Sunday, January 20, 2013

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  Jeremiah 29:13
"The night before party!"

My spirit is restless today, yet I have seen the Lord and HIS glory everywhere I looked this week from the snow that made a little girl from Uganda smile, to the strangers that we meet that went above and beyond to care for her.  I know in my life time, I have walked past people in need.  I may not remember a specific incident but because of my nature to be prideful, self sufficient and the fact that I worship the idols of time, money, etc., I know that I have.  The caretakers that the Lord sent for Shamira this week did not walk past her but served her as the hands and feet of Jesus eagerly and intentionally.  It was a privilege to witness the way they loved her and cared for her.

Monday night was a fun night.  We gathered at a restaurant and celebrated the fact that God brought two children from the other side of the world to heal their bodies.  I dreaded what was to come for Shamira even though I know it's the way to healing.  I knew that she didn't comprehend what was about to happen but she trusts us.  We trust her doctors.  I don't take trust lightly.
"5:00a.m. going to the hospital"

"After her I.V. with a little something to help her 'wait'..."

The next morning, the physical healing would begin for Shamira.  She has been with us for 8 months.  It feels like she has been with us for 8 years.  God has woven our family.  It feels normal for us to be together.  I don't remember what it felt like not to have the Ugandan children here.  So, this week we started Shamira's surgeries...the first of many.  We knew that this would be the most challenging one.  She had three amazing doctors.  Each one of them came in and spoke to us as we waited nervously for the "healing to begin".  As I thanked them for helping Shamira, they humbly told me there was no need to thank them.  They said this is why we wanted to be doctors.  This is why they went to medical school.  There was no health insurance.  No compensation to them at all, just our eternal gratefulness.  It seemed  everyone wanted to meet Shamira, like she was a famous person.  They knew she was coming and today was the day they had prepared for her.  These same doctors that operated on her, operated on world class athletes the same day.  But, it was obvious to me that every nurse and every doctor that came in contact with her knew they were treating ROYALTY when they saw Shamira.  She is in fact royalty because she is the daughter of the KING... so, Laurel got her a crown :)

"We had the BEST nurses!"
When I saw her lying in her bed after surgery, I cried.  She was waking up from the anesthesia and she seemed agitated.  She looked fragile but she is the strongest person I know.  After 8 months of living with this child of God, she is part of our family.  When she hurts, I hurt and it's fair to say her daddy hurts too.  She had asked me earlier in the week, "When we cry, does Jesus cry?"  What a great question!  I knew she was seeking HIM.  I couldn't help her but her Heavenly Father could and HE did.  I took her hand, knelt down beside her bed and we prayed.  As I was holding her hand, petitioning the God that brought her here to wrap HIS arms around her and comfort her, I felt her tense hand relax in my hand.  Her heart rate slowed down as she "trusted"... not in us or the doctors to heal her but in God, the great PHYSICIAN to heal her.  Shamira increased my faith in that moment.  It was sweet and unexpected.

There was not one nurse, aid, or hospital administrator that didn't sever her well.  I have pictures of most of them with her.  Hopefully, we will get to be on the same floor with the same people the next time she has surgery but God is rapidly enlarging this child's territory.  I'm truly humbled to sit back and watch how people love her.  I believe they see Jesus when they see Shamira.  I hope she sees Jesus when she sees us because that's all life should be about... serving HIM.  People see hope, a miracle, compassion a humble person inside and out when they she her.  She hasn't asked for anything.  She doesn't want anything of this world.  She is a beautiful person inside and out.

"Physical Therapy for the first time"
"Getting Ready to go HOME!"

She will have physical therapy 3 times a week plus therapy at home twice a day.  They were able to get her arm about 90% of where they want it to be and they believe physical therapy will get her arm 100% in time.  She will see the doctor 2 times a week until her next surgery and that will be in about 4 weeks.  She is thankful to have this opportunity.  All she wanted was to "see the snow" (and we did) and then she was ready to "go home".  That's all she asked for.  She said she already had "everything". She knows what matters.
"Thank you Lord for the snow!"
I'm so thankful they kept her as long as they did.  I'm not a nurse and honestly, watching her heal is difficult for me.  I know God is continuing to refine me.  HE knows what I need to keep my knees at the foot of The CROSS and Shamira's healing will certainly do that.  I can't complain.  She's the one that should be complaining and she's not.  She's waiting on the Lord to heal her TRUSTING  that HE will.  HE will!
"Best Friends Forever"
Thank you for every message and card that has been sent.  We have read everyone of them to her and your words of encouragement really make her smile!  We are putting them in a scrapbook for her.

Our specific prayer request for Shamira at this time is that she won't get any infections, especially in her arm and also that she will eat.  (We are making her eat but she doesn't have an appetite yet.)  She wants to go back to school and we will see what the doctor says but I'm worried that she could catch the flu or a virus.  She needs to stay healthy for her body to heal from her surgery and stay healthy for the next one.

The scripture above is Shamira's favorite verse.  She learned it at "bible school" shortly after she got here.  She is seeking HIM with all that she has and that all that she is.  She has found HIM.  I can't wait for her to tell her story one day.  HE WILL/IS BEING GLORIFIED through her life!

Praising God From Whom All Blessings Flow!

Amiee :)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of knowledge of him.  For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing."  2 Corinthians 2:14-15."

It's been a while since I've written... not because I haven't had anything to write about.  I have tried to take this time to pause with my blogging and see if I could go deeper with my perspective.  I struggle so much with the depth of scripture.  It's so rich and every time I read my bible, the Holy Spirit penetrates my heart more than I expected and I love the Lord more than I did the moment before and again, my sinful heart is revealed.  My theme doesn't change.  I need the Lord more than I thought I did and thankfully, HIS hand is always there for me to take.

Yesterday, I had a unique moment and I want to write about it before I forget the details.  I promise I will try and write a blog next week about the entire family but this was one of those moments that I don't need to forget.  I'm already teary :)  Joan has been in school for about one year.  One year ago, she had no "language".  Yes, she could communicate and she did it well but as far as an official language, she had none.  I remember the day I was parked in front of Oak Mountain Middle School and Joel sent me a picture of her.  She was tiny wearing a little red dress reaching up on a tattered chalkboard writing her name for the first time.  His comment to me was something like "if she can write, she can learn".  Joel may have been the first person in her life to believe in this little girl who could not hear.  He saw her worth and her value when many around her did not.  Oh Joel, I will love you forever for your love for Joanie. :)  Fast forward a little over a year.  Yesterday, we had a video phone installed for Joan.  This means that she now has a phone in the kitchen.  It's a flat screen t.v. that is connected through the internet.  If she calls you, she is physically standing in the kitchen signing to an interpreter who is her voice to whomever is on the other end of the phone.  If she calls a friend who is deaf and they also have a video phone, they have a spit screen and they sign to each other directly.  (Forgive me my deaf friends that know this system.  That may not have been an accurate description of how the system works exactly.)  Anyway, Joan's new friend Jerry came to install the system yesterday.  She greeted him at the front door.  At first she was not sure about him but as soon as he started signing to her, she became all about Jerry.  I regret not taking their picture together :(  Anyway, Jerry installed our system.  For the 3 hours that he was in our home, Joan was beginning to figure out what all of this was and what it would mean in her life.  I still didn't comprehend what this new phone system would mean in my life and really hadn't thought about that perspective.  When Jerry was ready to test the system, he suggested that I go outside on with my cell phone and he and Joan would call me.  This would be our first call.  I walked to the end of my driveway and my cell phone rang.  A lady came on the line and she was "voicing" for Joan.  Even though it was a lady, she was voicing what Joanie was signing.  She said, "Mommy, this is Joan.  I love you. I love you.  I want to carve pumpkins."  My child had a voice yesterday.  My child was able to talk to me when I wasn't looking at her.  Yes, there was a brief, brief moment I grieved her hearing was bitter sweet.  But, God is SOOOO GOOD!  I talked back to the lady and she was signing to Joan and I know Joan understood that the lady's signing was me talking to Joan.  It was humbling that I could not talk to her myself but the Lord's provision was perfect and I'm so thankful for this technology.  I had tears in my voice, the lady signing for us had tears in her voice and I walked back in the house and Jerry had tears also.  Joan was soooo excited and she completely understood what was happening.  Joanie wanted to begin calling all of her friends and she did make a few calls.  We had a different interpreter each time we made a different call and each time, I could see how this child of God, spread the Love of Christ without a voice but with the most beautiful signing and expressions that I have ever seen.  God enlarged her territory yesterday with her new phone.  She was happy talking with the interpreter's.  She asked each one of them their name.  They are not suppose to give out their name but one of them (who was deaf) told her his name but asked her to keep it a secret.  She loved this because she's learning to keep secrets...We have to practice this before Christmas or she will tell every gift that she purchases for everyone.  Anyway, maybe you will get a call from Joan.  It may make you uncomfortable because you will have to depend on an interpreter...but isn't that what the Holy Spirit interpreter so that we can let God penetrate our hearts and minds even more?  It's okay to feel uncomfortable when Joan calls you on her new phone.  It's okay to admit you need help talking to her but don't let pride inhibit a relationship with her.  This is her way of communicating and I promise you will be blessed when you experience it with her.  The Lord has enlarged her territory.  I'm humbled by his provision.  "But thanks be to God, who ALWAYS lead us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him."  Father, help us to spread the good news of YOU and the sweetness of YOUR love for us.  Help all of our words and actions be pleasing to YOU!  Help us to always choose YOU!

Love to ALL!

Amiee :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"We are Back to School"

"After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:  "Hallelujah!"  Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,..."

"There is a "roar" in heaven when these children pray!"

School has finally started back.  It's going really well for everyone.  Laurel is a junior.  Coleman is a freshman.  Shamira is in 6th grade.  Joan is in first and Derrick is in Kindergarten.  I feel like a shuttle some days having 5 children in 4 different schools but God always gets me where I need to be and I haven't forgotten anyone yet.  Shamira has one final medical test to be done.  As soon as I have a date for surgery I will be asking for prayers for her and her team.  Over the past two or three weeks I have forgotten why she was here.  I don't see the scars when I look at her anymore.  I see an excitement about being a part of our family and the joy and love she has for us humbles me every day.  She's not fearful of us anymore.  She has opened up about her past and she is beginning to trust us.  God has brought her here but I'm beginning to see that HE is using her in my life to remind me that I am not in control.  HE is.  Sometimes things aren't always the way they seem.  I have struggled with that so much.  I'm a "rule follower".  I like to make a list and mark it off.  What God continues to show me through Uganda is that I am to live one day at a time and that HE will give me the plan.  I am not to make it for HIM.  I could go through the list of places Shamira has been and all of the first foods and experiences that she has tried but nothing compares to seeing her embrace the new life God is giving her.  Her testimony is powerful and I can't wait for her to share it...hopefully soon.  

Since J and D have been here for a year, I decided to let them each choose an extra curricular activity.  D has chosen soccer.  His first game is this Saturday.  He hasn't been to a practice yet.  But he has worn his shin guards and socks a good bit so I'm pretty sure he's ready at anytime if the coach calls and says "lets go." He's most excited about getting gatorade after the game because that's what Coleman does.  I'll be looking forward to posting a quick update after the first game.  I have no idea what to expect but for sure a lot of smiles.  

Joanie is in dance.  All she really wanted to do was ballet.  She didn't want the tap and jazz shoes.  Laurel goes with her to interpret for her.  The lady at the studio told me Joan would be fine to be in there without someone signing for her.  I got a little offended by this because of course no one can sign to Joan.  Joan deserves to know what conversations others are having with her.  My heart ached a little thinking about Joan's deafness again.  It is not a problem for's my problem.  But, she is my baby and I will always fight for her to have  language  and if I have to go to every dance class, every activity she wants to participate in I will.  I'm learning sign language as fast as I can.  It's getting a little easier but I still have a long way to go.   Oh give me gray hairs but you are keeping me young :)

I'm so proud of Laurel.  She is running cross country.  It wasn't her choice but she is doing it and she is sticking with it.  She is responding and not reacting to this decision that was made for her and I love her for this.  I love her coach and his philosophy and I think he will be a positive influence on Laurel.   Laurel has a way of encouraging others that is a gift from God.  I have a feeling, she is getting to use this gift through her cross country training.  I can't wait to go to her first meet.  I'll be waiting for her as she crosses the finish line.  I am her number one fan :)

Coleman is playing football.  I don't understand all of the positions he plays.  I don't understand the veer offense.  I try not to ask to many questions because I sense a tad of annoyance when I do.  My role is to be the prayer warrior for him and to gently remind him that in "all things we are to glorify God."  I believe Coleman does glorify God.  I  whisper to him no matter if you win or loose, you can still glorify God.  I remind him to pray for himself and his teammates.  Teaching him to pray is all I can teach him about football.  I have to admit, I am less excited about him playing high school football.  There seems to be such a variance of sizes of children...they are still children to me.  They don't have the "little children" smell anymore.  They smell BAD.  But, they are children.  I'm seeing Laurel and Coleman turn into a handsome young man and a beautiful young woman before my very eyes.  I see their brown eyed siblings look to them for wisdom and advice and love.  It's a beautiful thing. It's a God thing.  I am blessed to witness it and write it down.  

Todd's extra curricular activity is the NFL Sunday package on Direct T.V. and LSU.  You would really think with all of the games I have watched with him over almost 22 years of marriage I would understand the game a little better.  I don't.  I have a gift of "tuning out sports".  What can I say?  God equipped me in this way because HE knew I couldn't take it.  I LOVE to watch football and golf with Todd.  Some of the best naps I've taken have been during some of the biggest games :)  It works for us. 

I posted the picture above because as school has started and I have worked to get 5 children's back to school clothes, 5 children's immunizations, school supply lists, meet the teachers, schedules, etc. I am reminded that the children at Rays of Hope are still just as thankful probably more thankful to have a safe place to go and maybe get two meals a day.  As I stay in the ways of this world, they are truly living one day at a time.  God uses them in my life to whisper to me, "in all things, Glorify Me..." When they worship, it is a "roar of great multitude".  Lord, help me to remember that all of the busyness that I create for my children the most important lesson I can teach them is "Salvation and power and glory belong to YOU!"


Amiee :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"One Year Ago"

"For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."  Ephesians 2: 8-10

"One year ago"
This morning as I am reflecting over the past year, my heart is heavy and thankful. It's been one year since the good Lord brought Joan and Derrick home.  I am blessed.  I have watched God move mountains in Uganda and in America.  Through the adoption process, God showed me how "powerless" I am and how MIGHTY HE is.  I haven't gone back and read my previous blogs but I remember I surrendered.  I remember I was broken.  I remember HE didn't forsake me or the children.  I remember I couldn't wait to hold them, feed them and love them.  They were soooooo much smaller than I thought they would be.  Joan's spirit was larger than still is.  Derrick was timid and gentle and his could anyone not adore him.  I remember on the plane ride to Africa, a little past Amsterdam I had slight chest pains.  We were just over half way there and we had been traveling a long, long time.  They were still so far away.  This trip was my first time out of the USA.  As we got closer to Uganda, the food changed, the language changed, my comfort level changed.  I quickly became a minority.  As I remember that night at Entebbe Airport, I long to go back to that uncomfortableness because through that, I was so close to the LORD.  I was uncomfortable but I wasn't afraid.  "Pre-Uganda", uncomfortable meant fearful to me.  The loving arms of Christ were waiting to welcome me in the airport that night, through Joan and Derrick but also Joel, Colby and Allen.  Christ was waiting for me at SOZO.  He's there!  The SOZO children's English was not as easy for me to understand as I had hoped.  Their Ugandan accent was strong.  It didn't matter.  I had heard their stories.  I had seen their pictures from the year before.  I had seen their "brokenness" and it broke me.  The way they worship is more powerful than any church service I have ever experienced.  It is beautiful, glorifying and HOLY!  Thanks to the obedience of a few, (Alan, Jay and Suzanne) the love of Christ is living through these children and they are AMAZING.  It's the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed in my life.  I spend a lot of time "blogging" about the one's that live with me.  I enjoy sharing about them.  But, I can never forget where they came from and the one's that God has called to be the Light in the darkness, the SOZO children, the SOZO family.  Many people think that my children are SOZO children.  They are part of the SOZO family but they are Rays of Hope children.  When all of the Rays of Hope children are living in a SOZO house or they are sponsored and fed regularly, Joan, Derrick and Shamira will be SOZO children.  I pray for that to be soon!  There is nothing I can boast about raising these children.  If you could see what Aggie, Matto and the rest of the SOZO parents do, my life looks easy.  What a privilege it is for me to get to be a part of these children's journey!  My faith is what sustains me each day.  I don't want my life to be about me being comfortable and satisfied.  I want my life to reflect the Glory of God's grace.  I want to raise my children to depend on HIM, not on me.  It's so hard but so necessary.  I don't know what challenges today will bring but I know HE will be there with me.  I am praying about taking another trip to Uganda.  I don't know what that will look like.  HE's got me on a "need to know" basis and when it's time HE will let me know :)  If you have questions about Uganda, SOZO, Rays of Hope, please feel free to email me.  I'm praying that my "blogging" will begin to go a little deeper and that God will continue to stretch me.  Thank you Father for YOUR grace.  YOUR grace has saved me :)

Praising God From Whom All Blessings Flow,

Amiee :)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

"... choose this day whom you will serve..."Joshua 24:15

We had a WONDERFUL vacation over the fourth of July.  We went to the beach.  Everyone had a different favorite moment.  My favorite moment was watching Shamira see the ocean for the first time.  (Joan and Derrick had already been to the beach last fall.)  She was so excited!  The sand was clean and white.  The water was clear and the waves were just high enough to be fun but not over powering.  I had started reading a "Junie B. Jones" book with Shamira a couple of weeks ago.  She could read all of the words in the book.  The story was about Junie going on "vacation".  I asked Shamira if she knew what a vacation was.  She said "no".  I explained to her that on "vacation" you go with your family to another town to "get away" from all of the stress of the day to day activity.  You rest, overeat, and pray that your soul will feel rejuvenated so that when you return home, you can go back to the insanity of the world.  Shamira was probably thinking, "what do you have to get away from?".   She just hasn't lived here long enough yet. :)  There is so much in my definition of "vacation" that I need to examine.  Truly, Uganda was a "vacation" for me last summer and I DIDNOT rest or overeat BUT my soul was rejuvenated in a way that it never has been before.

Shamira has been here for one month.  There is nothing she will not eat.  There is nothing she hasn't embraced about "the American way".  I have to admit, I can't imagine my life without her.  She is slowly creeping into my heart.  My mind is saying this will be to much for me.  My mind is saying I won't be able to keep up with 5 kids.  My heart won't be able to take her back to Uganda.  Then, in the chaos of having 5 children, my husband says, "she's already my daughter".  There it is!  The Holy Spirit has spoken to me through my husband.  Remember, when I surrendered to God, the first thing HE showed me was that I needed to submit to my husband.  I have had some very good conversations with some of you about the difference in "submitting" vs. "surrendering".  I have surrendered.  The world encourages me to pick up what I have already put down.  I'm thankful that I recognize this and have sisters that remind me when I don't remember.  The bottom line is who am I going to "choose this day to serve".  I choose HIM.  I chose HIM.  I have not gone back on my decision.  So, what does that look like in my life?  It means I will live one day at a time.  I will not think about the complications of having 5 children, all with "special needs".   God will show me the way each and every minute.  I will not worry about what tomorrow will bring.  I will thank God every day for the blessings HE has given me.

"I'm pretty sure Joel was provoking the ostrich!"

"Happy Birthday 2011 Derrick!"

 July 9th, 2012, we celebrated Derrick's birthday.  Last year, Laurel and I celebrated with Derrick, Joan, Kenneth and Joel at the zoo in Uganda.  It was quite an experience.  They had monkeys crawling all over the outside of the cages.  Some of the fences were about waist high with a big ditch between us and the animals.  It didn't look to be the "safest zoo" I had ever been to but being with Derrick on his birthday was an answered prayer.  I was thankful to be with him.  This year, we had a Spider Man cake, and by Derrick's request, "a big juicy steak".  The children have watched others have birthday's for a year and so this birthday was really exciting for Derrick.  Joan is already counting the days on the calendar for hers next month.  Shamira's birthday is Christmas Day!

Last week, Shamira saw the orthopedic surgeon.  He couldn't have been any nicer.  He says it's going to be very difficult to "straighten" her arm.  He has operated on many NFL players and he may not realize the prayer warriors that will be with him while he's caring for sweet Shamira. All I could think when he was telling me how challenging this operation  was going to be, "I've seen God move mountains."  I'm praying that God will move a mountain with Shamira's healing.  We are anticipating surgery the first of August.  I don't know much more than that.  I'm hopeful that she can start school in August or September.  She has no idea what can and will be done cosmetically to her body.  All she asks for is to be able to use her arm.

As I have spent the summer home with the children, God has reminded me again and again of HIS mercy on my life.  The older girls have shared some of their memories of Joan in Kabalagala.  These stories break my heart for what breaks HIS.  There's no doubt in my mind or in my heart that our "transracial family" is part of HIS plan.  I had a sweet friend ask me to share my testimony about our adoption.  After reflecting upon her request, I told her my testimony is about obedience, not adoption.  God has used adoption to give me a platform to reveal my sinful heart and how if I obey HIM, HE blesses my life in ways that I wouldn't have dared to ask.  I pray that I never forget whom I serve and that HE breaks my heart for what breaks HIS.

Praising HIM From Whom All Blessings Flow,

Amiee :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012


"We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up." Romans 15: 1-2

It's been two weeks since Shamira and Phiona have been in America.  We are learning a lot about each other.  I am learning a lot about myself as well.  It's very tempting for me to share only part of our time together but I am reminded that God is glorified by our trials and suffering...James 1:2 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."  So, I am considering it "pure joy" that we are facing a few trials of many kinds.  I know that my faith is being testing and I know that God will persevere.  There have been some surprises for me living with Shamira.  That means that I had "expectations" and I should not have.  My hope was in my own knowledge of what I thought would happen instead of waiting for God to show me.  I have recognized this and I have put "expectations" down.  Expectations can be a trap that Satan sets for me when I become complacent with my relationship with the Lord.  Thank you Father that I recognize this.  Here are some of the things I have learned about Shamira...She's the best dancer in the family...sorry Joanie but she just is.  Hamburgers are her favorite food.  She likes to eat, a lot!  She would rather take a bath than a shower.  She misses some of the relationships she had in Kabalagala.  She is afraid of the night, not the dark.  She LOVES Todd!  She likes to set the table and start the dishwasher...even if there are only a few dishes in it :)  She likes to "shadow"...color.  She likes math better than reading.  She says she wants to be an accountant because she likes to count money...I have no idea where she learned about accountants.  She is not attached to me yet.  I think I can go as far to say she avoids me.  I think I scare her.  This has really perplexed me. (pride? yes!)  Trust is something I desire but when I really start to think about it, it's something I struggle with.  Maybe she does too.  On Thursday we went to see the surgeon that has bent over backwards to get her to the United States but also is completely devoted to seeing this child's body be healed.  His name is Dr. Michael Beckinstein.  You will be hearing a lot about him.  When Todd called him to ask if he would consider helping Shamira Todd had not even finished with her story and he said "YES!"  Her appointment was Thursday and Dr. Beckinstein called Todd about 7:30 Wednesday night to see if we'd like to meet him with Shamira to get yogurt.  Dr. B thought she might be more comfortable seeing him on Thursday if she had met him before.  (I have not heard of a doctor going this much out of the way for a patient.)  Again, it's great not to have expectations.  So much to the dismay of the rest of the children, the three of us went to meet Dr. Beckinstein, his daughter and her friend for yogurt.  We had a great time.  I don't think I mentioned previously, Shamira has been a handful for me... I hadn't "expected" her to be.  God knew she was going to be but  I hadn't "expected" her to be.  I was disappointed, a little mad and resentful that I am really having to treat her more like a 3 year old than a 12 year old.  I didn't "expect" her to like to play with light switches, the blinds, the garage door opener, the t.v., the remote controls, the dishwasher, to hide when I call her, to pull things out of the attic, to eat candy and hide it from me, etc.  My fault, not hers... I'm the one that had "expectations".  We had a great time at the yogurt place!  Dr. Beckinstein's daughter was so good with Shamira.  They are almost the same age.  It was truly surreal sitting there with them.  I saw Shamira's demeanor soften a bit.  I saw her cling to Todd with her eyes.  He is her safe place.  The next day, she and I went for her appointment with Dr. Beckinstein.  They treated her like she was the only patient they had.  Their waiting room was packed.  We only waited for a few minutes.  I noticed Shamria had a hard time focusing.  The waiting room was beautiful, probably not like the other doctors offices and hospitals she's been to before.  They called us back and every single person we walked past introduced themselves to us.  Shamira looked timid and unsure.  They went beyond what I "expected".  I had seen pictures of Shamira's scars but I have never seen them for myself.  Some of them you can see when she wears a sundress but the worst part you cannot see when she's clothed.  They gave her the paper gown to put on and she giggled.  I didn't "expect" it to bother her as much as it did. She hid her face but I was thankful she didn't run out of the room.  As she sat on the table waiting for Dr. Beckinstein to come in, she stared out of the window.  It was a beautiful view of the city of Birmingham.  I wanted to know so badly what she was thinking but at the same time I could see she was working things out in her mind.  She was remembering why she was in the wasn't to go tubing or play with was to heal her.  I asked her, "what are you thinking?"  She answered, "it's very different here".  That's all she said and I left it at that.  I knew her story of how her accident happened.  I have never heard it from her but I asked her before we got to the doctor if she could tell me how she got her scars.  All she told me was that her "step mom" poured the "pot" on her and her "sister" took her to the doctor.  As she was undressing from her paper gown and I saw for myself her scars, God broke my heart...She wouldn't look at herself in the mirror.  She closed her eyes and covered her face.   Another woman did this to her, someone that should have protected her!  In her mind, I may be no different that her step mom.  It's going to take her a while to trust me.  I am going to have to earn it before she gives it to me.  God showed that to me in the office that day.  How could someone have done this to her, especially a woman?  I do not understand.  There are a lot of things I don't understand about Kabalagala and I'm never going to.  I do not know if this woman that did this to her is alive or dead.  I do not know her circumstances.  If she is alive, I would not be surprised if I met her.  I don't know why but that's how I feel.  Dr. Beckinstein told me that we would start surgeries in July.  He said the first one is going to be the hardest.  It will be painful for her.  It will be a slow process of healing.  As we were leaving the office another lady on his staff introduced herself to Shamira and told her, "you are part of our family now and we are going to take care of you".  I'd like to take that lady to Uganda with me.  That's it!  WE are All family and that is how you love your neighbor.  She gets it!  Dr. Beckinstein "gets it".  I'm so honored to be on this journey with Shamira.  Oh Shamira, forgive me for having "expectations" of you.  You are a precious child of the King of Kings!  You are beautiful and wonderfully made in HIS image.  You are HIS daughter and HE counts you worthy!  Lord, equip our family to love her through her journey.  Give me extra patients and understanding with her.  Help me to put my "expectations" down!  Thank you for sharing her with us.  Lord, we who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak.  Lord, I am strong only through YOUR grace.  Help me to live to please YOU and not myself.  Help Shamira to see YOUR love for her through our family.  Protect my marriage and my children during this time of healing her body.  Put an extra hedge of protection around our home.  Satan hates what is happening through SOZO Father.  Help our resolve to stay in Uganda become even stronger.  Bless each child at SOZO and Rays of Hope today. Lord, give others the courage to serve these children.  Make us so uncomfortable through their suffering that we move closer to YOU.  Help me to live to please YOU and to build up my neighbors.

In Your Grip,

Amiee :)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

"You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked."  Revelation 3:17


"Skyping with Joel"

"Tubing at the Lake"

"Laurel and Shamria swimming"

Two days ago, my blended family was normal and I didn't even know it.  We had a routine.  We have traditions.  We work together to achieve a common goal, whether it's getting to an activity together on time, celebrating that we didn't get an 'opp's note' at school, etc.  Normal things that happen in every family that we have worked so hard to achieve have quickly become "our new normal".  We have worked through so much and it's really only been about 10 months.  This time last year, I dreamed of getting my two brown babies home safe and sound.  On Thursday, May 24th, 2012, two worlds collided, again.  I didn't know that was what was happening but guess who did?  The MAN upstairs... He knew because HE has brought two of HIS most precious children to Alabama.  Why did HE do this?  Because HE loves us...The meeting at the airport was again surreal.  It was not like when Joan and Derrick came home but it was ordained by God.  Their flights were not delayed.  I did not have the relationship with these children like I had with Joan and Derrick.  The circumstances are definitely different.  They are here for medical needs...that's what I told myself anyway.  That's what I prepared for by sending email after's all about helping the poor, the fatherless...Right?  I didn't realize that I was "wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked".  I'm going to journal as truthfully as I can because that is the only way I will be able to see truly how GREAT our GOD is.  As the girls were walking towards us, they had their heads down with "hoodies" on.  I couldn't see their faces.  I couldn't imagine their "excitement"...They looked exhausted and one of them looked scared to me.  I don't think she was but I would have been.  Maybe she was.   I reluctantly embraced them because they seemed so fragile.  I am a stranger to them.  They are a stranger to me.  They asked for two things before they left Uganda...Was there going to be ice cream on the plane and would Todd be at the airport waiting for them.  I don't know if they had ice cream or not but Todd was waiting for the girls at the gate and his excitement was contagious.  They were so happy to see him and Suzanne and we were all glad they finally made it safely.  We had a late lunch with Suzanne and a few others.  It was interesting to see the dynamics change immediately in my "new normal family".  I saw my brown children go back to Kabalagala.  Todd and I expected this.  If they were still living in Uganda, these 12 year old children would be my 5 and 7 year old children's care takers.  These 12 year old girls are considered "grown women" in their culture.   There is very little opportunity for them.  I'm sure they are in a bit of "culture shock".  So am I.   I will reluctantly share with you that Shamira will not look at me when she talks to me.  When I call her name, she sometimes runs from me and hides, even locked the door on me once...( I do know how to turn those locks around.  We had to do that with Laurel and Joanie :)  She is still on a different time zone and I'm sure that will get better quickly.  We are now teaching Joan and Derrick that  Shamira is "not the boss" of them and we are teaching Shamira that "Todd and I are the boss of her".  I can't imagine how conflicted she must feel.  She is not used to having a bed or a home like the one she's in now.  She has been protecting herself for 12 years...her entire life and now the "muzunga's" are trying to tell her what to do and what NOT to do...Maybe she'd rather be poor again but God said "NO".  He has blessed our lives with each other and I will obey HIM.  It will not be easy.  It is going to be exhausting but we will glorify the LORD with our suffering.  (I do think we are going to suffer.)  Unfortunately, God knows I drift if I'm not seeing HIS cross right in front of me.  I will see HIS cross through these precious children.  I pray that I can reflect the same unconditional love that HE has for me to them.  They are going to endure a lot.  There is no way they can comprehend this.  They are not supposed to.  I think it could be through the medical journey when they realize, "we need these muzunga's".  God has called our family to love them through it.  He knows we can and I pray that we will.  It will be a choice to love them well, not a feeling always.  We are trying not to look past today because that's all we have.  We took the girls to the lake.  They had never been swimming before and they were so excited.  They warmed up to the water as the day went on and they were sad to leave.  Every moment is a "disney world" moment to them.  They have had their first warm shower, ridden their first bike, eaten ice cream whenever they wanted, slept in beds, all things my prideful self think I deserve daily.  So, our Great Creator brought these girls to Eagle Valley Lane to once again reveal my pride because HE loves me and HE continues to pursue me.  I can't seem to talk HIM out of it :)

Praising God From Whom All Blessings Flow,

Amiee :)