He Snores A Little

www.firmanchor.com

www.firmanchor.com

Well, I have been Mrs. Kavuma for one month now. Well not “officially” I guess because I still haven’t gotten my social security card in the mail, but who really cares about the legal stuff? As far as I’m concerned, I’m married to the sweetest, most servant-hearted, easily excitable, soccer-obsessed man around. 

As I type this I am sitting up in bed while he is still snoozing away and every once in a while he will let out a little snore (sorry babe), and I think to myself, it’s only going to get worse. I have heard my dad snore and I am pretty sure that he didn’t sound like that when he was in his 20’s or my mom would have forced him to get his nose checked. So I have to conclude that men only get worse in the snoring department as they get older. And that little thought makes me smile; I’m so thankful that I am the person who gets to listen to his snoring get worse. 

[Someone please remind me in 15 years that I said that] 

But seriously, I think I am kind of starting to understand why people say that love is blind. Because even those hard parts when you can’t understand each other, or you don’t agree on what you should spend your Target gift cards on, or you are overwhelmed with Etsy orders and have seriously no time to even take a shower (desperate times, people), they seem like such a huge dilemma in the moment, but after the drama has passed I am right back to smiling at the fact that he is snoring in the cutest way. 

www.firmanchor.com

www.firmanchor.com

We were just talking last night about how it’s still weird to say that we are married or to say my last name is Kavuma now, it’s a serious life change and I guess it just takes a while to sink in. It’s not just the title that is hard to change though. In just the short, fast month that has passed since our beautiful wedding day, we have seen plain and clear how we are very flawed people. When you go from not seeing each other for a year, to battling the visa process for 6 stressful weeks in Uganda,  to coming home and getting married a week later and diving straight into work and life and Christmas of all things, it can all start to get a little blurred. 

There are moments that I look at him and wonder, what in the world were you thinking?? I’m pretty sure that’s normal, and I have heard many people say that about their spouse, but when you are in the moment it’s hard to have patience and show a little love towards the person that you just promised to spend the rest of your life with. But thankfully there are the moments that I am so overwhelmed by his care, like when he was up all night with me 3 days ago because I had a head cold and couldn’t stop coughing and blowing my nose. I was ready to take care of myself because that is what I have been doing for so many years. I had the medicine ready, the water, the tissues, but in that moment I realized that maybe I didn’t need him, but I wanted him. I wanted Paul to hand me the glass of water, to pour the medicine, to stay up with me and get more tissues when I had gone through the last one for the third time. He wanted to be needed, he wanted to help, and I was thankful in that moment that this month, with all of its challenges was just the start of this life with a man who has a slight snore. 

facebook.com/jenniferedlinphotography/

facebook.com/jenniferedlinphotography/

We are still adjusting, things are so busy right now. We are in the middle of the craziest season of the year with Thistle & Thread Design. Paul has been the biggest help and I don’t know how I would be able to get everything done in time without him. He isn’t working yet because we are waiting on his work permit, but I am thankful that my job is flexible enough that we can spend most of our time together and I don’t have to leave all day to go to work. We get frustrated sometimes, especially him, waiting on things to be processed because we are anxious to “settle”, but I know that we are going to look back on this unique time that we have when most of our days are spent together and wish them back when they are gone.

I know that a year from now we are going to be in a totally different stage of life. The struggles that come in this first month will be different than the struggles that come in the 14th month. Our joys will increase and our love with grow. I can already see how he has become more dear to me than he was when I agreed to be his wife. Marriage is an adjustment, but it’s such a gift that you don’t have to do it alone. We have shared so many joys together in the few days. It has been so much fun. It’s hard to remember what it was like before our lives were so intertwined. Adjusting is hard, it always is no matter the reason. I’m just glad that he is adjusting to the same marriage that I am, and understands the struggles that I am going through all the same. Although I don’t snore. 😉 

facebook.com/jenniferedlinphotography

facebook.com/jenniferedlinphotography

The Long Awaited Visa Interview

Nairobi, Kenya

Yesterday Paul and I made our way to the Embassy of the United States of America in Nairobi, Kenya. It was very early in the morning when we left the guest house we have rooms at and boarded a matatu [public transportation] for the city. I think we both had some pretty massive butterflies in our stomach as we sat in the taxi and went over our file again and again. This file, or should I say book of every detail of our life together over the past 2 years, has basically consumed our thoughts and time for about 2 months now, and so much work and effort has gone into preparing it and making sure that it was perfect so that we can convince the Embassy workers that we are indeed in love. 

The longer we sat on the matatu the more we realized that we were not going to make it to the Embassy for our 7:15am appointment. Nairobi is a really large city and has about as much congestion as Los Angeles or New York city at rush hour. The confused traffic signals and disregard of any rules of the road doesn’t help at all either. So, we asked the conductor if he could just let us off early and we found a boda boda [motorbike used for public transportation] and asked if he could take us the rest of the way to the Embassy. 

Now, if we were in Uganda, we would have taken a boda boda probably from the beginning because they outnumber all other forms of transportation 8:1, but in Nairobi they are harder to find, and as we soon found out, not at all faster. In Uganda you can take a boda in rush hour and it will whiz around traffic and you will make it through hours before everyone else sitting in their car, but in Nairobi, the guy was actually sitting in the lines of traffic. Paul had to tell the guy that he needed to hurry and start weaving, I think the guy had never been so scared…he was not our kind of boda guy that’s for sure. 

We arrived at the Embassy at 7:22am and ran to the first security check where we split off and Paul was being inspected by the male guard and I proceeded to the female. I was busy spreading my arms and legs when I heard the male guard scolding Paul. I looked over to see that Paul was trying to wipe a moist towelette that we had in our bag on the guards hand to show him what the function of the wipe was. I couldn’t help but laugh. Who cares that the guard thought Paul was trying to attack him with a baby wipe. 

After barely making it through the security check, we made our way to the check-in gate Paul’s name was marked as present, and we were told that he had to leave me at this point. We said goodbye, I wished him good luck, and away he went. This was my cue to take out my sewing so that my mind wouldn’t be racing and I would bite off all my nails before our wedding. About an hour and a half after he went in he was able to come out and bring me some coffee and a donut. I was so happy to see him and he said that he had submitted his paperwork and was just waiting to be called for his interview. I could see the nerves on his face. He only stayed out with me for about 3 minutes then rushed back in so that he wouldn’t miss his number being called. 

While I waited I decided to become friends with the guard just in case anything weird happened with Paul’s interview and I needed to sweet talk my way in. He was a nice guy, very interested in my sewing. He told me I needed to sell them, I told him that was a good idea. If I had a Thistle & Thread business card I would have handed it over; so much for always being prepared. I think I could have sold about a dozen hoops while I was sitting there if I had them ready to go. Almost every person that passed me was deeply interested and asked me if I had my own business. I need to work on my Kenya business plan….

After another hour and a half, I looked up and sweet Paul was making his way out again. I knew this was it. I tried to read his face as he made it way to me, and it was the easiest face to read. There was no way that he was going to hide this emotion. He quickly got out his green piece of paper and gave me the biggest hug, it was over. He had his visa. These last 10 months of waiting, the year apart, the work put into our file, the praying, playing scenarios over in our heads again and again, it was all over. 

Paul with his visa Approval | Nairobi, Kenya | US Embassy

Look at that smile! This smile is the product of months and months of waiting and hard work. Praise God for that smile!

Before we went for the interview, Paul and I had been praying that God would give us peace no matter the circumstance because we know that he works everything out for his glory, which is ultimately for our good if we trust him and want his glory more than our own. Those prayers were hard. It was hard to pray that we would have contentment no matter the outcome when our hearts so badly wanted this to work and to travel to America on October 22nd and get married on October 31st. But God, in his kindness towards us, gave Paul favor before the Embassy officials, and allowed him to be granted this visa. 

So many times through this process, especially when it was taking long or back in the summer when Paul was denied the visa to expedite the process, we would become so frustrated that our relationship was being dictated by the government. But we now realize how naive we were to think that. At no point did the American government hold the future of our relationship in their hands. They were being used by the Lord, and everything was done in his timing. 

Thank you so much to everyone that has remembered us in your prayers and walked with us through this process. In some ways it feels that we have reached the end of a long long journey, but the reality is that our journey is only continuing. We are on the road to becoming one, becoming the Kavumas. This step is over, and we are more ready than ever to trust the Lord with the steps that he brings our way from here on out. I am always reminded of this quote from John Piper, “Be strong and know that God will be as faithful in the future as you know he has been in the past.” So, we will continue to be strong and trust the God who has shown so much kindness towards us as we make our way to the States in a few days and get ready for our wedding!

The Art of Cherishing Friendships

Woven Baskets | Uganda

When I was leaving the village of Kubamitwe a year ago, I was saying goodbye to many many people that had become like family to me over the months that I lived there. It’s such a gift to know that you can meet people and within the span of a year you can learn to trust, you can share in life’s burdens, and they can begin to count you as one of their own. There is one family that stands out in particular when I think about this, the Kiyingi family. I would walk to the village of Kiteredde at least once a week to teach a bible study to some women out there. We would sit at the house of George and Edith Kiyingi and about 7 other women would join us for about two hours. I was really nervous when we first started meeting because I didn’t know the language and I had never used a translator before, but the barriers started falling slowly by slowly and true friendships were forming. 

We prayed for women as they were preparing to give birth, we prayed for mothers-in-law who were sick and not able to attend the bible study, we laughed as someone tried to recount their incident in the garden earlier that day when their cow was stubborn and they struggled to pull her out on their own and slipped straight into the mud, we shared things and enjoyed life together. I loved that bible study. 

Missions | Uganda, East Africa

George and Edith after they were baptized together.

After about 3 months in the village I started going out to Kiteredde a little more often than once a week. Edith, George’s wife, was wanting to learn English and I agreed to do my best to teach her. In return for my lessons, George agreed to give me lessons in Luganda. He received his university degree from a school in Russia and was his English was perfect. I loved how George has traveled and would be considered very cultured, but once his education was finished he returned to the village to live the life that he loves in Uganda. 

Over the following months, I would spend many hours a week with George and Edith. Her English was improving as well as my Luganda, but what I was most thankful for was the inside view of a sweet and loving Ugandan family. They shared life with each other, loved their children, and tried to do what was best for everyone in the family. As Paul and I were becoming more serious in our relationship, George and Edith were there to offer guidance and encouragement. I always loved learning how to be a proper Muganda woman from the two of them, and watching Edith cook was better than any show on the Food Network. Even as I was away and Paul was no longer living in Kubamitwe, he would still take time to spend with George and check in on their family. They have remained close to us through a very long year. 

African children | Uganda, East Africa

Me and their oldest son, Ethan (left) at his graduation from P1

We are having a very small wedding at the end of October, and as a gift to our guests, we wanted to give them a piece of Uganda. We thought and thought about what that could be, and I remembered when I was leaving Kubamitwe over a year ago, Edith hand made me a woven basket as a gift of love and I could not treasure it more. It is made from the natural fibers found in the village and twisted together by her hands to form a perfect basket. So, Paul and I asked if she could make enough for all the guests at our wedding. She was so sweet to agree and we were able to go a few days ago and pick them from her. I was completely overwhelmed at how beautiful they are and it makes me so excited for our wedding when we can give them to our guests. 

As we were going out to the village again to see the Kiyingi family and pick the baskets I was filled with so many emotions as I remembered my time there. I know that season of life is over, but I loved it and treasure it so much in my heart. When we arrived I ran to greet the family and as George was giving me a hug he said to Edith that it feels like just yesterday I was sitting with them at their home. I couldn’t agree more. 

It’s such a gift to have friends that you can hold so dear in your heart even when they are thousands of miles away and you know that you can’t see them for months and months. Saying goodbye a few days ago was hard because we know that it will be even longer before we see this family again. But we were comforted knowing that they will always have a place in our lives, and it helps that we convinced George to get a Facebook. 

Re-Entry Period After a Year Apart

2015-09-14 09.34.18

I have been in Uganda for almost 3 weeks now and I think that this time coming has been the most bizarre and unconventional trip I have ever taken. It started with the cray flight mishaps where my 18 hour flight turned into a 54 hour flight as well as my luggage going AWOL. The 3 airlines that I flew on have still (3 weeks later) not been able to locate the bag that contained all of my sewing supplies for Thistle & Thread, my clothing, toiletries, and a laptop and audio equipment sent over by a friend to give to his brother and sister here in Uganda. I really wish it was just peanut butter, coffee, and candy in that bag, but unfortunately it isn’t. But, Paul has been sweet to calm me down when I am ready to unleash a well organized attack against the major airline companies with the full intent to take them down so they can never operate again. 

But I digress. As frustrating and time consuming as the luggage situation has been, this time in Uganda has been just what my heart needed. I can’t even express what it’s like to be able to be with Paul again after a long year apart. It’s such a weird feeling because I almost feel like this last year was a dream that never happened and we have just always been able to hang out every day and travel to Kenya together and have dinner and see friends and enjoy each other. I am so thrilled that this is what the rest of my life is going to look like. 

2015-09-22 09.01.06

Early morning coffee dates. We are officially addicted to African Tea and plan on serving it to every person who comes to our home.

We have been busy busy since I arrived. Paul has quite the large family and we have many friends here that we are trying to see as well as finish up the paperwork for his visa as well as run around to replace my sewing supplies that are in my missing luggage so that I can get something done while I’m here, as well as just kick back and enjoy life together. But in all honesty, it hasn’t been a field of strawberries and butterfly kisses. It’s a shock when you go from functioning in a relationship thousands of miles apart to seeing each other almost every waking moment and trying to navigate all the things that have come up since I have been here. We have had a lot of stressful situations and let’s just say that it’s been interesting trying to understand the other and the way that they respond and how we work together. But, thankfully we are fast learners and I don’t dread trips into town anymore to try and find some obscure item because I know that it will be better than the last time and we won’t get into an argument in the middle of the sidewalk on which direction to go or who was supposed to bring the money. 

What we have learned in the last 18 days: 

  • Always get a receipt when you go to exchange money. 
  • Paul can eat the same food every day for a week. Jordan can’t. 
  • Jordan can’t make porridge, and shouldn’t try. It only results in a ruined breakfast a two grumpy, hungry people. 
  • Jordan shouldn’t assume that when Paul suggests a plan that it is the final plan. All things are up for change. 
  • Jordan doesn’t like to walk briskly through crowds of people, Paul is very good at it. 
  • When Jordan is hot and tired, Paul can buy her a milkshake and the clouds will part and angels descend, and she will jump up and be ready to go for another 4 hours. 
  • Paul makes better tea than Jordan. 
  • Paul hates it when he is trying to get something finished and Jordan wants a hug. But he willingly gives her one while he reaches around her back to finish whatever he was working on. 

I think that we still have a long way to go in our lessons. We are so excited though that our wedding is only 32 days away, and the lessons and adventures will continue to surprise and humble us. Right now as I am typing Paul is preparing our visa file that we will take to the Embassy in Kenya on the 14th. Yes, we have to go back again. This file is more like a book, and we have been a little obsessive in making sure that everything is where it is supposed to be. I am so thankful that he is just as OCD over things as I am. I don’t know if I could have gone through this with anyone else. But please remember us as we finish out this process and head back to the States on October 22nd, Lord willing.

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By God’s grace, we are closer and more in love now than we were 2 years ago. I am so thankful for this guy and everything he brings to this relationship.

He Called Me Fat

He Called Me Fat | Body Image & Self-Doubt

“You’ve gotten a bit fat, Marie.” 

The words came from his mouth with the same love and care as every other word he speaks to me. He called me fat. We were Skyping with each other. It had been quite a few weeks since we had time to sit down and do that. I was so excited to be able to see his sweet face again with his dark eyes and perfect smile. He kept telling me how excited he was to see me again, how beautiful I looked, and that there was just something different about me. 

“Is it my hair? I did just get it cut.” — “No babe, I don’t think.” 

“Oh, maybe my make-up is different.” — “That’s not it.” 

“Ok, I don’t know then.” 

Then it came. Like a ton of bricks. “You’ve gotten a bit fat, Marie.” 

I lived in Uganda for a year, I knew that when he called me fat he was in no way associating it with beauty, worth, value, or anything else that comes along with that word here in the States. He was just making a very (unfortunately) factual statement. I had gotten a bit fat. 

Now, on this side of the ocean we would say, “Oh yea, she has gained a little weight. But she could afford to do that!” or “She’s just a little chubby, but she’s so cute! So real!” But never would we tell someone, especially a girl that she had put on a few pounds. Never. 

I tried so hard in that moment to remember that my sweet Paul loves and cares for me and is attracted to me and would never regret his choice to be with me because I had gained a couple pounds. In actuality, he was happy that I had gained some wait, in his opinion I was too small before. But regardless, when THAT word came falling out of his mouth, I felt like I had lost his admiration forever. He knew as soon as he said it that he had done something very bad. Tears came to my eyes, I became very quiet, my personality shifted. It was terrible. A very long conversation followed. 

It was a great exercise in communication and perception for us. One of the better ones that we have had. And boy did it hurt. It hurt because I had to face some serious body image issues that I have been dealing with for such a long time. I remember being in 4th grade and I was at a pool party with some friends and we were playing Sharks & Minnows. I didn’t want to dive into the pool because I was afraid my legs wouldn’t look as skinny and pretty as the other girls’ as they flew through the air. I lied and told everyone that I was afraid to dive because I had busted my lip diving once before. I had never busted my lip. 

I look back on pictures of myself from 4th grade and feel complete sadness and regret because I let poor body image keep me from being free as a child. And I laugh to myself because I would just love to be that petite again! I mean, I don’t think my stomach has ever been as flat and my legs as lean as when I was in 4th grade. It’s crazy how our mind can manipulate our eyes. How we can look in a mirror and see a completely different person than everyone else sees. 

Unfortunately, this battle with poor self-image has staked it’s ground in my mind throughout many seasons in my life. I choose not to talk about in an attempt to not draw attention to the fact, but that Skype date with Paul opened Pandora’s box. And I am so thankful that it has been thrown wide open. Seeing myself through his eyes, feeling the freedom to talk about my insecurities, learning how he perceives beauty, and accepting his love and admiration has allowed me to move past this constant state of introspection and devaluing of myself, and towards a place of confidence and freedom. 

One thing that Paul said to me that will never leave me was this: “Marie, I need you to be confident. I need you to stop worrying about your body and whether you look like you did 5 years ago, and be thankful for the life you have now. One day we are going to have children and they are going to look to you as an example. Show them that they are beautiful exactly how God made them through loving yourself, exactly the way God made you.” 

He called me fat, then he called me to a place of realization that I am loved and cared for, and that my value and worth is not wrapped up in this fleeting exterior. And for that I am thankful. 




 

Petition Approved: Packing My Bags and Going East

Uganda Travel

 

“The above petition has been approved.”

I read these words with so many feelings and thoughts in my heart. Petition Approved. Paul and I have been waiting to hear these words for seven months and four days now. Those seven months were filled with tears and confusion. Frustration with a government that I was convinced that was out to get us. Plan A, plan B, plan C, plan D….so on, so forth. We had become pretty confident and happy with our latest plan. I was preparing to move back over to Uganda, and we were going to have our wedding from there. We were going to live in a little house together, stumble through the beginnings of a lovely marriage, embrace our unknown life with courage and love. We were ready. We had our budget, our list of to-do’s, our shopping list, temporary jobs, friends and family beside us, then just like that those six words threw themselves before my frantic eyes. 

It was 2am in Uganda and my sweet Paul was fast asleep. Usually I can call him whenever I need to and he will answer, even when he is deep in sleep. This time was different. He had just finished a particularly rough day and that guy was knocked out. So when he finally woke up, at 4am, he was very nervous to learn the reason behind the 14 missed calls. I can be a bit excessive sometimes. 

As soon as I clued him in to the latest development in our visa journey, we immediately started trying to put the pieces together to figure out what had to be done next. But not until after we sat and laughed at how things happen. Of course we would get this letter the day after flights had been arranged and Ugandan wedding plans had been made. It only makes sense. It was a perfect reminder that Paul and I are most definitely not in control. We are just meant to submit, wait, trust, and follow. And that is what we are doing. 

These new plans are exciting and an answer to prayer. It was a prayer that we quit praying a few months ago, but I am just learning more and more about God and his plans and our joy in those plans. I will be going back to Uganda the beginning of September. I will happily  buy a one-way ticket and meet my sweet Paul in Uganda to finish the end of this process. We have his medical examination [Read: shots, lots of shots. Poor guy.] and his final visa interview standing between us and our flight home. It’s an easy road from here on out. We just have to prove that Paul is really Paul, which he is, and prove that we are still in love with each other, which we very much are.

After he has the visa interview he will be good to go and we will hop on a a plane back to the States and make our way to the altar to [finally] become husband and wife. We are not exactly sure when this is going to be. We would love to think that we will be back in the States around the middle of October, but the one-way ticket is being bought because as we have learned these last 7 months of this visa process, things change. 

For those of you who would like to know how you can help us through this final leg of our process, there are some very helpful and practical ways:

— Please pray that we can be patient and wise during this time. Pray that we can love our family and friends in Uganda well as we spend time with them before we move back to the States. This has been a long journey and we have had support from many people so we want to show them the same love they have shown us. 

— Pray that we can quickly get a visa appointment with the embassy in Kenya and that our travels and stay in Kenya will be protected and we will only be met with safety and kindness. 

— I am working hard to stock my Etsy shop, Thistle & Thread Design, and all sales during this time will go towards covering our last visa fees and my living expenses while I stay in Uganda until we can come back to the States. I am happy to take custom orders until August 31st, after that all orders will have to be items that are already in stock in the shop. Your support during this time is huge and I am very thankful that although I will not be working for 2-3 months, I still have this way to provide for different needs through the end of this part of our journey. 

We are thrilled and I can’t wait to continue updating while I am in Uganda. Hurry up September! 




 

My Cell Phone Boyfriend


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Yellow Striped Hello Embroidery Hoop Art

This Hello hoop can be purchased in the Thistle & Thread Design Etsy shop.

“Hello Marie” 

These are the words I get to hear when I put the phone to my ear and spend another day on the phone with my sweet Paul. I have never really loved talking on the phone so much. I wasn’t that girl in high school that spent every night on the phone with her friends. I mean, I had just spent the entire day at school with them. What more was there to say? Paul and I always joke that when we are finally in the same country again that we will throw our phones in a box and leave them there. So don’t be alarmed with you hear from me a little less when he and I are together in a few months….I’m just enjoying having a real life Paul instead of a cell phone Paul. 

This cell-phone-relationship had taught me so much about what it means to connect and communicate with someone. There are times when it would be so nice to just sit and read together, or watch a show, or something simple that doesn’t involve talking. But if we try to do anything like that then the distance screams loud as if to make it’s presence even larger than it already is. So, we choose to talk. Even when we are tired and over it, we choose to talk. Sometimes those conversations consist of something substantial, and sometimes they are just full of blabbering and meaningless talk. But we don’t really mind, we are connecting. We are building. 

I have learned so much about Paul in the last 295 days since I boarded that plane in Uganda and said a very uncertain goodbye. I would love to say that I lifted off that tarmac in Entebbe, Uganda knowing that I would see Paul again and our life would keep growing and moving together, but that wasn’t the case. I was scared, he was scared, there was a lot of stress surrounding us, and many things that were out of our control. But, these last 295 days of talking when we felt like it and talking when we didn’t have strengthened us in ways I didn’t think were possible. 

When I first met Paul I knew him as this quiet guy who was a little withdrawn, I think I might have even called him rude. (We still laugh about that) He kept to himself and wasn’t really known as a chatterbox. He had his few friends, but his personality would never be described as bubbly. But when we were assigned to work a conference together and one day at a registration table led to a six hour conversation which led to a romance I would have never expected, I saw that this quiet guy was not the person I had originally labeled him as.   

I discovered that Paul wasn’t rude, and he wasn’t necessarily quiet. He was just reserved, preserving his words for times that he thought were appropriate. What I discovered was a loyal guy who cherished relationships with people and cherished his time to grow those relationships. Words to him were not just things used to fill space, they were intentional, and sometimes few and far between. 

When my best friend came to visit me and was able to meet Paul she pointed out something very insightful about him. We went to visit him at his university and a group of us were hanging out and ended up sitting around talking. After we left and I grilled Emily about what she thought of Paul she said that it was interesting because he didn’t talk much, but when he did everyone stopped to listen. And that observation let me see a little further into his heart and his intentions. It let me see the way that he approached relationships and the value of conversation.

This time of talking has taught me so much about words. So many times when I am talking  to people I start this nervous chatter because I don’t want there to be an awkward silence. It usually leads to over-sharing or just droning on and on about things that people aren’t interested in and boring them to death. Please forgive me if you have ever been a victim of this offense. Words are and should be meaningful. They can be used and they can be overused. I try to be slower to speak these days and I try to find comfort in silence. I have been guilty of not processing and thinking, and I want to take more time to do that. I want to spend more time meditating on ideas and fleshing out dreams and processing events. Sometimes we can fly through life and never stop to understand it. Don’t be guilty of this. Pause and seek to understand, silence is not always a bad thing, and it is only as awkward as you make it. 

Until we can sit together and experience closeness without talking, I will continue to delight in my daily hearing of “Hello Marie”.

 

This Present Tense Gift


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Hombre Embroidery Hoop Art

This Present Tense Hoop Can Be Found In The Thistle & Thread Design Etsy Shop

About 4 weeks after I returned from Uganda I flew out to Oakland, CA to spend some time with a lovely lovely friend of mine who had lived with me in Uganda for a few months. She lived in the house with me and another friend of ours in the beginning months that I was there and it was seriously my sanity. When she left right before Thanksgiving the jungle seemed a little less vibrant. So you can imagine my joy when I was boarding a plane to visit with her again. 

Before any journey it is essential that I make a playlist. I still have mix CDs from trips that I took as a freshman in high school, and I may or may not still rock out to them on occasion. Since I had been away from pop culture for some time I was a little out of the loop when it came to new music, so for my California adventure I picked the newest Needtobreathe album to jam out to. I had a 10 hour wait in Chicago before my flight left for Oakland, so the memory of walking around the city lugging my suitcase with my ear buds in is a fond one. 

One of my favorite songs from the album is The Heart. The first line in the song goes, “Ain’t not gift life the present tense.” This was heavy for me to process because I was so unhappy with the present tense at the time that I was listening. I had just left Uganda. I had left behind friends, a budding relationship, a culture that I had become used to, a new life that I was accepting as my own. And all this was surrounded with a certain level of stress and turmoil as my time in Uganda, though wonderful and inspiring, wasn’t everything I thought it was going to be. My heart was full of uncertainty. I was uncertain of what I believed about things, hurt by the actions of others, disappointed in my ability to process things and act with courage. I was not considering the present tense very much of a gift. 

These last 10 months back in the States have been a constant struggle of receiving the gift of the present tense with joy while longing and planning for the future. Isn’t that a constant struggle in life though? Contentment. Learning to love where you are at while pushing to get where you are going. If there was no hope for the future then where would we find the joy in the present? I can’t’ sit here and write about finding this perfect balance. I am still in a daily struggle to love the place I am right now. I could sit and list 186 things that I am excited about for the future and it would take me quite some time to list maybe 13 that I am excited about right now. It seems like it is a daily trudge through some muddy water that keeps getting a little deeper and deeper the longer you stand in it. 

But the longer that I have been walking through this swamp the more I have realized that joy has to be chosen. The gift of the present tense has to be accepted. It’s being held out and offered, but we have to make the effort to reach out and take it. Moments of daily gratitude have encouraged my spirit and helped me see the beauty in the every day. Building relationships with those around me and investing in their present tense has taught me to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. Supporting others who are walking through their own swamp has taught me to mourn with those who are mourning and share with them in their fight for joy. 

Uganda gave me a crash course lesson in community. It taught me what it was to share and love and walk with others. This has been my greatest remedy to this funk of waiting for the future. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with making plans for tomorrow or being exciting about what is to come, but as soon as we begin to live in that more than we live in the gift of today we risk becoming discontent and not loving what we have been given. Fight for the present and walk it with those who are in the fight with you, because there “ain’t no gift like the present tense.” 

The Weight of a Visa

The weight of a visa
 
 
On May 13th Paul and I found out that he had an interview appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Uganda on June 16th to receive a visa for him to come to America and visit. After not seeing each other for 8 months you can imagine our excitement. We were thrilled that we were going to be able to see each other again. A few days later I checked the website again to see if there were any cancellations and there was one for May 28th so you better believe we jumped on that! The earlier the better, right?
 
Well, May 28th has come and gone and there is still no news on when Paul will be able to come to America and when we will be able to see each other again. There are so many things about the visa process that I don’t understand and there are so many things that don’t have any rhyme or reason to them, it’s all based on situational cases and politics. I’m not here to talk about that. I’m not here to rant about government. I’m thankful for government. I’m thankful for rules and guidelines and screenings and what not. Border control is not my soap box.
 
When I received the call from him at 6:10am Thursday morning telling me that he was denied the visa, emotions ran over my body that were so foreign and unwelcome. Paul and I could only quickly talk as he was boarding a public taxi and I wouldn’t be able to hear him, so the hour I was waiting for him to call me back, was filled with tears and hurt and “why”.
 
I have experienced relationship woes. Break-ups suck. But this, no, this is worse than any kind of break-up. When you are forced to be apart and you have no indication to when it will be over and you get your hopes up for things and they don’t happen, that ache is worse than any kind of ended relationship that I have ever experienced. This is an ache for someone that you very much love. Someone who you would love to be with, and just can’t at this time.
 
And I’m not going to sugar coat things and say that I am looking through the rain to see the rainbow or however that Dolly Parton quote goes (love her). There is a lot of rain, and I’m kind of just sitting in it, soaking in it. I wanted to flesh this all out for my mental sake. I wrote this out and didn’t know if I would post it, but I felt like I should because there are going to be a lot of questions. I have been pretty open about our process because I love sharing life with people and I love having others walk along in this journey with us, but it’s hard when the bad things happen. It’s hard to tell the same sad story over and over again. It’s hard to not have answers to questions that just make the tears come to your eyes again. 
 
I haven’t posted on this blog in a while because I have been pretty busy with some other things, some exciting things, and I have honestly not had much to say or write about. I realized that I wasn’t loving writing about recipes and Friday Favorites. I mean, maybe every once in a while. But really what I wanted this blog to be is a outlet for my experiences, an encouragement for others who might be going through something somewhat related, or just for entertainment purposes because you can’t find anything else on the web to read about. Thanks 😉 
 
So, at this point we are working on Plan B. We are working on trying to think through what is next. It’s confusing and as you can imagine there are a lot of details when you are living 8,000 miles apart, especially when your future is being decided by a little stamp in a passport from a government that doesn’t even really know your name or have any stock or concern in your situation.
 
Paul is a hard worker and he is loving and he is patient, and for that I am thankful. I know that I can trust him through this process to do what is right and level-headed, which is a dream considering where my mind goes in the wake of bad news (I tend to have a pretty heavy trigger finger) Now, does that mean that I’m smiling and I’m happy and I’m super excited about the added months apart? No. Does that mean that I am always the easiest and sweetest girlfriend ever? NO. I’m terrible sometimes. Really terrible. It’s moments like this that I see how much I need to grow and improve. But it does mean that we are growing in our trust and dedication to each other.
 
It’s hard sometimes for some people to relate and I get it. I understand that our relationship is a little unconventional and I have tried to make this as normal and un-dramatic (is that a word?) as possible. But sometimes you can’t normalize something, it just has to be what it is. I’m so super thankful for everyone that is walking with us in this and those who are just following along for support. We are not martyrs. We are not the only people in the world who have had to deal with uncertainty and frustration. I am tasting now what it means for so many people and couples and families who are dealing with the unknowns in life and I can only pray that I will find the strength and hope that they have displayed. But I’m not quite there yet. And I’m ok with being honest about that.
 
I haven’t really come to terms or felt a certain level of peace with the roadblocks that seem to keep popping up, or the plans that keep changing. I want to believe that this is only here to increase our faith or teach us some kind of lesson, but all that seems a little far off right now. I want to use these blog posts to give updates and share any hope that we are able to experience, and maybe encourage someone else who is struggling with different obstacles. Loneliness doesn’t have the theme of this song, and I am choosing to fight that feeling. 
 
This visa weighs heavy on our hearts, minds, and plans right now. Some days it feels like we are having to pull a MAC truck around everywhere, but thankfully we both know that our future and identity as a couple and as individuals isn’t wrapped up in this stamp placed on a passport. It isn’t wrapped up in this stack of papers that could rival a dissertation. It’s so much more than that and comes from a very different place. The perspective that is given when you can take a step back from a situation is clarifying and rejuvenating. So here we are, ready to finish this marathon. 
 
If you are new to our story you can find out how it all started in my post on our One Year Anniversary 

Spending the Year Together While Being Apart

Spending The Year Together While Being Apart

It was a year ago today that I had a conversation that kind of changed things a bit. And by a bit I mean a lot. There was this guy, he was pretty stinkin’ cute and we had been pretty creative of finding ways to hang out for about a month. I was living in Uganda and he and I were working at the same organization together. Part of our jobs revolved around staffing conferences in the different regions of the country. At the end of January we worked a conference together in Mbarara, Uganda, and had quite the time. We were basically stuck on registration for 6 hours and unbelievably never ran out of anything to talk about. 

After coming home from the conference we would find ways to hang out and talk to each other more. I was deciphering his quiet personality and he was trying to wrap his brain around mine. We couldn’t be more different. My sweet Paul is kind and gentle, humble in spirit, unceasingly logical, and enduringly content. He values loyalty and family, and is willing to sacrifice anything to serve others; while I am free spirited, bold, constantly searching for some new adventure, and always day dreaming about plans that will most likely never come to pass. Life together has been a continuing compromise.

On this day, 365 days ago, I had no idea how much I would come to love this man. You see, Paul is Ugandan and I am American. I had no idea how long I was going to be in Uganda and Paul had no plans or desire to come to America, and neither of us wanted a long distance relationship. But, we were willing to “see where it goes”. It has really gone to some great places.

The months following before I moved back to America were so fun, but really difficult. He went back to school and we weren’t able to see each other much. But we kept in contact and continued to get to know one another in the best ways that we could. Before I moved back to America we spent time together and said our see you laters with anxiousness and uncertainty. That late, chilly night at the airport was not a fun one.

But, God has been so so gracious to us these last 6 months. We have grown closer and our love for each other has only increased. Paul is such a wonderful part of my life. Our relationship right now is not easy, typical, or convenient, but it is something I would never give away. We are in the process of applying for a visa for him to move to America and finish his school from here. I am giddy with excitement when I think about living in the same country again. I am already making a list of things that we will do together and places I can introduce to him. I am learning so much about patience during this time, knowing that good things come to those who wait….and trust.

I would never wish living so far from your love on anyone, but I am also so so thankful for the time that we have had to grow and learn more about each other. When all you are able to do is talk, you get to explore so many topics with each other. I don’t want to brag, but our communication skills are really becoming top notch. Sometimes I laugh and think about what it’s going to be like for us to work through conflict face to face, we might just have to go to separate rooms and call each other…

There are going to be a lot of changes in the next few months and I hope that the updates can encourage you where you are at in life. I don’t know many people who are in the same situation as Paul and I, but I do know that the lessons he and I are learning can translate into many different situations. Please continue to follow along and pray with us as he transitions here for the time being. Like I said in an earlier post, we are just now getting to the good part.

[UPDATE: We have received our visa approval letter and I am packing my bags for Uganda. Follow up in this post.]




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Spending a Year Together While Being Apart