Help me do what is mine to do

“Once we can accept that God is in all situations, and that God can and will use even bad situations for good, then everything and everywhere becomes an occasion for good and an encounter with God.”

^Title and quote taken from this past week’s Richard Rohr meditation. I’ve been deeply contemplating change, transition, control, letting go, and actively seeking to embrace more trust, grace, and “que sera sera” in my life, lately.

I’ve repeatedly returned to this phrase – “help me do what is mine to do” – and find it anchors me to the present and what is set before me, whether it be a pleasant task or not. We often know in our spirits what is “ours to do”: have a hard conversation; fulfill a commitment; send someone love and encouragement; apologize; set boundaries to honor and protect ourselves; work to complete a task at our jobs; show up; make an impact.

If we only we had the courage to always do it, and do it well.

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Home

I am stuck in between two extremes
Enjoying the change and
The challenge

Wanting something constant

The rhythm is constant and my people are true
There are things I will always love about you

I love to call this home
Home here, home there
Home is everywhere

Puppies of Pader

*pronounced PUH-DAY [title derived from an inside joke that isn’t even really that funny].

I spent time this week in Northern Uganda working to implement our Akola Academy program with the women working in Pajule (Pader District). This program applies participatory rural appraisal techniques, which is fancy development jargon for basically using local voices to inform our program structure. I really appreciate working for an organization that aims to incorporate knowledge and opinions of the people who participate in our programs – you’d be surprised to learn how many don’t. Continue reading

To Be Happy

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In an effort to improve and learn, I often spend a great deal of time in self-reflection and musing about the past, especially around the turn of a new year. I thank my parents for instilling this value in me; growing up we’d always take 1/2 Jan to plan for the new year, set goals, and reflect on the past year’s ups and downs. The ability to keep the bigger picture in mind is a mark of maturity as well as a safeguard against selfishness. It creates a posture of gratitude. Oh, how I fail sometimes at seeing past my own worries and issues. Don’t we all.  Continue reading

God Bless Uganda

God Bless Uganda
Gracefully she guides me
To things beyond myself

Physical needs are many
But spiritual ones are few
People here know how to love and give like You

God Bless Uganda
Painful and profound
Often darkness threatens
To steal
The joy her light has shared Continue reading

Home is Where…

November marks one year to the month that I moved from Uganda back to the USA (the first time).

I’ve been struggling to find time for much-needed rest and reflection as the busyness of life lately keeps my head spinning. However, getting out of town last weekend and returning to one of the most beautiful parts of Uganda provided opportunity for some introspection (much of which occurred while cursing and crawling through a triathlon course).

In the past year, I’ve had: 2 travel, family, and fun-filled months of reunions and reconnecting in Texas, California, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Oregon, Colorado and Washington over the 2014 holidays; 4 insanely busy and fulfilling months working in NY; 1 month of pre-UG moving prep and goodbyes round 2; and then 5 months settling in to life and work here in Jinja. It’s been a year marked by transitions, challenges, and change — but with enough blindingly beautiful and rewarding moments thrown in to make it all so, so worth it. Continue reading

Nonprofit Work Culture’s “False Economy”

“Despite being in the business of supporting people, charities can suffer from seeing staff as costs, believing the less you spend on them, the better. It’s a terrible false economy.  Many workplaces seem to go about making everyone as stressed as possible and then it’s just a matter of which one snaps first.”

Quote from this article that succinctly sums up the “false economy” many nonprofits perpetuate. I’ve been an employee, intern, or volunteer at over a dozen NGOs in the past ten years. From organizations that pride themselves in a “zero-overhead” model by requiring all full-time staff to raise support indefinitely, to the unspoken right of passage in this field–pushing yourself to the point of breakdown, to the painful reality of an extremely small team with limited resources being responsible for enormous workloads, to the secrecy and shame surrounding people exiting the field or making a choice prioritizing their personal wellness, to being expected to work unpaid (or slightly above it) to get the experience needed to be gainfully employed… I’ve experienced this false economy and its effects. There are dozens of articles and blogs addressing these topics (such as the uproar surrounding the unpaid UN intern living in a tent) and the bubble is bound to pop someday.

If you work in such a culture, how do you cope? Relying on prioritizing self-care or encouraging your organization/leadership to make staff care a priority? Smart organizations shift from seeing staff as costs to valuing them as assets and investing in them as such. It’s more sustainable and will inarguably create a culture and workforce that produces better work, longer.