload.  To be honest, it's been an absolutely exhausting year and I don't say that with a sense of martyred pride.  Being so busy, I've discovered, is simply stupid.  After reading through everything, I gave myself a lot of grace.  It's been one thing after another - a lot of sickness, a lot of travel, several heavy issues we've had to deal with in our community, lots of work done through it all, and lots of relationships made and built.

Through it all, I've been ever more grateful for our home.  It is my stabilizer, my place of peace.  I find myself revived when I'm able to spend a day at home with Leo or just a few hours.  Admittedly, I too often spend this time worried that I'm not doing what I need to get done, but sometimes I am able to just sit back to be fully present and those are the moments that bring me the most joy.  Here is a compilation of photos I've taken at home this year, mostly with Leo and mostly with him wearing few to no clothes.  My favorite time is the end of the day when the setting sun brings slanting shadows and a glowing light, as if it's asking me to pay attention.

We will end this week with a staff retreat and next week we travel to the U.S. once again for the holidays.  Although I look forward to being with loved ones and investing in many activities that bring us a sense of purpose, I think this time especially, I will miss our own home.

One home for another

Home has become a loosely defined term for me in the last several years as I spend time between Uganda and Indiana. Any time I leave one place, I say I'm going home to the other. I know there will be much I'll miss while I'm gone, but I also know I'm able to be present at the home where I'm headed. There is always a give and take when I have 2 families, 2 communities, and 2 lives on different sides of the world.

Today we leave Indiana to re-enter our lives in Uganda. In the early days of Leo's life I sat with him by the pond where I spent so many childhood summers and whispered to him that he could always call this place home, no matter where our family lives. Indiana has always given me roots and I hope it gives my son the same sense of belonging.

This time it is particularly hard to tear myself away and say goodbye. I've spent a few months here, the longest period of time since high school. l brought my son into the world here and received an outpouring of love and support from my family and community. It's been a time of healing in many ways and the thought of leaving lets me know I'm going on with my life, this time as a mother, and I step into it all feeling a little shaky and unsure of myself.

But my in-laws and friends anxiously await our arrival at our other home in Uganda and I know we will receive an equal amount of love and support from that community. Although goodbyes and transitions are never easy, I'm beyond grateful we have 2 homes immersed in 2 loving communities to embrace us and delight with us in this new addition to our family. 

Here are some scenes around my Indiana  home.

The Whirlwind

We said we would stay in the US for a month after the baby came, thinking that would give us plenty of time; but here we are, packing our bags, with just a handful of days left before we fly home and I'm in awe it's that time already.  Wasn't Leo was just born?

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind, a roller coaster, a dizzying swirl of emotions, recovery, logistics, and preparations for returning to our lives in Uganda.  The days and nights have blurred together.  I've sobbed at the hardships of breastfeeding and wept at the beauty of it.  I've faced the highs and lows that come with postpartum and learned what feels like a million life lessons.  Suddenly Leo has gained a full pound and he's changed so much since he was born!  I already want to tell him to stop growing up, to remain my little peanut forever.

Life moves on and we must, too.  That date on our plane tickets is edging closer and the transition back to our life in Uganda is unavoidable.  The biggest lesson of it all might be to revel in each moment and soak it all in - the hard and the beautiful - or else this whirlwind might just take me over.

*I'm absolutely in love with these photos of Leo and our family by Ashley Sommer Photography.  Enjoy!*

Our next big adventure...

My husband, Eric, and I have taken several adventures together - from the traveling the Middle East, all throughout East Africa, and across America, exploring this world lets us also explore ourselves.  And next year, we have another huge adventure planned - one very different from setting off to a far-away place.  It is one of the most common, but life-transforming journeys of all time, so we've been told...

Next April, we're going to have a baby!

Remember that trip we took to Congo earlier this year?  Well, we spent one night in Rwanda before crossing the border into Congo and that night we found out the news for ourselves.  I felt blessed to have a week apart from my every day life, disconnected from the digital world, and relaxing amidst the stunning Congolese scenery.  It gave me a chance to process this big news, to reflect on what this new life will mean to me, to us, and what intention I wanted to take into the next 9 months.

The Journey of Birth is one of going deep within oneself, trusting the inner process, surrender (doing nothing), transformation, and bringing forth life from the temple of one’s own self.”
— Baraka Bethany Elihu,

I came back to Kampala knowing that not only was a new physical life gestating inside me that I'll soon give birth to, but a new identity for me as well - that of a mother.  Since that time, I've had a strong desire to wrap up in a cocoon and let this newness develop.  I've wanted to withdraw inward and start to carve away all that is unnecessary in my life.  It's been a great time to reflect on what is truly important and to make steps to keep those things close to me while peeling off what is redundant and not needed.

I have craved solitude and easiness of life.  Of course, the many physical changes have made me very tired and hungry, so I've just craved the time to give myself what my body wants - rest and nourishment.  I haven't exactly kept this promise of inward retreat to myself like I thought I would. The last few months have been very busy and I haven't had the time and space to wrap up in my desired cocoon, but the intention is still there, which is a big reason I needed my Weekend of Solitude - so I could come back to that hope.

A little tadpole - our 7 week ultrasound

12 week ultrasound

So, here we go!  We have this new, exciting adventure looming in front of us and there is so much to think about, to plan for, to contemplate.  There are things to learn and fears to face, but I anxiously await it all and I can't wait to take Toto* on our many adventures to come!



*Toto means "baby" in Swahili, a name we've decided to call the baby until the arrival, since it's much more affectionate than, "it"!