Monday, December 8, 2014

Pregnancy Workout Myths & Second Trimester Workout #7

Thanksgiving, work and this joyous holiday-crazy-shopping season have kept me busy the past two weeks, but don't fret I've still managed to keep up my weekly gym routine, which means I still have tons of workouts to post.

I'm 29 weeks as of yesterday and as my belly is getting bigger (I feel like it's massive at this point, but there's still lots of time to go), I've run into a couple issues at the gym. Nothing serious, but things I definitely wanted to be open about and cover in case anyone else is going through the same stuff:
  • LOWER ABDOMINAL PAIN "CRAMPING"  -  After discussing with my OB and other moms, I've realized that mild cramping during exercise is not uncommon during pregnancy, and is not a cause for alarm (of course severe pain is- so pay attention). A common cause of cramping during exercise is round ligament pain. The round ligament supports the uterus and expands as your grown your "bump" so a cramp can be triggered by any movement, even one as mild as going from standing to sitting. I occasionally get these when working out and when I do I find that stretching and resting for a minute or two often alleviates the pain.
  •  LOWER BACK PAIN  -  What you haven't experienced this yet? Ah, I pray it doesn't ever hit you (cause when it does it's like taking a punch to the face: totally undeniable and incredibly painful). Lower back pain, though completely annoying and uncomfortable, it is absolutely normal. :) yipee!  Your spine has to support the weight you're gaining, so this causes increased stressed to the spine. And beyond that, your center of gravity also changes, so your posture can change which just increases the pain. Also, as your body releases more and more relaxin (a hormone), which allows ligaments in the pelvic area to relax and the joints to become looser, it can cause ligaments that support the spine to loosen, leading to instability and even more pain. Getting excited yet? Because if all that wasn't enough, the separation of your rectal abdominis muscles may worsen your back pain. This separation is common, by the way, it occurs in 1/3 of all pregnancies.
Okay, onto my workout workout post and a few pregnancy workout myths you should definitely be aware of!

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises against aerobic exercise if you have any of these conditions while pregnant:
  • Heart disease that significantly affects the way blood circulates in your body, such as pulmonary hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure)
  • Lung disease, such as severe asthma or chronic bronchitis (an inflammation of the bronchial tubes)
  • Cervical insufficiency/cerclage(premature dilation)
  • Multiple pregnancy (twins or triplets, for example) if you're at risk for preterm labor
  • Persistent second- or third-trimester bleeding
  • Placenta previa after 26 weeks
  • Preterm labor
  • Ruptured membranes (meaning your water has broken)
  • Preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure)
Signs to stop exercise during pregnancy: 

Regular physical activity is an important part of a healthy pregnancy. Even if your doctor gives you the go-ahead to work out, don't overdo it. Stop exercise immediately and contact your healthcare provider if you have any of the following symptoms:
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling (which could indicate a blood clot)
  • Contractions or preterm labor
  • Decreased fetal movement (Keep in mind that the baby is often most quiet when you're most active.)
  • Fluid leaking (or gushing) from your vagina

And for my own journaling purposes, photos:

post signature

Monday, November 24, 2014

Workout #6 & Peanut Butter Protein Bites

Little babe,

You are a mover. It's official- day, night, after meal, during meal, before meal, while I'm sleeping, when I'm working, etc. you are always moving, little babe. It's lovely and special, but sometimes it makes me feel a little nauseous and sometimes it just downright hurts. I watch your little dance every night before I fall asleep, it reminds me that although you might cause slight discomfort, you are in there growing and happy. I am so incredibly grateful for that.

Your daddy has been home for a week- and this is a HUGE blessing. He not only adores you and loves to spend time talking to you, but he also takes over some of the housework and this give my back a much needed break!

Your aunt, Whitney (who you'll call Titty because as a child I could never say "Sissy"- this became our nickname for each other growing up) loves you so already. She has 3 of her own boys and has already walked me through much of "what to except".  She took me to register for all your baby necessities this week and wow was I overwhelmed! SO many types of everything, from burp-cloths to strollers there were options galore.

Don't worry, little one, you'll have everything you need and probably more. 

27 weeks...and I love you already more than I ever thought possible.
xoxo, your mommy

I am still documenting my workouts and hoping to utilize all this documenting through my next pregnancy to A) laugh at myself and B) have a gameplan (I will be grateful to not have to recreate the wheel with a little one at home).

In an effort to get more protein (for the babe) and to keep my energy levels good through some tough workouts, I decided to create my own protein-packed energy bites at home (did I say they were peanut butter flavored?!). I've seen them in specialty stores, but they are expensive and usually have a whey based protein powder (I only use plant based protein powder). Honestly, I was shocked at how easy these were to make and DELICIOUS! Even my nephews loved them! They kept requesting more "peanut butter balls"!

post signature

Friday, November 7, 2014

Fit Pregnancy Workout #5 & Healthy Chicken Tacos Recipe

I love fall food and when fall rolls around, out comes my oh-so-loved Crockpot. I am quiet obsessed with this little machine. It can make everything from fresh bread, hearty soups, tender chicken dishes, and even delectable desserts. Although this little wonder has a very special place in my heart, I literally only bring it out in the fall/winter (habit I suppose?). I must reevaluate next year.

Being from South Texas means I also love one other thing A LOT...mexican food! Below is a healthy chicken taco recipe I came up with. I compared the recipe to my favorite Mexican chain- Chipotle. I mostly like Chipotle because it's healthier than most other Mexican options. Don't worry Texas friends, I still love a lard-loaded tortilla, but these days I have to save my calories for more protein-dense foods. :)  My recipe didn't win by a landslide, but it definitely will save you some calories, fat & sodium- plus it's cheaper and the leftovers keep well (freezer or fridge).

Servings: 4-5 (3 tacos per serving- feed that baby!)
        -enough for 12-15 tacos total

  • 3 lbs raw skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • salt, to taste
  • 16 oz roasted salsa verde (hands down my fav salsa to cook with)
  • 4 oz. can green chilis diced
  • 8 oz. chicken broth
Taco & toppings (included in calorie count):
  • Black beans 
  • Chopped Avacado
  • Fresh Pico (Tomatoes, onion, salt, cilantro)
  • Chopped Romaine 
  • Corn Tortillas
-Season chicken with garlic powder, cayenne, cumin and salt and place in the bottom of the slow cooker. Cover with salsa verde, canned chilis, and broth. Cover and cook HIGH 2 hours, until chicken is cooked through.
-Remove chicken, shred using 2 forks. Remove 2/3 cup of liquid from the slow cooker and discard. Place shredded chicken back into the crock pot with remaining salsa, adjust seasoning to taste if needed and keep warm.

And onto the 15 week, second trimester pregnancy workout! This is a crazy cardio one, but I LOVE IT! And still do it today at 25 weeks along.


Progress pic (18 weeks vs. 25 weeks)! CRAZY!

post signature

Monday, November 3, 2014

Asheville + Fit Pregnancy Workout #4

The 24 week mark has arrived and I must say....I feel huge. I can't imagine this baby growing for another 16 weeks, but I suppose many other women have thought this before. I think part of it is that my stomach just shot out over the weekend. Seriously, it probably doubled in size. Part of the growth was probably normal baby growth spurt stuff and part was definitely due to the massive amounts of amazing food I consumed this past weekend.  J and I took a last minute trip to Asheville to celebrate this little babe growing inside me. We stayed at an amazing Bed & Breakfast and I seriously ate my entire weight in sweets over the weekend. I just could NOT get enough.

Now that I'm back at home, I'm forcing myself back on the program (i.e., no more Halloween candy or donuts). J and I headed straight for the gym when we returned. The nice thing about us both being fitness people is that after two days of not working out (and eating like pigs) we were both craving gym time. Last night I just did an hour on the stair mill, serious cardio was just what this body wanted. This morning we headed back to the gym for a more serious workout. J wrote me up a great one that I will share soon.

For now, take a peek at workout #4 back from when I was 14 weeks. I still do this one today with modified burpees and push-ups! It's intense and I have to take lots of breaks and drink tons of water.

And for my own documentation, here are pics from my fun & romantic weekend in Asheville. The weather was crazy, it went from beautiful fall to intense snowfall overnight. It was beautiful. A tiny blessing of beauty for J, my sweet babe, and me.

post signature

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fit Pregnancy Workout #3 and FALL!

I am feeling great still- thank you God, really, I know it's not a given. I'm 23 weeks and I feel so close to this little one inside my belly. I call him by name now, hopefully we will share soon. I pray for him often and I just have such a strong desire to keep him safe in there, to keep him growing big & strong, and to tell him lots of little things about his dad (who travels all the time).

I still have energy to get up early and workout so I do, 5 days a week at about 6:30am. Here is my #3 workout (written when I was 13 weeks) but one I still do today. I basically rotate through these workouts and add a new one each week of my pregnancy to change it up and keep my muscles conditioned. I do 3 days of strength training a week and 2 cardio only days.

This past weekend J was home and we had a fun day enjoying fall things, although the weather here is not quiet "fall feeling" at 80+ degrees. I ate way too many candy apples and eating them (for the record) is only half as fun as making them. And here is also my 22 week progress pic- sweet little babe is growing and I LOVE IT!

post signature

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The BIG 3-0!!!!

It's easy for me to follow my post title with a million exclamations because, it's not my BIG birthday. It's my lovely sisters! And she will be so thrilled to see this post ;) She's turning the big THIRTY and I have no doubt it will be her best year yet! (she's the stunning blonde next to me in all three photos)

These are pics from us two weekends ago at the Zac Brown Festival in Charleston.

I've been feeling great in my pregnancy so far. 22 weeks! More than half way done cooking this little babe. My husband, adoringly referred to as J, came back in town for the weekend. He's been traveling a lot for work and as much as I love having a king size bed to myself & preggo belly, it gets old quick. He got to feel the baby move around for the first time- simply amazing. It really is the BEST feeling!

I made an amazing pumpkin chocolate chip zucchini bread recently and it was TO DIE FOR! And incredibly healthy. Although J calls it "turd bread" due to it's lovely appearance, even he enjoyed it. So when you're craving a huge slice of Starbucks breakfast bread, make this instead and save yourself over 250 calories! Here's the recipe comparison, I'll be posting these for my own record as I search for healthy alternatives to my not so healthy cravings. :)

Recipe from
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cloves
  • pinch of ginger
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini, squeezed of excess moisture
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.
  3. In a separate large bowl combine pumpkin, zucchini, honey, oil, egg, and vanilla until well combined and smooth. Whisk in almond milk. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips, reserving a few for sprinkling on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 10-15 minutes, then remove bread from pan and transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice Calories: 153 Fat: 4.5g Carbohydrates: 26.1g Sugar: 13g Fiber: 2.3g Protein: 3g


post signature

Friday, October 17, 2014

Little Babe + Pregnancy Workout #2

Dearest little babe,

I'm pretty sure that upon your arrival I will no longer have the energy to keep up this blog, OR perhaps it will be just the thing that keeps me sane and feeling somewhat normal amidst the "newborn fog", which by the way someone at the pool told me she had just come out of after 5 months --- 5 MONTHS!! I was thinking more like a 6 week fog. I must consult my sister on this. She is a mom of three boys and just a few short months ago they were all 3yrs and under. Isn't that crazy?! Crazy, but fun! If anyone should write a blog it should be her, but as you might imagine she has her hands quiet full.

Anyway, sweet boy, you don't care about all that. You want to hear the good things. Things like you looked perfect and beautiful in your 20 week ultrasound. You weigh 12oz. I have no idea how they know that, but the doctors told me you did. You move ALL the time. I began to feel your little movements around 17 weeks, from the outside. Before that, I'm sure you were in there moving but for all I knew it was gas bubbles or my stomach upset at what I had for dinner. I am attempting to teach you french, and by you I mean me (too).  I feel like I need to be more dedicated if I say I am teaching my son. We plan to take you to France shortly after you're born, you will love it just like your dad and I do.

And for those of you that came for the workout, voilĂ , see below! This workout is a back & arm focused workout, for those of you that don't know me well, I truly believe in weight/resistance training for woman. Building lean muscle helps to increase our resting metabolism, so we will burn more fat throughout the day.  And during pregnancy, it has even more benefits, such as increasing our stamina during labor, increased energy during pregnancy, decreased back and leg cramping during pregnancy and quicker recovery post pregnancy (umm hello, that last one alone is worth it). Muscles that are constantly used tend to heal faster because of increased blood circulation and better cellular response to trauma/the breaking and building of muscle. 

*As always, run your workout plan by your OB before attempting.

post signature

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fit Pregnancy : Workout 1

Let's be real here. When I unexpectedly found out I was pregnant, many, many thoughts went through my mind. I was scared and unhappy about all the changes that lie ahead. One of the biggest things I wasn't ready for was for my body to change.... hello cravings, lack-of-energy, weight gain, scaled down workouts, etc.
BUT I adapted. I realized that in order to keep myself sane and this little babe safe, I needed to continue to keep fitness a priority in my life. Since then, I have continued to workout like normal, I have made a few adjustments here and there. And I openly discuss my fitness routine with my OB. It makes me feel better when she says I'm good to go. Before creating my fitness plan (and each workout), I did tons of research and talked with the trainers at my gym about what exercises to avoid, heart rate concerns, trimester variations, etc. 
I want to preface by saying that I worked out 5 days a week for 60-90 minutes a day before getting pregnant. I wouldn't recommended starting a new workout routine once you're pregnant, and be sure to run everything by your OB first.

Pregnancy Workout 1
If you have any questions, feel free to email me. I'm no expert, but can definitely help motivate (or ask my husband). :)
Also, I'm 21 weeks this week... here's a progress pic- it's a shameless gym selfie.

post signature

Thursday, October 9, 2014


You must not know me well enough if you don't understand why I followed my title with crazy, but don't worry, I promise to share details at some point, and then we'll be SUPER close. 
On Friday, June 27th, 2014, I found out I was pregnant. A friend at the gym actually prompted me to get a pregnancy test when she flat out asked, "Your boobs are huge, are you pregnant?".  I almost dropped the barbell right in the middle of a squat. Me..haha...pregnant? I had all the signs, I have no idea why I didn't think of it as a possible option myself. 
Fast-forward to today, and I'm 20 weeks pregnant with a precious baby boy. I want to be careful when I say this, because I have friends & family who have struggled to conceive and I don't want to seem insensitive, but I also want to be honest. I did not come to the point of calling this child "precious" overnight. I had a hard time adjusting to being pregnant, and it wasn't the morning sickness, the weight gain or the mood was me selfishly, just not ready to be pregnant. I wasn't ready to give up sushi, wine, insane workouts, sleeping on my back, or licking yummy cake batter off a spoon. I realize now how silly this all sounds, but it's the truth.  Even at my first ultrasound, seeing my little blob of a baby did not make me weep tears of joy or make my heart flutter. I realized seeing that little blob that I actually was pregnant and that this road, whether I was ready or not, was one I was going down.
So you get the point, I had a lot of attitude adjusting to do. And I did. And finally, at my 15 week OB appointment, I had an unplanned ultrasound and I got to see my sweet baby (who actually looked like a baby) move and he looked right into the monitor and waved. It was a huge moment for me. I cried. I realized for the first time that the wiggling baby inside me was mine. He is my child, Justin and I's creation and I am his mother, now and forever. I could not be more honored and blessed.
post signature

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Searching for a one-day home...

Original Post from Nov. 2013>
As much as Justin and I love being here, there and everywhere, we really do want to settle down and buy our dream home. I call it that, our dream home, and I call it that not because it will be a big, extravagant, high-end home, but because it will be the house we’ve dreamed of….sounds of little giggles, whispered lullabies, post-tantrum sniffles, loud football game cheers, family laughter, early morning baking, dogs barking and so many more beautiful family sounds. That’s the house we dream of; one where we can raise our family.
For those of you that know me, I should start off by saying… I am not pregnant!! Scouts honor. Just had to clear that right up.
As we think about the house we want, I’ve come up with this list of wants (some of these things are more or less just words/ideas to keep me in-check when looking):
-More than one bathroom : )
-Outdoor living space
-Cottage charm
-Not too big (Note to self: you’ll have to clean it)
-Walking distance to anything (seriously, I don’t care what it is, I know this will keep me sane when mommy-life gets crazy)
-No carpet (this is totally selfish, but I want things that clean up easily, like really, really easily)
The two hard decisions for me (and Justin), which are unfortunately the most important things, are where to live and exactly how many bedrooms we think we’ll need. And let me tell you folks, without those two decisions made, looking for a home right now is like driving without directions….aimless and pretty pointless.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Original post from Oct. 16, 2013> Where do you go after a trip like this? How do you return to “normal life”? How does everything you once knew not turn into a meaningless humdrum life?

Processing. That’s how. At least for me, it’s what I needed. I had to take the time to contemplate and think about this trip. There was a purpose in me being called over there….a purpose bigger than my mind could see while I was in Uganda, being washed in the daily presence of those precious little children. Justin and I spent last weekend camping and hiking 18 miles through the Foothills Trail. We decided we would go on this trip, despite all of our recent travels, because we wanted to process our trip to Uganda and we couldn’t think of a better place than in nature, with no cell service and no distractions (aren’t those one in the same?). : )

The trip was perfect. A time for my mind to clear out the clutter. I realized that when you come back from a trip that takes you into another world, especially a world of poverty, that in some ways, your life back home does seem meaningless. And in some ways, you might never fully return home. You leave a piece of you behind and bring home a new one. But it’s a choice you have. You can choose to take it all in, live it, breathe it and let in change your heart forever….or you can choose to let it slip away, like a distant memory (and back in the comfort of our big American homes, fancy cars, nice restaurants and super malls- that’s a easy thing to do). And while I am guilty of enjoying the comforts of my American life, I am choosing to let this trip change me. Forever. As I discover the changes my heart has made, I’ll keep you posted. But for now, through processing, I realized I learned one big lesson….
Before leaving for Africa, I made a commitment to myself (because I felt like God called me to) to live in the moment. A friend of mine, Charisse, sent me a good devotional which led me to this calling of “living in the moment”. As we all know, it is quite a feat to do. We live in America, even worse in a city, where there is a constant hustle and bustle, where people (myself included) feel the need to be someone, climb up the ladder, be socially accepted, and all of us in some way feel like we have to keep up with the Joneses to survive…how, please tell me, can we ever feel or be in the moment if we’re constantly doing all of the above? If we’re all, in some way, striving for more, then how are we ever in the moment, appreciating fully what is right in front of us? I can tell you that I, honestly, was not succeeding at this…my heart, my mind and my wallet too often searched for “more”.

THEN Africa happened. I went with this once seemingly big task to change, and I did. So easily. And that’s because I had no pressures there, I had nothing more to search for, and no expectations to meet. In Africa, I was a pharmacist, a foreigner, a full-time servant of God, and a mom. And every time my sweet boys looked up at me with their big hopeful eyes, I was in the moment. I didn’t have to think to myself, “Allie, concentrate on what’s right in front of you.” It came effortlessly. I want to give you one example here, we were riding on a bus to Namadhi (the campus that is more rural, where two of my boys live). The children were so excited to see us, and it didn’t feel right… who are we to deserve this? But I reminded myself, that for many of these children, we are a big bundle of love coming to adore them and serve them. For them, it might be like God sending them a piece of his love made visible. A special present, just for them. How could you not be fully present in this moment?

These 60 seconds are seconds I will never forget. How my heart felt…seeing the signs they made, their loud wel-e-come cheers, the branches they turned into waving flags, the flowers the picked to decorate for us, their little bobbing heads as they jumped for joy, the bouquets they gave us made of twigs and fresh blooms. This is one of the moments that helped me to learn to always be present. I don’t want to miss the big moments or the tiny, little moments in my life. It’s been incredibly hard for me to maintain back home…but I take one day at a time and I don’t beat myself up when I get off track. I’ve learned to not over-commit myself, to enjoy each place I go, to find peace in my days at the house when work is slow, to show my husband he is loved even when I’m busy, to not be perpetually rushed, to be ok with being late or early, to sit on the porch and read when I think I should be cleaning. I’ve learned to pass up things I want at the store, to not stress about planning out my life and just let it happen, to love myself with messy hair and no makeup, to cherish time with my family even when work is knocking at the door. I’ve learned that everything in my life has a place, but I can’t be in all those places at once. So I choose to be in whatever place my life has called me to at any given moment. I am there, present. I set aside the other things. And I don’t let my mind think about them. They are not going anywhere, they are merely waiting in line. And when my life takes me to those other things, they will appreciate me being fully present. Living in the moment, truly.
Lessons from Uganda...

post signature

Monday, October 6, 2014

My responsibility.

Original post from Oct. 1, 2013>
Emotions, emotions, emotions. Right now, I am full of a million, but sadness is the one I feel the most.
I am sad because I miss Shafic more than I even thought possible. I see him in everything I do here. I miss our other boys too, but both Sula & Muzaifah have brothers and sisters at the orphanage, which somehow makes me feel better. Like they have family to love them and comfort them when needed. I will have to tell you more about them later…Justin and I had a very special moment with Muzaifah.
From the moment I met Shafic we had a very special bond. He didn’t want to talk too much about his past when I first met him, perhaps he didn’t trust me quite yet, but after two days of getting to know eachother, Shafic opened up to me. He told me about his past and where he came from and how he ended up at Hands of Love. Both of Shafic’s parents died when he was 5 years old. I’m not sure how they died, I didn’t feel like he was ready to tell me, so I didn’t ask. Some villagers helped to take care of him and his brother, Martin, for a few years until it became too burdensome. They didn’t have any money so Shafic and Martin relied on others to feed them. They also couldn’t go to school because in Uganda the public school system requires every student to pay some small admin fees (unless the school is a UPE school), but when you don’t have anything but the clothes on your back (literally) those small fees prevent you from going to school. That and the fact they didn’t have any transportation besides traveling by foot. Shafic explained to me that one day Solomy, the sponsorship coordinator in Uganda, found him and his brother in a field and took them to Hands of Love. Shafic was 10 years old when that happened. I am not sure about Martin, but I know Shafic was sponsorless for 3 years. Justin and I began to sponsor him in March of 2012. A some point during those three years, Martin ran away from the orphanage and got involved with a bad group of people, a Ugandan gang of sorts. Martin is not allowed near the orphanage, so the day he ran away was the last time Shafic saw him. I asked Shafic if he missed his brother, and he said he does very much, but that he is very happy at Hands of Love and doesn’t want to leave. This whole story about Shafic’s brother running away made me worry (just like a mother). I worried that Shafic’s brother might influence him. That maybe Shafic would one day feel like running away thinking that there might be something better out there. Justin and I talked and together we decided to have a serious talk with Shafic. It was hard for me to be stern with him, but I knew I had to be. I explained to him how much his dad and I loved him, and that if he ever ran away or left Hands of Love that we would be deeply sad and worried. In fact, I told him, we would be so worried that we would come right back over to Uganda and search for him until we found him…and we would find him.  And when we did, he would be in BIG trouble with us. I explained to him that it was with a loving, motherly heart that I told him all this. The thought of him running away and maybe never seeing him again brings me a deep pain in my heart. Shafic reassured me that he would never runaway. He said, now that he met his mom and dad, he wanted to make us proud. He has no idea how proud I am already. He is the sweetest boy, he has a big heart, he is selfless, and he loves the Lord. He is always looking out for the younger kids. Molly, one of the nurses on our trip, has a precious son at HOL named Julius. I constantly saw Shafic sharing his treats with Julius and guiding him to the bus, back to school, etc. There are so many reasons I am proud of my son.

It was so hard to tell Shafic goodbye. I cried and cried. I let the whole “be strong in front of your kids rule” fly right out the window. I didn’t care. I hugged him and held him so tight. I reminded him that this was not goodbye forever and that I would return to see him. I reminded him for the 5 millionth time how much Justin and I loved him, and he reminded me that he loved us so much too. As he was summoned back to the bus, Shafic looked at me and said “I will miss you, Mom.” “I will miss you more,” I replied. And we both turned to walk in opposite directions.
This song randomly played on my iPod on my way back to the US…. each word is exactly how I feel.

I carry you in me.
Now that I have seen, I am responsible
Faith without deeds is dead
Now that I have held you
In my own arms
I cannot let go till you are
I will tell the world, I will tell them where I’ve been
I will keep my word.

Now being back in America, I feel a deep rooted responsibility in my heart, a responsibility to take care of Shafic forever, to tell his story, and to hopefully, one day, help him go to college and follow all his dreams. I realize that right now that begins with helping him right where he is…at Hands of Love.  I want to educate people, like you, about HOL. And if I’m honest, I want HOL to get more funding and more sponsors. It only costs $40 a month to sponsor a child. If you go to Starbucks a few times a month, go out to lunch more than 4 times a month, or pick up an extra item every time you go to Target (come on, we’ve all done it), then you have enough “extra” to help a child. I know many of you donate your money elsewhere and I get that (I did too before I knew of HOL), but I hope this touches your heart in such a way that you feel called to sponsor a child….that you make room for it, because if we’re all truly honest, we could all make the room to do this. And when you do, you will be blessed, immensely.

I am here, but my heart is in Uganda.

post signature

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Why I am here.

Original post from Sept. 30, 2013>
Dear my sweet, sweet Mommy,

I pray you are near and are able to see what the good Lord has called me to do, for you have inspired me to follow His lead. Never in a million years would I have thought serving children would be in my future, but when I think of you and how much of your life was made up of loving children, I realize it is perfectly sensible. You were an incredibly gifted teacher, the best mom your daughters could ask for, and you loved two boys that came into our life later as if they were your very own. You took every chance in life to love and embrace children.  I remember you were once completely taken back by a story about 3 orphan brothers in the newspaper, you seriously discussed with the family adopting all of them, I think you even called the local government to see how everything might logistically work. I smile at that memory now…. It’s truly no surprise that I am here in Africa serving and adoring all these beautiful young faces with their big ear to ear smiles.

I hope you hear my message though you are in an unreachable and seemingly far away place.  I want you to know, among the millions of things I learned from you, one of the most valuable was learning to have an open heart to love others, and today those “others” are the little ones. I am following in your footsteps with a big open heart (just like you taught me), and I can’t help but fall in love with all of these children. Their little feet and tiny toes, their big belly laughs, and imaginations that have no limit, their innocent souls, and their joy for all the little things in life.

I thank you for inspiring me for I am forever grateful for this trip. It will change the trajectory of my life, in fact it already has.

I also need to thank your beautiful mom, my Nanny! Her lifelong heart and dedication to serve others is truly incredible. When I was younger I didn’t quite grasp the volunteer work she did for the RedCross, but now that I am older I am able to truly appreciate the work she did, the time she gave, the people she helped and most importantly those she inspired along the way, like me. Thank you, Nanny, for your heart to serve…and also thank you for raising an amazing daughter who became the best mother.

I have a grateful heart today for these two special women in my life who touched my heart and helped lead me to where I am today, on this life-changing African journey.

post signature