Monday, July 25, 2016

The Truth

Back in May, I was ranting to you about my lost luggage (which did eventually show up, after a month!) and I was disappointed in myself and losing my temper so quickly. See, last time I left Rwanda I wasn't healthy. In fact, that's been true at several points in this journey,  but I knew it was time to finally get some help. I was in the process of drafting the post below, and am finally getting around to finishing it up. So here we are.....

At the top of my list when I got home from Rwanda in March was to find a counselor. I knew something wasn't right. I wasn't right. I knew I needed to talk to someone, I knew I needed help untangling the knots I had tied inside and around myself.

I reached out to my pastor and he recommended a woman in Oklahoma; I made it a priority to meet with her as often as possible when I was in town. Before our first appointment, she asked my why I wanted to meet with her and what I was hoping to get out of our time together. I explained, I wanted to know that I wasn't crazy (or that, even if I was), there was a reason I was feeling this way. I wanted to know what it was and I wanted some tools to better handle it. At our first appointment, she gave me several pages of "homework" and, on our second appointment, I found out that I tested high for compassion fatigue and secondary trauma, I also showed signs of acute anxiety and depression. Finally.

I know that I haven't blogged much recently, but as I've started to dig myself out of this hole, trying to get back to myself, I've alluded to hard times and haven't really come right out and said what. The truth is, I don't know what, or don't know that I could put my finger on it being any one thing, in particular. It was more of a series of events, or warning signs, that I left unaddressed and that I used to isolate myself from... everything. It feels easier to keep quiet about it because I don't want to complain or I don't think people would understand or I don't want anyone to think I'm ungrateful or somehow unwilling. I wouldn't change a single thing about this crazy life. I just want to navigate it a little better. I don't want to bottom out every time things don't go my way. I want to remember who I am. Whose I am. And why we're here. Maybe I was (or am) supposed to be ashamed of the new diagnosis(?), but I, honestly, could not have been more excited just to know. My friend Becca speaks of "struggling under the weight of becoming" and YES, because, dang, becoming is messy.

“I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me--that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.” -Anne Lamott

So, it's been a long season of transition, in so many ways, but with several more counseling appointments under my belt, a fresh journal, and all the oils, it feels like the light is returning. I do remember who I am (she's a'ight) and I am proud of who I'm becoming. As I unclench my fists, I remember how fun it is to just trust and see. It will maybe never be easy living a life half a world away from everything you've known, but right smack dab in the middle of (most) everything you love. Running a business will never be full steam ahead. And raising kids you didn't birth and relying on others to support you while you do it will always be... a challenge. And see, I've had this thing, this perfect idea of life, in my mind, and this desire to translate that. I've held this belief that I somehow owe that perfection in order to be loved or accepted. Worthy. But if I owe anything, I owe myself the truth. And the space and grace to become. Life doesn't always happen in the black, sometimes you have to dip into the red for a bit to find out who you are, BUT fun is allowed and hard doesn't equal failure, so you might as well throw your hands up and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lost Luggage:: A Rant

Well, I freaked out today. I haven't even been here a week and already yelled at someone. I probably would have cussed at him, too, expect that he wouldn't have understood and those words would have been somehow wasted. I just need to say it. I just wanted you to know, for some reason. I'm trying to be honest and healthy and other good things.... More on that soon.

I arrived in Rwanda last Wednesday night, after over 30 hours of travel. Frank was an absolute rockstar, but I was a bit less relaxed than normal, just making sure that he was fine and tended to. I was tired, but prepared that when we entered Rwanda there would be some kind of "process" getting him approved and I had my mind all sorted for that. I was ready, smiling and patient, and we made it over of that 1.5 hour hurdle with flying colors. And then I went to get my luggage. Two of three pieces were waiting for me.

I took a deep breath and went to the lost and found office. There was another woman in there, who was also very held up at immigration, and this somehow made me feel better. Once she wrapped up her claim, we exchanged hopeful smiles, and I started mine. The man assured me, "Your bag will be here tomorrow." I know better than that, but it was nearly 11pm and I stumbled out to my increasingly impatient driver and started the final 3 hour drive to home.

For the last 6 days, I have called the airport, at least, twice a day. I have talked with Daniel, and Grace, and Diana, and have not received a single update except "We cannot locate your bag." I have been given and googled a few phone numbers and been sent down various rabbit holes, all with international calling rates. I have called Air Canada and Brussels Air, who both told me they couldn't help me? And today, poor Pascal asked me to come into the Brussels Airlines office in Kigali (a 3.5 hour bus trip, one way) "to discuss" and everything boiled to the surface. He got an earful. But, all of a sudden, he was able to give me a local number for Brussels Airlines and English speaking woman named Anna Marie.

She sounded more official than hopeful, but she did let me know that my bag never even made it to Brussels. And I'll be honest, that felt like progress because, in my mind, that narrows down the search to Dallas and Toronto. "These things happen," she said and offered me $100 (which is less than I paid to bring that 3rd piece of luggage in the first place). She gave me some official jargon about a world wide tracing system and the lengths they would be going to, to find the bag.

So there you have it. I lost it (my cool and the bag), but I feel better about it now. Have any of y'all ever lost a bag? Like, forever? The most devastating thing is almost ALL of my essential oils (!!!) were in there. Most of the clothes and shoes I brought for the boys (which brings a few extra prayers to the table from them, Ha!), photos I had printed to decorate the house, extra toiletries and kitchen supplies.... My new favorite Rwandan franc necklace! Ok, let me be done. This was helping and now it's starting to hurt again. ;) 

What do y'all know about this?? Tell me something good! xo

Sunday, May 22, 2016


Currently, I'm working on a new post about life and what it feels like to settle back in to Rwanda. But, in the meantime, I wanted to tell you about a few other things that are going on, currently....

enjoying being home with my people.

listening to the waves crash onto the shore of Lake Kivu.

obsessively rearranging our house and making it into a home.

feeling confident.

wishing my lost bag would arrive.

sleeping on American time. Jet lag doesn't usually get to me this much.

taking my time settling in. With new tools in my belt, I'm trying to be more intentional about this little life.

moving furniture all over the place. This is when life with boys comes in so handy.

eating chapati and eggs and cheese like it's my job.

drinking Rwandan coffee on repeat.

enjoying Frank. He is, seriously, perfection and he is so happy here.

loving just being here.

reading Codependent No More.

listening to Ruth B. Do y'all know her??

preparing new designs for the No.41 fall collection.

requiring extra amounts of grace.

waiting 63 hours to download Poverty Inc. (That's real.)

appreciating the boys being in school and the downtime that affords.

missing the boys when they are at school.

laughing often.

praying for my boys.

realizing just exactly how sweet this life is.

excited about meeting with the 41 girls in the morning.

Have a great week. xo

Monday, May 9, 2016

My Boys

If you follow along on Instagram, you've seen and heard me talk about my family. My boys. 

Left to right: Moses (22), Terry (21), Jean d'Amour (No.41 Program Director), Richard (16), Innocent (17), Chazzo (19)
On the heels of Mother's Day, and in the spirit of owning my story, I'd like to say, maybe out loud for the first time, that I am mothering these boys. I am their mother. Not their only mother, not their legal mother, but their mother no less. I didn't intend for this to happen. I didn't set out to fill my house and my heart with boys. I hurt and I prayed and He answered in the most unexpected way.

Most of you know the story of Innocent and know he is the primary reason I moved to Rwanda. And most of the other boys fell into place in similar ways. Instantly and accidentally. Maybe you get tired of hearing me say that I stumbled into it (whatever it happens to be), but it's quite honestly the truth. I didn't have a well thought out plan for how all of this would go. I didn't have parameters in place, no list of rules, no safety net. Just a feeling (and faith) that this was how it was supposed to be. For as long as it was going to be.

I like what Ann Voskamp has to say: is a verb, family is an action that we choose because family is not just what we are, it’s something that we actively keep on making. Turns out we aren’t merely born into families, families are born out of our reaching out & holding on & serving anyways & giving always... Always. Turns out it's not only the blood in our veins that makes us family — it’s the blood & sacrifice in our days that make us a family.

Turns out? Parenting isn’t quite as overwhelming when we simply understand how to serve in this minute. Sometimes figuring that out is hard. Sometimes what serves best is simply our open arms & the close beat of our own breaking heart. Love breaks & gives away your heart. Every time.

God sets the lonely in families and loving these boys is the closest to the heart of God I think I've ever been. We live this tangled, messy life, steeped in grace and overflowing with love. We belong to each other and that is powerful. We fight and makeup. We laugh and I cry. They try to protect themselves and push me away, yet I relentlessly pursue their hearts and it has been the best way to learn about God's relentless pursuit of my own heart. I've heard it said, "If it doesn't hurt, you're not doing it right."

Y'all, then we are getting this so(oo) right. More soon. xo
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