wanderingwithmary wanderingwithmary

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Mary McLeod  Vulnerably telling stories by way of camera and words all for God's glory 🙌🏻 // Oils + Wellness 🌿👇🏻// 👩🏻🧔🏻👧🏿👼🏻👶🏻 Uganda, Africa 📍

Everything I could have ever dreamed of and more.

Late night scrolling back through my Insta journal and found these words that I prayed at this very place. This was a much needed reminder for this season of life...maybe you need to hear these words too?
A prayer for faith:
Lord, may it be whatever you want it to be. I will do my best to recognize my desires while honoring your plans. Trusting that your plans are always perfectly designed for my heart. I am grateful for whatever you have laid out before me. I love You. Amen.
You see, I was praying for her. I was wanting her. I was longing for her. It was my 29th birthday and we had just lost #ourangelskye and my desires stood strong for another baby. For her. 👶🏻
Now, my prayers are for a court date to come soon and for all to go smoothly. For a thorough and positive investigation with the US Embassy. For last minute plane tickets bought, passports stamped with visas and to see our sweet 6 year old (mayyyyybe 7 year old by then) board a plane for the first time! I can’t wait for her to see the inside and how many people will be flying in the air with her. She will freak out when she sees she has her own seat with a television where she can watch movies for hours upon hours...she will be in heaven! And the snacks and juice all flight long...it’s hard to dream beyond the plane ride because I know it will make her so happy! But I also know seeing so much of the world will make her ecstatic, especially the happiest place on earth. 🙏🏻👧🏿

This past weekend, @ifgathering was hosted here in Jinja. I prayed for God to reveal just one thing to my heart. I have felt it numbing up over the last week or so...waiting does that to me for some reason. But I’ll tell you what...I felt way more than one thing. I felt more than I have in a long time! The waterworks were overflowing and my heart was bursting with joy. A lot of goodness was said but one of the things I took from it was the prompt to declare two people you felt in your heart you needed to disciple this year. The answer for me was so easy...the girls in this picture. I have felt this whole past year to sit still and lean in towards my family. You might be thinking...”wait, do you not do that already?”. The thing is, I have always been really good at putting friends and even strangers first before anything. I have overextended myself and in some really unhealthy Type 2 moments, said yes to things just to feel loved in return. Family is a newer concept to me. Two years ago I became a first time mother to a pretty independent four year old. Continuing to pour into friends happened naturally as I learned how to juggle this new season of family. The thing is, I was pouring out of an empty cup and I wasn’t focusing on the people right in front of me. Co-dependent relationships were developed and my self worth was found in being the person my people needed and called first. It became pretty evident early this year that I needed to reevaluate my priorities and the people who needed me the most were under my same roof. It’s been an uncomfortable season to navigate as I have 28 years operating differently but I can already tell that things are balancing out in a more healthy way. My girls can depend on me. They know they can run to me. I’m at every bath time and can keep an evening routine longer than 1 day every other week. Our bond is growing stronger and grace is being extended in so many different ways. They know I am here for them...to help guide them through the trials of life as well as celebrating the wins. Frankly, to know they are here for me too unconditionally feels like a gift straight from heaven. This is something I have always prayed for 🙌🏻

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let her shine.

To the mama waiting: hold onto hope sweet friend. God knows the desires of your heart and in the most perfect of ways and in the most perfect time, God will bring them to life.
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To the mama grieving: I am so sorry friend. The loss of a child is truly the hardest thing anyone could ever go through. Please know that God is so close to you. Tears are streaming down His face and His heart is hurting too. Your sweet angel is so close and so loved and so happy and waiting to spend eternity with you. 🌻 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
To the mama helping make another woman a mama: you are selfless. You are strong. You are a warrior. I know this is the hardest decision you will ever make but to follow your heart to hand over the life you have grown for the last 9 months to your babies forever mama is a strength not many will ever understand. 🌻 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
To the mama who feels inadequate: don’t worry, you are not alone. You might be thinking you should have read more books or even gone to some parenting classes before growing your family but I am here to tell you, you are doing just fine. NO...you are doing AMAZING! Showing up for your child everyday is enough. Listening is enough. Saying sorry is enough. Loving is enough. Even though you might not be wearing a cape, you are a superhero in my book.
I will always remember Mother’s Day of 2015 waking up 8,000 miles away from my daughter with my heart yearning and broken. I will always remember Mother’s Day of 2016 grieving the loss of #ourangelskye and so badly wishing I could feel his kicks inside me that day. 2017 brought joy with the addition of 👶🏻 but I would be lying if I felt like I had it all together and wasn’t experiencing some “less than capable of motherhood” moments. I fight between the balance of not knowing my birth mom and having a strained relationship with the one who raised me on a daily basis but most of all, on this very day every year. 🌻 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
This is a bittersweet day for so many. While we celebrate this beautiful gift we have been given, let’s come together as women and love one another sensitively and vulnerably not only today but everyday. Mother’s of every kind, you are loved.

Four years ago when we had no idea what we were in for. 🤞🏻🕊
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If I’ve learned one thing about marriage is it ebbs and flows. It is not constant which is funny because that’s all I thought marriage was supposed to be for so long. You make a forever promise to another human so why wouldn’t it be? Well, because we are humans living life and it’s hard. And it changes. And we change along with it and sometimes even against it. We get lost and have to find our way back again. We search our soul until we feel found. So when it comes to committing to life with another person in the midst of just being human...it comes down to choice. Choosing one another. Every. Single. Day. Once is not enough let me tell you that. I mean it’s a great foundation to work off of but the actual act of showing up and loving even when you both are confused, lost and broken individuals...that’s where the magic happens. That’s when you see vows in action. That’s where “I do” is daily put to test. And some days...you might not have it in you to say those two words to one another and that’s where the grace of God is enough to sustain you. It’s enough to know that it’s not just “the two of you” but three. My wedding band is a braid of three cords because He is in the middle of it all. JP has three notches in his band to remind him who is at the center of this union. And even when we fail, and dangit...we do allllllll the stinking time...He is still holding us together. And choice will look differently. It will look like cleaning up the spilled guacamole on the floor, looking at dream kitchens on Instagram, or watching a show even though you are half asleep. It’s choosing to lean in when you don’t want to. It’s choosing one another over yourself.

Fourteen months with this sweet girl on the outside of my womb. Oh the feist that exists in her soul is absolutely incredible. There are so many moments I want her to be calm and still and not as emotional in her choices...and then I snap back into reality and out of my own selfishness. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I want my girls to be exactly who they are! I never want to suppress any part of them...I want them to fully thrive and live authentically to who God created them to be. I want that for them. I want that for my husband. I want that for my friends. I want that for strangers. I want that for me. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The most amazing part is we have permission to be ourselves! Do you know that?! You have not only permission but a beautiful invitation to be who God created you to be. Those desires were placed in our heart by our creator and it’s up to us to nurture, cultivate and pursue them in this gift of life! How will we know if we are pursuing them? Oh trust me, we will know. Every part of our being will tell us. They might be scary as heck but they are so worth running after! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Please don’t quiet yourself. Don’t look at those around you, especially on this crazy platform of social media and think that you need to be like ‘that’ person. Maybe you are following someone and think you could never be them? Well friend, that’s the truth. You will never be them. YOU HAVE TO BE YOU! If you aren’t you, whose going to be?
If you are inspired by people around you, that’s great! Use it! God connects His children for a reason and yes, He even uses Instagram. But please don’t feel like you can’t be you because other people are being themselves...this should only inspire and be more encouraging to pursue the life that only you can live.

We are in a waiting season and to be honest with you...those are my least favorite kinda seasons. I can rejoice for others in their seasons of wait because it’s only a split second difference from when it all changes. The wait never lasts forever. I can see in other other peoples stories that God is on the move even when it feels like it’s come to a dead stop. It is in the waiting that I can assure others that God is shaping your character for the change that is soon coming. If you are in a season of waiting...I’m going to tell you everything you need to know. God is on the move. He is with you. He has not abandoned you. It’s in His perfect timing that He will reveal His plans. I tell you this in hopes that I will hear my own words...words I can call truth based on previous experiences in my own life. Words I too need to hold onto in this season of stillness. Hope that is very much alive in every second of the day no matter His timing...and perfect timing that is. #adoptionrocks

The most amazing dad award goes to 👉🏻@jpmcleod
So thankful for this acts of service, hands on, patient as can be human that I get to do this parenting thing with. 🤟🏻

My weekends used to consist of photographing weddings. One, sometimes two, events a weekend filled with hundreds of people and 8-10 hours on my feet. I would leave with thousands of images that would need to be culled and edited to deliver to a sweet couple that was just beginning this new chapter of their story. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
My last wedding before we moved to Uganda, I sat there looking out at the dance floor (which JP happened to be DJing) and felt peace in my heart that my weekends were about to be filled with a joy I had never experienced. Not knowing if I would ever photograph another wedding was scary as it was 8 years of pouring myself into my work. 8 years full of documenting people saying yes to a future that held no guarantee but only hope for everlasting love. Some might call that a risk but a risk worth living for. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Becoming a mother for the first time to a four year old who already lived so much life before I even showed up was a risk. Saying yes to continuing to try to grow our family biologically even though I had suffered a traumatic miscarriage was a risk. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Life is worth taking risks my friends and yes, it can be so very scary but I promise you the joy and everlasting love overpowers it all.

A friend recently told me to write down all the movements of God in my story both big and small. She shared with me that when I write them down, I am remembering all that He has done in my life, all that He is doing and all that He will do. Because that is the thing about God, because He answers our prayers in such a radical way once doesn’t mean that was our one shot. There is no 15 minutes of fame to God...He has all the time in the world for us and we are always in the spotlight in His eyes. I couldn’t help but remember the times when I was riding my beach cruiser down the PCH in Santa Monica, newly divorced and broken hearted yet hopeful enough to pray for my beloved. I remembered when I was holding sweet Juliana in my arms and praying for her healing to be complete one day so she could be happy and free of pain. I remembered when I was 16 years old and the thoughts in my mind were too dark to say out loud to anyone but I begged for help to Something bigger than myself. I remember when my friend rushed over to my home and prayed over my womb that God would reveal His plans and moments later I began to miscarry. I remember praying that we would have our adoption agency fees covered for by the end 2017 and down to the last few days of the year, the sweetest couple blessed our family in such big ways. I remember praying for literal miracles of redemption in my marriage and here I am living in that answered prayer. I remember all of these prayers. Ones filled with longing. Ones filled with hope. Ones filled with confidence. And some to be honest, filled with doubt. Doubt that I was asking too much for God just to be reminded that there is not too much for God. And He isn’t going to show up just once in your life like a get out of jail free card. He is here always and forever. Able and willing because His love truly never fails. And He will show us that time and time again. If you are like me and you forget His faithfulness for a second, look back and reflect and sit quietly trusting that He is on the move, it’s just a matter of time.

Once when I was 18 years old, my boyfriend at the time decided to break up with me. He told me his reason was “I can see myself marrying you but you don’t know Jesus.” I proceeded to tell him “I’m not closed minded...tell me about Him.” He invited me to church where he was in the worship band.
I sat there in the crowd slightly swaying to the foreign music that everyone else knew the words to. I bowed my head and closed my eyes. I was ready to be shown Jesus.
The music stopped, I shook hands with nearby strangers and we all sat down. The band stayed on stage and the worship leader began praying for the message. He asked if anyone in the audience had sinned recently to raise their hand. Being the honest person I am, up went my arm.
Now, I grew up catholic and went through my communion classes so I knew what sinning meant and I was a broken 18 year old girl living away from home dating a cute guy in a worship band that I met off Myspace. Of course I had sinned. If I was going to meet Jesus, I at least wanted to meet Him honestly because I knew enough about Him that if He was who He and everyone says He is...He already knew what happened that Saturday night. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I sat there with my arm up but my eyes were closed as I hoped everyone else’s were in that moment. It was just me and God right? But I did what everyone else was doing...I peeked. And I was the only one in a crowd of at least 250 with their hand up. I guess I was in the midst of saints and I guess my boyfriend who was bright red looking at the girl he was about to break up with was a saint as well. 🤷🏻‍♀️
I did not meet Jesus that day but thankfully I got little glimpses of Him in other ways. Through a friend was obsessed with her bible. In the flowers I couldn’t stop taking pictures of and the Florida waves that called my name. His goodness danced in the resilient palm trees. I could see Him. I could feel Him. These moments and angels sustained me for the next 5 years before I said “Yes!!” to Him with everything in my heart and soul. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
continued in comments 👇🏻

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