on becoming a Mom

tomorrow will be my first Mothers’ Day as a Mom…
I’m excited to celebrate it because
becoming a mother is the single most challenging and rewarding experience I have ever had!

I was never that girl or woman who just wanted to have babies
it was actually through a logical reasoning process that I came to settle on the possibility of bearing children
if I were to marry a man who wanted children and
if I loved the man I married
then I’d be willing to bear his children – something he couldn’t do without me

good thing I’d come to that conclusion before marriage because just about as soon as we were married, we were pregnant

while carrying my unborn son was an introduction to motherhood, it was nothing compared to the last three months of my life

during pregnancy, I was introduced to sleepless nights
before my son was born I began learning how to share my body with another individual dependent on me for nourishing
in more of a conceptual way, my personal choices literally impacted the life of my unborn baby

but I didn’t really know sleepless nights until he was actually born and my sleep is always light because I’m listening for him…
although he is no longer contained within my body, he relies on me to provide his food from my own body – it’s a profound phenomenon!
and how I spend every minute of my life impacts the life of my precious little one who didn’t ask to be born into this imperfect world.

before leaving for Zim the day my son turned 12weeks old, my Mom asked me what the most challenging thing about motherhood was so far

it wasn’t the long days and nights that came to mind
nor the physical discomforts that have attended the experience though

rather, the first thing that came to mind was that
the most challenging thing about motherhood is
not being able to keep him always happy

sometimes he would just cry and I couldn’t figure out what he wanted/needed
if I only knew what to do to help him find contentment, I’d do it in a heartbeat!

but there are times when I know what he needs/wants but there’s no easy way to get it and I must simply support him as he works through his own challenges
at those times, I feel helpless…
in those moments, if there was anything, anything at all, I could do to help him, I would
that’s what I’ve found most challenging thus far – the realization of my insufficiency to meet every one of my child’s needs

oh, but what a comfort it is to know One who cares more deeply about my son’s needs than I ever could
what a solace that He who knows no failure can help my baby when I am helpless
and it is a  great source of relief to talk to God about every little detail of my baby’s life

I can talk to God about poopy diapers
about disrupted naps
about distracted nursing baby
and gassy little one

does He care?
oh yes, He cares!
I know He cares!

and it’s knowing that Jesus cares that makes becoming a mother a more bearable blessing!
I thank God for the unique opportunity to experience such an awesome miracle

2 months in

Our son turns 2 months old tomorrow! We praise the Lord for keeping him happy and healthy. We are so blessed!

Becoming a parent has been an experience quite unlike anything else I’ve experienced thus far. I really can’t even think of what I could liken it to. Our son’s only been in the world for 2 months but I can’t imagine life without him – it’s like him being here is just RIGHT!

He has smiles to melt your heart! But he’s camera-shy (seriously) so we can’t share the heart-warming smile with you.
And he’s already quite the goofball. haha. I really like his personality! Which is crazy to see what a unique individual he is even though he was incubated in my belly!

As for lessons I’ve learned so far…:

1. Every child is different: There is no rigid formula for how to raise your child because every child is different. I spent a lot of time stressing over how many hours our son was not sleeping during the day…or how many times he should want to nurse…But every child is different! The average number of hours that a newborn sleeps is just that – an AVERAGE – based on parents’ reporting on how many hours their newborns sleep. And the goal for how many times your baby nurses is to ensure that your child is well fed and hydrated – not to force feed your child! Seems so obvious now that I reached that conclusion, but it took a lot of stress and shaking off apparent expectations to realize that all I’m striving for is a happy, healthy, holy child!

2. Take the time to look at your baby because your child looks different everyday. And if he looks different everyday, that means his changing each moment. I worried for a while about spoiling our son by giving him too much attention and affection. Maybe I’d hold him too much, hug him too often, gaze lovingly at him too intently…But then I thought, if today were the only day I got to spend with my son, how would I want to spend it? I’d want him to know that I love him and that God loves him!

3. It’s not about getting him to fit into my world – the fact that he is here now has created a whole new world that we must both learn to navigate. He cannot sleep through the night yet and needs to nurse every few hours…that means my schedule must adjust. I cannot rock him to sleep for each nap so he’s got to adjust.

He’s Here!

The very next day, he arrived! That is, our son, Leonardo Ittai Hlatywayo Daco, was born on February 1st. He’s 4 weeks old today at 7.02pm.
Maybe it’s because I carried him in my womb for roughly 40 weeks before he entered the world, but I feel like he’s always been a part of my life 🙂

God has been so very gracious to our family! We’ve had our fair share of baby woes…I’ve made many mistakes already (oy)…but he’s a healthy little boy – precisely what we prayed for.

They say the first month-6weeks is the hardest time of adjusting; so I’m thanking God for seeing us through this first part of our journey! And praying that He will guide us as we introduce our son to this sinful world and his loving Savior!


This has been the LONGEST year of my life! Before this year, I’d have said that the wait from age 7 to age 10 took the longest.

It was around the age of 7 that I made a decision for baptism but was informed that I was too young to follow through with my decision. In retrospect, I think the elders were right to hold off on allowing me to be baptized. It allowed time for the decision to be solidified, tested my commitment, and provided an opportunity to get grounded in the teachings of the Bible.

The other thing I began waiting for at age 7 was to become a Pathfinder. They started a club at my church and you had to be 10yrs old to join it. My 11yr old brother joined and they made an exception for my 9yr old sister to get in a year early. But, in spite of my beggings and pleadings, they could not let me in 3yrs early (although I thought myself mature enough).

Finally, when I was 10, I joined the Pathfinder club and was cleared for baptism! Those three years took f.o.r.e.v.e.r. because I was waiting on the fulfillment of some significant life events.

But this year has been, by far, the longest year of my life. Probably because it has been filled with multiple significant life events.

Getting married in May, for one, was a big deal. Funny thing is, at the time, it didn’t seem that huge of a deal – it just felt right. And moving into the same living quarters with my husband also felt like the natural progression of our friendship. Looking back at our May wedding pictures, though, I realize how inexpressibly happy I was at that time. May 10, 2015 was probably the best day of this year for me.

A month or so after our May wedding, my husband and I learnt that we would be welcoming a new member into our newly established family! It was a happy surprise! And fraught, since then, with oh so many emotions. It’s waiting for this baby to arrive that has slowed time down the most for me this year.

No-one ever told me that being pregnant takes a LONG time! Everyday is long and the nights are even longer (with all the trips to the bathroom). It takes forever to get from one week to the next, let alone from one trimester to the next – Firstly because of the nausea, then the fatigue, then the heaviness of carrying extra weight and the discomfort of any postural position…be it sitting, or lying down.

We’re down to 6 weeks before our due date. I am so glad to be counting down weeks in the single digits now! Yes, I’m excited to meet our son! But I’m also excited to have my body back. And to have my brain back – it currently feels like mush (something else I wasn’t forewarned about).

ps: everyone’s experience of pregnancy, I’ve been educated, is different. Even each successive pregnancy differs for each Mom. So if God should so bless us with another child in the future, maybe it’ll fly by next time!

So with my mushy brain, I had the privilege of addressing the General Conference in session for one of the morning devotions. Being in my first trimester and feeling nauseated and exhausted, all I remember about the experience was much prayer and gratitude to God for sustaining me through the experience! The fact that a snippet from my sermon that day was used in a Young Turks video about Ben Carson later in the year just underscores God’s work in spite of ourselves.

After our second wedding in Zimbabwe (which was another undertaking altogether), Arch and I moved all our stuff to Lansing where I started a new job with an old employer. The weight of starting at a new job was mitigated by the fact that I was working with some old friends and that some of my responsibilities were familiar.

Arch and I also started searching for a house to call home. It only took us a month to find the place. With pre-approval letter in hand, we moved forward with the mortgage process only to be declined one week before our closing date. Thankfully, the sellers were willing to wait while we started the whole process again with another lender. <sigh> I’ll write about that whole experience another time – it was terribly trying!

With only two days to the end of the year, we were finally able to close on our new home! And end the housing saga. Thank God!

So in summary:

This year I got married, got pregnant, spoke at the international gathering of the world church, started a new job and bought a house. Those are the major points.

It’s been a long year, filled with very high points and very trying moments. And I’m so thankful for God’s constant guidance through it all. He is so faithful!

As soon as the baby arrives, I’m pretty sure everything will speed up again. Remains to be seen. For now, I wish you all a happy new year filled with the presence of God at every step.

thoughts on the Syrian refugee crisis

It has taken me over a week and a half to synthesize why the backlash towards Syrian refugees (in withholding them asylum on the grounds of the Paris attacks) bugs me so much. Even now I’m not sure I’ll manage to clearly and concisely summarize my thoughts, but I’m ready now to take a shot at it:

1. Oversimplification/Stereotyping

As a means of simplifying otherwise unmanageably complex social relations, stereotypes, are useful. They help us organize things neatly into boxes so that we can find some space to navigate our human interactions. But stereotyping comes with the connotations of OVERsimplification…a carelessness in deciding who to place in what box or a decision to use too few boxes (That’s the error I’ve heard repeated when people would qualitatively equate ascribing to Islam with voluntary involvement in the fascism of Nazi Germany). Not every Muslim is a terrorist – just like not every terrorist is a Muslim (frustrating to have to state the obvious…!).

2. What happened to loving your enemies?

Even if every Muslim were to be typecast as the enemy, how could a Christian refuse to help an enemy in need and still claim to be a follower of Christ? Is Jesus not the One who said to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…”? And that parable of the good Samaritan…?!

No, it seems to me that mistreating those who mistreat you is inconsistent with Christianity. Paul puts it this way, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.’ Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:19-21

3. In Whom do you Trust?

Our fear is that if we treat others with kindness, especially those who we perceive to have wounded us, our kindness will be mistaken for weakness. And we don’t want to look weak! We want to project strength to ensure that we are never mistreated again. It’s all about protecting ourselves, you see.

But, I ask the Christian, what happened to “God is my refuge and strength”? What happened to “My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth…The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand…The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.” Ps 121.

Rather than trusting our safety to God completely, the fearful brand of so-called-Christianity subscribes to the unbiblical “God helps those who help themselves” platitude. It would be more truthful to say that God helps those who trust in Him! The Christian does not have to worry about protecting themselves because God’s already got that covered. All that remains is to remain faithful to Him.

4. Religious Liberty

My understanding of American history is that religious liberty has long been a value this nation upholds. But the Seventh-day Adventist Church does not advocate religious liberty because it is a denomination that was birthed in the USA. Rather, this legacy is ours from God’s own example.

He could have created human beings without the power to choose to obey or disobey but Genesis 3 corroborates the reality of human freedom of choice. Moreover, the cross of Calvary demonstrates the lengths to which God is willing to go to protect humanity’s freedom to choose. At cost to Himself, God safeguards the individual’s liberty to choose their religion (knowing that many will not choose Him!).

In step with God’s own example, Christ’s followers are committed to preserving the freedom of every human being to choose who/when/how they worship…even when those choices aren’t in line with my own choices. Yes, as a Christian, I must do all I can to preserve every individual’s freedom to decide their own religion; be it Islam, Buddhism or Pastafarianism (yeah, the satirical religion that worships the flying spaghetti monster).

These are probably my top 4 reasons why the anti-refugee comments have bugged me. Each of which I could write an entire separate blog post about…But I’m tired and it’s way past my bedtime so this’ll have to do for now.

Oh to have more Christians who are more like Christ!


no charge

Perhaps it’s because I live in the northern part of the US, but, it’s a little embarrassing to admit that I listened to country music growing up. No-one around here grew up on country, especially not the old school stuff like Don Williams…and would you believe I was disappointed with Whitney Houston’s rendition of “I will always love you,” because I thought the Dolly Parton original was way better?! haha.

Anyways, there’s one song from my country-listening days that’s resurfaced in my thoughts lately. It’s probably because I’ve been thinking about parenting quite a bit lately (and have been gaining a tremendous respect for my Mom in the process!). Most profoundly, I have been considering God’s parenting…and how He loves us! Oh, how He loves us!

In true country style, the song explains itself:

No Charge

My little girl came up to me in the kitchen this evenin’ while I was fixin’ supper
And she handed me a piece of paper that she’d been writin’ on
And after wipin’ my hands on my apron I read it
And this is what it said:

“For mowing the yard – $5
For makin’ my own bed this week – $1
For going to the store – 50c
For playin’ with little sister while you went to the store – 25c
For taking out the trash – $1
For getting a good report card – $5
And for raking the yard – $2
Total owed = $14.75”

Well, I looked at her, standing there expectantly
And a thousand memories flashed through my mind
So I picked up the pen and turning the paper over
This is what I wrote:

“For the nine months I carried you, growing inside me – no charge
For the nights I sat up with you, doctored you, prayed for you – no charge
For the toys, food and clothes, and for wiping your nose – there’s no charge
When you add it all up the full cost of my love is no charge”

Well, when she finished reading she had great big ol’ tears in her eyes
And she looked up at me and said,
“Mommy, I sure do love you!”
Then she took the pen and in great big letters she wrote:
“Paid In Full”

When you add it all up the cost of real love is no charge!

by Tammy Wynette

when miracles grow common

I grew up with the stories of the exodus and God’s miraculous provision for His people on their travels from Egypt to Canaan. And it always baffled me how anyone could ever complain about receiving bread from heaven everyday! Surely if my Mom were serving bread from heaven everyday I wouldn’t complain – I thought.

Instead, maize seemed to show up at just about every meal. Mealie-meal porridge for breakfast and sometimes lunch. Sadza for supper and sometimes lunch. While I crave sadza these days, growing up, it was hardly bread from heaven to my taste buds.

But those Israelites…! The food on your table is so clearly a miracle yet you’d still complain?! It’s one thing to prefer a different genre of food over what is offered you. But when you had nothing, and someOne gives you heaven’s cuisine, you at least eat with gratitude, if not enjoyment, right.

The first time my husband and I heard our baby’s heartbeat was such a moving experience. All the nausea, fatigue, and vertigo were truly signs that there was a human being developing inside me! It gave meaning to the madness, you know.

Then, later that day, for the first time, I discerned the baby’s movements. Apparently, the baby had already been moving but never having experienced the alien activity of another human being inside of me, I simply relegated the sensations to bowel movements of the flatulent classification. Yet somehow, that night, I was able to distinguish the baby move.

It was astounding. Both my husband and I were moved to tears at the thought that God would entrust the care of His child to us. That was a very emotional day for us.

Not long hence, more often than is appreciated, I’m awake at 3 in the morning. Tired. But wide awake. And the miraculous fetal movements have grown in intensity. Why the baby prefers to practice gymnastics in the wee hours of the morning, I do not know. And were it not for the anticipation of a full day of work ahead, I’d be less inclined to complain about the timing…

Complain! Complain about a miracle? An ongoing miracle growing inside of me?! Maybe the problem wasn’t the manna or the sadza…Maybe the problem is with God’s people and how we come to take, for granted, the blessings He bestows upon us.

Sometimes, at first, we don’t even realize that we are the recipients of God’s gracious gifts. We fail to decipher the moving of the miracle in our lives. Then, oft-times, we forget to remember that this is a miracle to which the right response would be gratitude.

Yes, we forget to remember! Remembering is not a passive experience. In Scripture, to remember God’s blessings is given as an injunction – it is commanded!

Miracles become common when we forget to remember that they are, indeed, miracles! So today, I thank God for the miracle of the life that is growing inside of me – even if it means I’m awake at 3am most nights…!

It’s Complicated?

All throughout our courtship, we’ve joked about updating our relationship status on FaceBook to “It’s Complicated.” You see, our cultural differences made for an interesting scenario on who to tell what – when. (And now I’m debating if I should try to explain it all here…And I’m shrinking from the task! <sigh>)

Well, when Archie and I first got together, I had to ask him not to update his FaceBook profile or change his profile picture to include me in it. It was a challenging request for me to make because I didn’t want him to misunderstand my request as insinuating that I felt our relationship was something to be hidden or ashamed of. Yet I had to ask this of him in order to follow my culture’s protocol for informing my family of the development. As evidenced by the fact that we got married, Archie was very understanding and accommodating!

Our relationship, thus far, has been this continuous journey of navigating the various cultural expectations of us – Frustrating at times…Fun at other times…But always enlightening! The classic illustration of the differences we worked through is physical closeness:

During our courtship, we went to visit Archie’s Uncle and Aunt in St. Louis for a weekend and when we were leaving, they wanted to take some pictures of us, so we stood next to each other. Archie’s Uncle says, “stand closer!” so we did. But I guess we weren’t standing close enough so he repeated his request with the remonstrance that we ought to look like we like each other in the picture!

St. Louis

By contrast, when Archie came to visit my family in Zimbabwe, he was under strict instructions to make no physical contact, whatsoever, with me. Generally speaking, the men and women would sit separately during meals (I didn’t notice this until Archie pointed it out, actually). But Archie would always come and sit next to me – not super close, but it was, still, an anomaly! All through his visit, I felt like I kept pushing him away for the sake of cultural propriety.

Our first engagement was on September 26, last year. It was just the two of us, with his ukelele, at the beach at sunset. It was perfect!

beachIt had to happen then so that we could initiate the Zimbabwean engagement process which ended up happening on December 28th. Well, what happened on the 28th of December was the Lobola proceedings, which meant we were, by Zimbabwean custom, considered married, but we took it as an engagement because we wanted to be married by a Pastor. Oh, and the other engagement date was Christmas Eve with Archie’s entire family and all the wonderful bells and whistles!


If I were to pick one of the engagement dates, I’d probably pick December 24th as our primary one. It came at the most welcome time. And it was special to have Archie’s family there to witness it. While the other two dates are significant, they seemed somewhat incidental.

So we set August 16 as our wedding date – and it just happened! It was an amazing experience to have all these parts of my life converge in one day! Friends from pre-school, all through Pearson and Wellesley, and even my most recent boss was there! Since it was in Zimbabwe, my family was there, but it was extra special to have representatives of Archie’s family there too! The ceremony and reception were a mix of cultural customs and flavors – Yum.


When we got married on May 10th, earlier this year, it was also perfect in its own way. Very small, very intimate, short and sweet in our friends’ backyard.

as-64We went out to eat afterwards then drove a couple hours away for our mini-moon. It was so easy to plan and execute, stress-free and chill – and in that sense, quite dream-like. But none of our families were there – it broke our hearts. And to respect my family’s wishes, FaceBook was off limits in announcing it; so the word had to get around one person at a time.

We have potentially one more wedding to go (I mean a wedding where I’m the bride and Archie’s the groom). It’d be in California, since most of his family wasn’t able to make it out to Zim. An excuse to get the family together, you know, and celebrate! We don’t have a date on that one yet but that’d make 3 engagements and 3 weddings!

Between May 10 and August 16 for a wedding date, it’ll have to be May 10 because we took our vows that day before God and witnesses, and we signed our marriage certificate that day!

signingBut since it was less than perfect, I’m thankful we had the opportunity to celebrate our marriage with friends and family this month! It also initiated me into the world of real wedding planning i.e. working with multiple vendors and competing wishes from various sectors…If only we could have combined the chill aspect of 5/10/15 with the thrilling joy of friends and family of August 16 to make for the absolutely perfect experience.

So 3 engagements and 2 weddings later, I think I’m thoroughly married. It’s no longer complicated!

Why I Love Being a Seventh-day Adventist


My friend, Jo, started this thing…a challenge to think about what we love about being Seventh-day Adventist, and I like the idea! So here are my top 5, unsorted:

It makes you stand out: For a long time, I thought it was because I was the fourth out of five children that I longed to be recognized. Now I’m sure that was part of the reason! But I’ve also discovered in humanity, in general, a desire to be acknowledged as individuals. The peculiar lifestyle engendered in Seventh-day Adventism combined with the unique ways in which we all incorporate those peculiarities makes for very individually unique Seventh-day Adventists. I like that.

It makes you fit in: I am convinced that there is not a belief system that Seventh-day Adventists have nothing in common with! Baptism by immersion like Baptists; Dietary restrictions like the Muslims; The Sabbath like the Jews; Freedom of choice like the gay rights movement; Sanctity of life like the pro-life movement;  A powerful devil like the Satanists…Just to name a few. We can find allies across any isle without compromising the integrity of our message. I like that.

It makes sharing Jesus easy: The combination of our uniqueness with our relatability makes for natural opportunities to share about the reason we are the way we are – the reason being Jesus. To a fellow Christians, dietary restrictions may be a cause for consternation which may open the door to a practical conversation on the intersection of faith and works. Whereas the same dietary restrictions may produce a bond of camaraderie with a Muslim sister which could fuel further opportunities to share the reasons for our faith. I’ll knock on doors to find those looking for Jesus if I have to, but, truth-be-told, I’d rather not have to!

It just makes sense: While  I was raised in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, my parents made it clear that being Seventh-day Adventist was their choice and I would have to make my own choice someday. If the faith they had espoused made sense to me, they would be happy for me to stick with it. But if I found something more compelling in my search, they would support my decision to leave. Though a scary freedom at times, that permission from my parents allowed me to grapple with difficult questions from a young age: How do I even know that God exists in the first place? What if my own existence is an illusion? Would I prefer to live a happy lie or a miserable reality? Assuming very many things and God, I and others do exist in reality, why is Seventh-day Adventism the right religion? Is there only one right religion? Having grappled with these and many other questions, I am still a Seventh-day Adventist! I still practice the freedom my parents afforded me and grapple with more questions concerning my faith, but I now stand firmly as a Seventh-day Adventist.

It makes family the world over: It’s simply exhilarating to be able to connect with people from literally, all over the world, because we belong to the same faith! I have, at times, found closer relationships with Seventh-day Adventists from across the world than with fellow countrymen. Not being restricted in my associations to people of the same hue of skin or shape of eyes allows me to experience the beauty of the world, taste its diversity of foods and improve my own culturally engendered practices. No matter where I go in the world, when I meet a Seventh-day Adventist, I have met family.

Why do you love being Seventh-day Adventist?