Nevah Wouldah Made It…

Today marks the one year anniversary of my first day at this job. It has been quite a ride!
The move from Michigan was rough. Financially. Emotionally. Socially. Rough.
But here we are, one year later, and God has seen us through!

When we filed our taxes, our tax preparer asked how we managed to survive financially!
Yeah, we had to forego the luxury of vegemeat everyday (that stuff’s bad for you anyway) and experiment with different types of dried beans…
So we couldn’t eat out and had to shop once a week with a very specific budget (and would hi-5 each other at the cash register when we came in significantly under budget because then we could afford a luxury the next week)…
We couldn’t buy any new toys for the kids and gifts became a little more practical (like suspenders instead of legos – my son loves both by the way)…
And trips out had to be better planned and strategic…

But the intentional living we were forced into was a blessing in and of itself!
Moreover, we never went without food on the table.
We never froze though our house wasn’t the tropics.
Never missed a payment on essential bills.
Managed to bring my sister from Zim to visit.
And even safely welcomed a baby into our home.
Not once did I feel poor in this past year despite the story our finances tell.

Looking back at this whirlwind of a transition year, I cannot but praise the Lord. He did it again. He brought us safely through. He sent His servants to bless us at critical moments (like our Christian neighbors who gave us rice and cooking oil just before we ran out). Without God, we never would have made it. With Him, everyday is a thrilling adventure!

Unfairly Blessed!

2017 has been jam-packed with miracles for my family so far! I can’t be exhaustive in this post but God deserves praise for all He has been doing for us so I must, at least, list some of the great things He has been doing.

Baby Incoming: We begun this year with the good news of another addition to our family! I feel so blessed to be able to bear children and so privileged to experience motherhood with more than one child. It has been a much easier pregnancy than the first and I’m so grateful for that because of the other blessings God has bestowed on us.

New Job: We’d begun the application process last year but it was also confirmed at the beginning of this year that I was switching jobs. I loved my work with public campus ministry. In fact, one of the draws of this new job was that my ministry would still be geared towards the same demographic. But now I get to explore an area of interest I’ve been developing over the years – Editing! So in February I started a new job as editorial assistant for the young adult division of the Sabbath School Department at the General Conference.

Relocating: We were apprehensive about the move for many reasons. How would we afford a house in Maryland? We didn’t want to be surrounded by the sound of traffic and sirens all the time. What would happen with our house in Michigan? Well…the condensed version is that God has and is working it all out in our favor! Hallelujah!

Childcare: Most recently, God answered another one of our prayers for help with child care when my maternity leave is over. With miraculous flair, He has provided the visa and travel costs for my sister to come and help us out!

There’s so much more I could say about the, oh, so many ways God has been unfairly kind to us! I’m so undeserving of such goodness and yet He just keeps on blessing! Praise His holy Name!

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…!