wanderingwithmary wanderingwithmary

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Mary McLeod  Vulnerably telling stories by way of camera and words all for God's glory 🙌🏻 // 👩🏻🧔🏻👧🏿👼🏻👶🏻 Uganda, Africa 📍#debtfreejourney #adoptionrocks

I realized this past month that I already had one foot out the door, not fully appreciating the incredible blessing of this home and how it has played such a huge part in our families story. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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This is the home that we became a family of three in overnight. The bathroom where I took a pregnancy test just a few months later, crying tears of joy seeing that we would be adding another miracle to our tribe. The bedroom where I would go into labor with our 10 week old angel, miscarrying his body from mine but holding onto his love forever in my heart. The living room where my heart broke into a million pieces over and over again. The concrete floors where I got down on my knees, begging God to show me the power of true redemption. The same bathroom that I found out baby girl would be joining us 9 months later. The studio where we worked so hard to get out of debt. The table where we filled out hundreds of documents to file for our adoption. The kitchen where I once cried over my oldest spilling a bottle of breast milk that I had tiredly pumped at 3am. The front steps where we watched cows walk by and sunsets paint the sky more times than I can count. The yard where we watched our baby girl take her first steps and our oldest ride a bike for the first time. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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This home is a beautiful frame that holds hundreds of memories that have made The McLeod family who it is today and for that, it will always be my favorite.
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#homeabroad #homesweethome🏡 #adoptionishard #adoptionjourney #familyhome #motherhoodunited #uganda🇺🇬

We are in the middle and let me tell you what...it’s not always my favorite part. Who doesn’t love a good beginning where you have your eye on the prize as you begin to excitedly accelerate towards it? Endings usually symbolize mountain tops or finish lines or some voice saying “you have arrived at your destination” whether it’s a robot or the one in your heart. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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The middle though? This is the uncomfortable part but also, probably the most familiar for all of us. Maybe it’s because beginnings and endings are brief while the middles take up most of the chapters. And these chapters involve trials, waiting, fears, insecurities, falling, getting back up, struggling, wrestling & trying over and over again. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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You wanna know the best part of the middle that is absolutely vital for our souls? The middle is the only place one can train for resilient character...it doesn’t come in the beginning or end but in the messy middle where life is unfolding...where magic is happening. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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If we gave up when our marriage was at its lowest, we wouldn’t be experiencing the redemptive love story we are today. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
If we gave up dreaming of being debt free when we moved to Uganda with $65,000 looming over our heads that we knew we wouldn’t be able to touch with a ten foot pole for years, we wouldn’t be dancing on the mountain top right now.
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And if we give up hope now as we wait for our adoption story to finish being written, we are robbing ourselves of experiencing the fullness of Gods promises for our family. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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You guys, the middle is messy but it’s true what Brené says (I mean everything she says is gold amiright?) THIS is where the magic happens. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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Keep dreaming. Keep rising. Keeping holding onto hope. Keep believing it for yourself. Keep surrendering. Keep GOING! Please keep going. Please don’t give up on your ultimate joy and freedom, whatever that may be for your story. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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#debtfreejourney #adoptionjourney #adoptionrocks #debtfreelife #marriageisbeautiful #risingstrong #daveramsey #vulnerabilityisstrength

There were three lost birthdays where August 15th was just another day with no inkling of celebration. Out of the 365 days, this day is one of the most special ones...this is the day you were born. I can mourn those lost years but I choose to be grateful. Grateful that you are with us today despite the odds that you had to face at such a young age. You my love, are a warrior and so often I wish you didn’t have to be but you have persevered through the darkest of valleys to dance like a butterfly at the top of the mountain. Your story has shaped you into the light you are today and let me tell you, the joy you spread wherever you go is contagious and a gift to all. You know the facts of life, Jesus is God and God is Love and that no matter what we do, we are forgiven and so very loved by our Savior. You constantly remind me of these things which makes you the smartest seven year old I have ever met and I am just so thankful that God chose to intertwine our stories together. Happy 7th Birthday my love!!!
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⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #adoptionrocks #adoptionjourney

We said yes to weird when we said yes to one another. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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Five years ago we laid it all on the table...our massive pile of debt. Car loan, student loan and credit cards...we added it all up and the number was a scary $80,000 to be exact! How on earth would we tackle this in our lifetime? I had no idea but then JP’s dad gifted us the Financial Peace University disk set. Thanks to some long drives and Dave’s brutal honesty, we began right where he told us to, Baby Step #1...save $1000 in our emergency fund. Then we moved onto Baby Step #2 and began attacking our debt smallest to largest. To be honest, we failed a lot, rearranging the baby steps and getting into even more credit card debt along the way. Newlyweds living in Los Angeles with lofty desires to completely furnish their first home added on an additional 20k in debt. Then God called us to Uganda to adopt a four year old girl but asked us to go without credit card debt. We had no idea how this would happen but we got down on our knees and the Lord replaced shame with hope and you know what? It happened! He also promised us we would get out of debt while living in Uganda and that seemed obsurd but guess what?! Here we are, two weirdos who worked so hard to pay off the remaining $65,000 while living overseas and today on our 4 Year Anniversary, we are finally debt free! Our debt free journey ending in Uganda is symbolic to so many things. This is where our relationship began, where our family began and now where our goal of being able to work towards giving 50% of our income away in this lifetime begins. We see the incredible work people are doing in this world, we are surrounded by it daily and all we hope to do is live simply, love immensely and continue to say yes to this weird debt free life so we can give back in big ways! Thank you to my partner in crime @jpmcleod for running like a gazelle towards freedom with me and thank you @daveramsey for your simple yet effective methods that are truly life changing!!!
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#debtfreecommunity #debtfreejourney #daveramsey #financialpeace #debtfree

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fear steals my words
fear robs me of joy
fear paralyzes my dreams
fear bullies me into a corner ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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LOVE plants poems in my soul
LOVE gives and gives and gives
LOVE moves mountains to me and for me
LOVE conquers the evil one who produces fear
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LOVE NEVER FAILS ME

I sat on the bathroom floor next to the tub as she splashed about playing with her toy boats and duckies. All of a sudden I was hit with a wave of truth. Here we are a month after we were supposed to have court, still with no rescheduled date. I laid my forehead on the porcelain tub and prayed for a miracle. Just then I heard God say “look up and see what I have already done”. So I did. I looked up and saw one of my answered prayers. I saw my miracle. There was a time I literally got down on my knees every day begging for a baby. I walked circles around this town praying for God to hear the desires of my heart and for those to come to life soon. And here she was, 17 months on earth but 26 months of an answered prayer to a desire so deeply written on my heart. He was with me then when He heard those pleaded cries and He is here with me now. While I’m no longer begging, I am taking a step back to look at all He has done because they are reflections of His fulfilled promises yet to come.

It’s August which means it’s her birthday. If she had it her way it would be her birthday everyday and I struggle to find that balance of humility and wanting to celebrate her with lavish parties and desserts everyday because what a gift to this world she is and if that’s what makes her happy right? 😂 I mean I don’t but I try to make up for those 4 years she didn’t hear ‘I love you’ by saying it 167 times a day and I justify sneaking in an extra treat here and there because life is short but those 4 years were so long. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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She turns 7 in just 11 days and all I wanted for the last year was to show her a palace that would make her feel like the princess she truly is. The one at Disneyland with all her favorite princesses, endless rides and sugary treats. I just wanted her to ring in the year at the happiest place on earth, the happiest she has ever been.
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That’s what I wanted for her 7th birthday. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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What does she want? A butterfly party with mac&cheese. So I bought wings off Amazon and I’ll Pinterest some recipe that I’m sure I’ll have to substitute half the ingredients because we live in Africa. And she will be the happiest she has ever been, in her own living room with her friends fluttering all around to Taylor Swift songs.
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Our kids don’t need grand gestures to be happy, they just need consistent simple reminders of how loved they are. And I believe that is the same with God. Sure the grand gestures filled with miracles are nice (can we please have an August court date 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻) but everyday He is showing us just how much He loves us by consistently showing up with the blessings that surround us and whispering I love you a million times a day.

She claims this will be the dress she gets married in. Her favorite white dress that has the perfect spin and perfect story. Before we moved to Uganda almost three years ago, @jpmcleod and I were walking around a marketplace in Costa Mesa. My favorite thing to do during this time for my heart was to find something special for her in little children’s boutiques. A wooden camera, a stuffed bunny...or the perfect little dress. In this particular shop that I’m kicking myself for forgetting the name, we shared our story with the owner of the store. We told her all about our little girl we were about to begin the adoption process with. We showed her pictures like any proud parent and to be honest, it was just a gift to share when anyone asked. Talking about her made my heart hurt less being so far away from her for those 9 months. After hearing our story and seeing all the pictures, the sweet lady asked us to go over to the 4T section and pick out a pretty dress for our daughter as a gift from her. We were blown away and tried to protest her generosity but ultimately settled on this dress that I thought would get stained and ruined by now since white doesn’t last long in Uganda. But here we are and while it’s more of a cream off white color, it’s still her favorite dress. We always think of how God gave us so many angels in that season of waiting and this sweet shop owner happened to be one that day for our yearning hearts.
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⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 📸: @hannnahbeth #adoptionishard
#adoptionisbeautiful

We fought twice today & we made up twice today. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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I used to think fighting with your spouse meant you were just one argument away from divorce. I used to think that working things out meant not talking about them and time would just fix it all. I used to think a lot of things that were lies planted by the enemy and maybe even a little bit from society but I have lived a whole lotta life in these 31 years and learned a lot along the way. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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Here is what I know so far from marriage #2...fighting is okay. It can actually be pretty healthy too! Feeling emotions is a sign of strength and figuring out how to express them with the other human you sleep in the same bed with for goodness sake is a rocky adventure! Some days we use the tools we have learned to pick up along the way and sometimes it’s as if we abandoned everything we know to only exhaust ourselves, look one another in the eye with defeat and say “I am so sorry”. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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I used to think that fighting with your spouse meant you made a mistake a long the way but now I believe if you can learn to navigate fights with humility and surrender, they can actually be something to bring you closer. For us fighting with one another is usually a cover up of deeper untouched/unexpressed feelings...fear, sadness, stress, loneliness...rather than actual feelings towards one another. At the end of the day I can’t help but feel really lucky that not only do I have someone I can fight with but also someone that I will fight for over and over again. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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🤟🏻babe! @jpmcleod

I’m all about prayer but I’m also all about counting my blessings! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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This past month has been full of so many lows and so many highs and all I’m holding onto going into a new month are the things I’m grateful for!
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Here are just a few:
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1. My family - for being my rock and my why behind everything I do and dream of.
2. My health - being able to get out of bed daily and take action on improving my wellness
3. My Savior - for holding us so close during our lows and inviting us to dream big again.
4. My community (that includes you!) - for covering us in prayer and unconditional support. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Will you count your blessings with me?! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Go ahead and comment 3 things/people you are grateful for! Be sure to tag someone if they are on your heart!

Oh July, you have brought such bittersweet adventures. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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We counted down the days, excited to finally go to court for our daughters adoption to then find out just five days before it was cancelled unexpectedly. 👧🏿
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We then prayed for a miracle and were given a court date for what would have been just the day after only to receive a text message 24 hours before saying that too was cancelled. 👎🏻
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We hit the road 8 hours from home to getaway to the mountains and we finally crossed Kyaninga Lodge off our bucket list. Like any good vacation, we came back excited and restored and started dipping our toes into dreaming again. 🌈
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We think we figured out what our living arrangements in America could look like upon moving back but have no idea really if and when that will happen because we have yet to be rescheduled a court date. 🤷🏻‍♀️
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We said hello and goodbye to jobs and worked our debt down to only one final payment eagerly waiting for us in August. 💸
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Some of our close friends left for furlough for a couple of months and others said goodbye for who knows how long as they make America their home. 😭
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We said yes to some things that feel really scary which means we are doing the right thing. 🙌🏻
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July, I expected too much out of your 31 allotted days but to be honest, even through the lows we have pulled closer to God and are seeing only His goodness in the waiting and the unknown. He is near & He is moving & I can’t wait to see what else He is writing in our story. ❤️
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August, please continue to bring miracles. 🙏🏻

My new favorite obsession of hers is when she says “uppy!!!” for when she wants to be lifted up on the bed or in our arms. 😍

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