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wanderingwithmary wanderingwithmary

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Mary McLeod  Writer • NGO + Portrait Photographer //Choosing vulnerability for God's glory // YL Oils 👇🏻// Uganda, Africa 📍


This moment was 10 years in the making. We were just two girls who moved to a foreign state to pursue a passion of photography when we first met. 3 weddings. 4 pregnancies. 2 baby girls. 1 matching tattoo. Lots of random trips to catch up, celebrate, mourn and explore. Countless FaceTimes and text messages, some full of joy and others full of despair. She’s my person and this last decade has been so rich because of her.

On my way.

"l give you everything I have
I'll teach you everything I know
I promise I'll do better
I will always hold you close
But I will learn to let you go
I promise I'll do better
I will soften every edge
I'll hold the world to its best
And I'll do better
With every heartbeat I have left
I will defend your every breath
And I'll do better

Cause you are loved
You are loved more than you know
I hereby pledge all of my days
To prove it so
Though your heart is far too young to realize
The unimaginable light you hold inside" - Light by Sleeping At Last -

It was a very hard night here in the McLeod home. Baby girl went right down for sleep and I might have jinxed it when I thought it was going to be a quiet and productive night. Then our oldest came to us crying that something on her body was paining her. It ended up being a mango worm. 😭 If you have ever had one or know what they are...goodness, you know how painful they can be and this was the most pain she had ever experienced in her life. Let's just say allllllll of our emotions were tested to the extreme. It's the worst thing to see your children in pain and then to have to be the one to help them feel better but it causes even more pain in the moment is the worst! She ended up going to bed not in the best of moods and I sat on my bed decompressing from the last two hours, trying to wrap my head around it all. Then I hear her bedroom door open and she walks into our room. "I'm sorry Mommy." She wanted to make things better...she wanted us all to go to bed happy even though it was all out of her control. We are quick to say sorry in this home and goodness, do we say it A LOT! One thing we have taught our oldest is to accept others apologies. When I said that I was the one who was sorry, she quickly replied "it's okay!" and practically jumped into my arms. Let's just say I was served up another slice of humble pie. Children...they get it. Even when we doubt that they ever heard a word we said...they really get what matters most. 📷: @emwardphotos

These sweet boys are ONE YEAR old today!! I cannot believe it. Time, you beautiful tricky thing. Happy Birthday Whit + Corwin! Can't wait to celebrate your beautiful lives so soon! @iamjesstaylor + @jonathandavidtaylor you two inspire us through and through!

I have a journal where I write letters to all my children. The ones here on earth and the one in heaven. One year ago I wrote this to our baby girl...healing words for my soul even 365 days later.
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Sweet baby. Sweet, pure, innocent baby. Today I was reminded that God knows everything, even when we question Him or feel like we remotely understand. One day we will tell you what life looked like while you were in my womb at 16 weeks but for now, just know, you are a perfect gift from God.
God loves us so much that He blesses us with our deepest desires. He knows exactly what His children need at specific times. Even when you feel so alone, you are not. God knows the seasons you walk through before you even get there. He is with you every step of the way. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ God knew we needed you.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I cannot wait to hold you. Look into your eyes and just see His amazing and loving plan in flesh form.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
You are a precious gift.
You are Gods Love + Light.

The power is out which means I'm going to bed dreaming of two things: cold weather and cold showers. This Florida + California girl used to despise the cold but after two years of East Africa living, I think I could handle living in a place where seasons actually change. 🍂

"First, we will go to the airport and they will give me my passport. Then we will get on the plane and they will ask me where I want to go. I will tell them I want to go to California to see Jajja and the princesses at Disneyland. Then we will go see Auntie Mandi in New York and Auntie Bethany in Minnesota. Then we will go to China and then to see Auntie Kayla...wait, does Auntie Kayla live in China? After that I think we should go to Paris so I can practice my french...I've been reading my book a lot. Mommy, do you think I'll see clouds when I'm on the airplane? I want to see lots of clouds."

She's my proof that God always has something beautiful in the dreams that don't quite come to life like you wanted them to. For too long I considered a certain dream a failure...a project that fell a part with no explanation. Now I know, years later, saying yes wasn't a mistake. I made one of my closest friends because I said yes. Each crazy dream you have leads you to the next point in your story. To be honest, I have no idea how old Kayla is turning today. I want to say 25 but that might be wrong. Her soul is wiser beyond her years and her heart is bigger than most in their 70's. Her strength is inspiring and her faith is encouraging. She is one of the most loyal friends one could have and she loves others really, really well. Everyone needs a Kayla. Happy Birthday you beautiful soul. Thank you for always saying yes to my crazy dreams...it's an honor to do life with you.

Today my friend showed me an Instagram account that made me feel something that I haven't felt in awhile. Jealous. The couple of the account travel together alllllllll over the world. To parts I didn't even know existed. On top of traveling all over the world, they take the most epic images of them experiencing these locations. Like the jaw dropping kind. I wanted to dust off our credit card and throw all responsibility out the window to have the same exact experience. +
On top of feeling jealous, I suddenly felt like I hadn't done much in my life and barely have seen anything. I mean, how could I possibly keep up with people who travel for a living? I can't. Just like they can't keep up with the dirty diapers and middle of the night feedings I have going on in my life. They also can't keep up with the dance moves from a confident 6 year old and the morning smiles of a 6 month old.
This evening I spent a good while looking through old photos. Ones that screamed adventure. Ones that could be described as "epic". Ones that helped us check something off our bucket list and put another pin in the map.
Suddenly my jealousy lifted and my heart overflowed with gratitude.
The thing is, traveling is an action but also a state of mind. You can move while traveling or stand still. You can grow or become stuck in your ways. You can find joy or despair. You can leave those burdens at home to find they still snuck their way into your bags. You can travel on the road or in your own heart. It can require maps or prayer. Roads or dinner tables.
As much as my travel bug is not only biting my butt but also pulling my suitcase out of the closet, I'm experiencing so much life right here, right now. I am exploring the fullness of the 24 hours I am given even if somedays I don't leave my house. This life can be lived in so many different ways but it truly comes down with doing the most with what you have. Right now I have this beautiful family that deserves my time and we can't just pack our bags and go. But we can spend Sunday mornings laughing over pancakes and cuddling in bed. And that actually is epic and adventurous enough for the soul of our family right now.

We share the same love language...weekending in bed. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Also, JP cut off her rat tail today. One inch of beautiful perfection 😭 He wanted to try his hand at more but I fought him off. Why would anyone ever want to remove one lock from this beautiful head? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Mamas, when was your babies first hair cut? This all seems too soon 😫

How long do you think I can get away with taking this picture every 6 months of their lives? 20 years? 40? 😁

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